By Connie Su
If some people were born with musical talent, then Kola Owolabi must be one of them.
A brilliant organist and pianist, Owolabi has been working at Syracuse University for six years. He is an assistant professor at the Setnor School of Music, teaching organ, music theory, improvisation and figured bass. As the University Organist, Owolabi also plays the organ and coordinates music for many special events at Hendricks Chapel such as commencements, weddings, concerts, and Sunday services of Protestant Campus Ministry. Besides, he is also the accompanist of the Hendricks Chapel Choir and participates in their weekly rehearsals. Although having a tight schedule, Owolabi doesn't feel weary of it at all.
"I love music. It's an indispensable part of my life," he says. "I feel very lucky that I'm able to do what I like and to be immersed in the world of melody every single day."
It seems that musical talent runs in Owolabi's family, as both of his parents are amateur musicians. His father enjoys all kinds of music and his mother is an avid singer. Raised in a Roman Catholic family, Owolabi became interested in church music when he was very young. He started to learn piano at seven years old and began organ lessons at 12. He still practices the organ for 2-3 hours a day. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal with a bachelor's degree in music, he pursued further studies in organ performance and choral conducting at Yale University, where he earned a master's degree. After that, he obtained a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. In the adventure of music, he never stops exploring. His love of music resulted in the decision to make it his lifelong career.
In his free time, Owolabi enjoys reading fiction books, cooking and hanging around with friends. He is also a prolific composer. In recent years, he has been the organist and harpsichordist for Seraphic Fire, a nationally acclaimed professional ensemble based in Miami. He has performed as a soloist across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Jamaica.
Owolabi is passionate about discussing music with other musicians. "I serve as the sub dean for the Syracuse Chapter of the American Guild of Organists," Owolabi says with smile. "We have events every month. It's very delightful to share new ideas with other professionals and talk about music news all over the world."
When asked about his feelings about Hendricks Chapel, Owolabi says: "Hendricks Chapel is a wonderful place for all different faith persuasions and no persuasion. It connects the campus and the community with many great opportunities for people to dialogue and learn with each other. I feel glad to be part of it."
Talking of a few things on his to-do-list for the near future, Owolabi hopes that he will have more students in his organ class, and the first solo organ CD of his own. "The value of dreams lies in the process of making them happen," says Owolabi. He seems to be ready for his next journey.