The Fulbright Program is the flagship international education exchange program sponsored by the United States, and is highly sought after by students all across the country.
This year the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and the Institute of International Education, along with the Austrian-American Educational Commission, awarded 2012 BJU graduate Daniel Overly the Fulbright Study Grant combined with an English teaching assistantship to study at the Konservatorium Wien in Vienna, Austria.
Daniel will be one of approximately 1,700 students who will study abroad this coming academic year on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Because of the limited nature of the awards, the Fulbright Program seeks out students distinguished by their academic or professional achievements and their demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. Daniel’s fluency in German, his experience as a piano accompanist and his proficiency in music contributed to his receiving the award.
Daniel auditioned for admittance into the Konservatorium Wien in February and was accepted this March. He will begin his studies in the 2012-2013 school year in Korrepetition Lied / Oratorium (a master’s in vocal coaching with an emphasis in art song and oratorio).
Konservatorium Wien in Vienna, Austria
Established in 1938 in Vienna’s first district, the Konservatorium Wien is one of several world-renowned music schools in Austria. It has approximately 860 students in music theory, music performance, drama and dance.
Vienna itself is a hub of culture, history and, of course, classical music and opera. Just a short walk from the Konservatorium Wien is Mozart’s former residence, and a mere four blocks away from the school is the world-renowned Vienna State Opera. To study in Vienna is a dream come true for Daniel.
A life of music
Daniel and music go back a long time—21 years to be exact. Born into the family of music faculty member Dr. Paul Overly, Daniel has never been far out of earshot from music. As a result, Daniel says, he now feels like he has a sixth sense for it.
But his musical experience goes deeper. By age 10 he was participating in a BJU performance of the opera Tosca in which he had an off-stage solo. Through this experience, he fell in love with stage, opera and the idea of music as a career.
He points to his dad, his piano teacher David Lehman, and dean emeritus of the School of Fine Arts and Communication, Dr. Dwight Gustafson, as the three biggest influences in his life that have inspired him for this career path. “[They are] my heroes in the field,” he says. “[And they] are also personal heroes.”
Dr. Gustafson, in particular, is one of Daniel’s role models. “I’ve witnessed firsthand his zeal for excellence and his heart for the Lord,” Daniel says. “He models for me what I want to be like as a Christian musician.”
While music has been Daniel’s primary study throughout his life, he says his liberal arts education has been one of the primary factors leading to his acceptance into the Konservatorium Wien. As he began to pursue vocal coaching, he discovered that expectations for coaching included language skills, interpretation of poetry, history and philosophy—all of which he studied at BJU. “[Because of the liberal arts] I feel like I can go into an intensive musical situation with a broad worldview and a biblical worldview,” he says.
Following Christ in Vienna
This upcoming year holds many changes for Daniel. He’s marrying his fiancee, Alayna Pennington, in August and in September they are moving to Vienna. Daniel is thankful to God for this opportunity and the provision to make it happen. “Following Christ is always worth it,” he says. “God will give you the opportunities to develop in what he has gifted you.”
But not only has God provided Daniel the opportunity to study what he loves, He has also given him the opportunity to fulfill another one of his dreams. Ever since hearing Dr. Bob’s challenge to graduates, it has been Daniel’s burden to help minister in a small church. While in Vienna, Daniel and Alayna will be assisting Gospel Fellowship Association missionaries Todd and Sarah Hudson at Immanuel Bibelgemeinde (Immanuel Bible Church) in Vienna.
Looking to the future
In the long term Daniel would like to teach and to perform music. He sees the intense studies in Vienna as the perfect way to make this dream a reality, and he’s confident that he is prepared for what lies ahead. He’s excited and thankful to God for what is taking place. “It’s a wild dream coming true,” Daniel says. “The Lord is bringing it to pass.”
Published May 4, 2012