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DANNY BERNSTEIN: My name is Danny Bernstein. And I'm a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in music with a minor in theater. I've been playing the piano since I was three. And I started doing theater and musical theater when I was nine, and just acting in musicals.
I acted in maybe like upwards of 20 by the time I graduated high school. And I just sort of fell in love with the art form. And so I started writing some on the side. And then eventually, I wrote my full length musical Far from Canterbury.
Opening night was absolutely incredible. Seeing the audience receive the show so well and give a standing ovation as soon as the final blackout happened, it was truly inspiring, because it really showed me that this is possible. It's possible to create good, new work, especially at an undergraduate level-- and work that's not just good for an undergrad, but objectively fun to watch and enjoyable in the world.
When I won the Undergraduate Artist of the Year Award, I was completely floored. I had had no idea that I was even being seriously considering, considering my project was sort of far-fetched and very unusual for what undergraduates pursue at Cornell. So when I had won, it was an extreme surprise. I had no idea something like that was coming. And I was incredibly humbled.
To the cast and crew of Canterbury, I am forever indebted to all of you. I deeply thank all of you for letting me have your talents to work on this show, for lending me both your patience as well as your immense abilities, and for being able to bring this show to life in ways I couldn't have imagined when I was writing it.
So I was recently selected for the New Voices Project in Los Angeles, sponsored in part by Disney Imagineering. And what that does is, it gives young composers like me, specifically three of us that they picked, to have their selections from our shows shown for an audience of industry members, artistic directors, producers, agents, casting directors.
And so hopefully from there, I can start meeting people in the industry who will likely want to hire me as a composer or start working on my material. And ideally, this will be the transition where I am able to work on this show professionally and not just at the undergraduate level.
I think that I'd like to say to any incoming freshman, if you want to do this, you need to go out and make it happen. Because the community will form around you, and you will have a support network with you through the whole process. But you have to be the one to take the initiative and make it happen.
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Thanks to the response to his original musical, Far From Canterbury, Danny Bernstein '14, Cornell Undergraduate Artist of the Year, is the only student chosen for the Academy for New Musical Theatre's New Voices Project, which nurtures new musical theater writers under the age of 26 with workshops of their writing.
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