Trading pre-med plan to study music and change lives 

By Katie Hirv ’22

Avid opera, musical, or choir enthusiasts on campus and within the Waverly community may recognize senior Levi Capesius, whether through his role as Wartburg Choir president or from his run as Figaro in “The Marriage of Figaro,” the Wartburg Opera Workshop production last spring.

However, music wasn’t always the calling for the music education and music performance major.

“I wanted to be a doctor up until my junior year of high school. I had always planned on coming to Wartburg, but I was going to major in pre-med biology. However, after my brother was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 14, I knew that I had to choose a vocation that would give me joy every day for the rest of my life,” Capesius shared. “My brother Bryce and his battle with cancer showed me that I had to choose a career path that was going to fill my soul full of love and happiness. In my major of music education, I will be able to find joy by bringing music to my students’ lives, creating wonderful music together, and giving them the same life-changing and memorable experiences that I was given by my choir directors throughout school. Through my music performance major, I would bring light to peoples’ darkness through my God-given gift of singing.”

Wartburg has been a perfect fit for Capesius to immerse himself in his love for music. Along with his involvement in Wartburg Choir and Opera Workshop, Capesius is a resident assistant, assistant festival coordinator for on-campus music camps, and a technical staff member for Neumann Auditorium. Capesius also has served as a leader in Ritterchor, the music director for Festeburg and a section leader in Castle Singers. With faculty members also serving as mentors, Capesius has grown and developed his passion on an even deeper level.

Levi Capesius ’21 in "The Marriage of Figaro"

“For music education, I would have to say my favorite class was definitely Advanced Choral Conducting. I truly learned how to guide students in making beautiful, life-changing music with my amazing teacher and mentor Dr. Lee Nelson,” Capesius said. “For music performance, I would have to say that my favorite class was Opera Workshop and Applied Vocal Lessons, both with Dr. Brian Pfaltzgraff. Dr. P and I are very similar in the fact that we have a similar singing voice, as well as both of us are total nerds about operatic and classical vocal repertoire. Dr. P has inspired me to continue doing what brings me a great deal of joy, which is singing in any context.”

As a senior at Wartburg, Capesius has started to think ahead to what his future may hold in terms of a career or future education.

“I would love to teach high school choir in an urban area, such as the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area or possibly the Des Moines metro area. However, I would be happy to also build a struggling choral program into something that would change the lives of many students through the music we create together. I would also love to attend grad school for music performance in the opera concentration at a school out east, in a city such as New York City, Philadelphia, or Boston,” Capesius said.

Reflecting on his time at Wartburg and what advice he can provide to other students, Capesius shared: “Be involved as much as you are able. At a college the size of Wartburg, students can be academically successful and still be highly involved outside of their major. With grit, passion, and determination, anything is possible and achievable.”