"I love coming to work each day knowing that I'll get to collaborate with an incredibly passionate group of young musicians."
Last has always known that he wanted to teach but feels the liberal arts chose him. “I'm sure I was guided to this position because of a love and respect I had for Luther as a student,” he says. “Having taught at this institution for the past four years, I can see the value of a liberal arts education and can't imagine many other places I'd rather teach.”
Last often feels that with every degree he’s earned he’s "raised the bar" for himself as a conductor. “I've been exposed to choral literature through graduate literature courses, had different teachers evaluate the efficiency of my conducting gesture in conducting classes, and observed great teachers showcase their ability to recruit effectively,” he says. “All of those skills have been invaluable to me since my arrival at Luther.”
According to Last, the most rewarding part about being a professor is the students. “There’s no question about it,” he says. “I love coming to work each day knowing that I'll get to collaborate with an incredibly passionate group of young musicians. And each day I arrive to a class or rehearsal, I can feel their willingness to be guided.”
“In January 2014, I co-taught the Choral Music in Namibia and South Africa course,” Last says. “The trip had been offered previously and I heard from many of the past travelers that this would be a life-changing experience. Being slightly cynical about those statements, I was stunned after being transformed as a human being after that trip. My eyes were opened to the love that so many around the world freely offer to others. I inherently feel that we all want to give and receive love, and the trip was filled with many opportunities to do so.”
Last currently serves as camp director for the Dorian Summer Music Camps. “I've been affiliated with that organization for over twenty years,” he says. “I began as a counselor, was promoted to head counselor, served as a faculty member, and then was named camp director three years ago.”
Last believes that Luther’s music program is one of the strongest undergraduate programs in the world. “Whether you’re looking at the curriculum, ensembles, private instruction, the sense of rigor, or the healthy sense of community, I've been to few other schools that compare,” he says. “Luther is producing talented musicians, composers, and educators who are leaders in their fields. Whenever and wherever I travel, people respect the Luther product, and I’m proud to tout my affiliation with this institution.”
I'm passionate about musical theatre/contemporary musical theatre. I'm the artistic director for a musical theatre performance (The Fellas) through the local Water Street Music Series (WSMS). I love programming performances with other talented artists and am thankful WSMS has given me the outlet for this passion.