30 Grads in 30 Days: Michael Beirne

Michael Beirne (photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Name: Michael Beirne

Age: 22

Majors: Music and mathematics

Hometown: Folsom, CA

UCSC College: Eight

Favorite class or professor and why?

Thinking over four years at UCSC, the professor who stands out is Amy Beal. In the undergraduate Music Department, she teaches the two later music history courses and runs the Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME). The amazing amount of effort she throws into her courses with regards to interest in the material and organization in presentation is highly contagious. Under her direction, CME has been the best end to every week. The first rehearsal we ever had consisted of making rock music, literally with rocks. With frequent exploration into group improvisation, modern composition, and individual creativity all the troubles of the previous week seem to melt away. I feel very honored to have had her as a professor the past two years, and I look forward to the rest of the time I have under her direction.

Most memorable experience at UCSC?

I took a class last year offered by Porter called the Ways of Knowing. Individual classes ranged from a movement day to an exploration of our sense of smell. There was a mandatory project for which I learned to juggle, and there were presentation days when students would show the class an art project or evaluation of the readings. Discussion topics ranged from recognition of "the other" to use of transitional objects. Classes sometimes bordered on group therapy, but all in all, it was definitely one of my most interesting experiences at UCSC and an intriguing look into differing ways of understanding the world around us.

Favorite spot on campus and why?

There is one couch in the Music Center facing the bay through a full-length window. Being away from the usual path of most music students, it avoids the constant sound emanating from most halls. In short, over the years, that couch has been the location of a lot of work, more procrastination, and even more napping.

How has UCSC shaped you?

I'm most grateful for the way I've been able to grow academically at UCSC. I was lucky enough to end up in two of the smaller departments on campus, which led to relatively small class sizes and closer relationships with my professors. Through that experience, I was able to stay involved in classes and continue a great appreciation for the learning process in general. On a more subconscious level, UCSC has successfully implanted a negative visceral reaction at the sight of polystyrene products and the absence of recycle bins.

What are your future plans?

I do not have any definite plans at the moment, but have recently gained some interest into the study of acoustics (the physics of sound). For my math exit seminar, I had the chance to look into the application of number theory onto tuning theory and found the process quite enlightening. Graduate school is definitely in the near future, though I am not sure where and for what yet.

How did you choose your college, and how has your college affected your education?

Honestly, I chose College Eight because I already knew some people who were going there, and it had a great view. The core course was an interesting overview on the relationship between humans and their environment. The college system in general creates a unique sort of pride tied to your college of origin. It's interesting to be able to relate similar experiences with other College Eight members, whether it be late night dining hall stories or the preponderance of Uggs.


Beyond graduating with a double degree in four years while working anywhere from two to four jobs a quarter, I've been able to apply myself most to the Music Department. I have been a member of several chamber groups and larger ensembles, including the Gamelan and Contemporary Music Ensemble. I am a four-year member of the UCSC Orchestra and have helped them to present several premieres. With the UCSC Chamber Singers I've also participated in the presentation of award-winning opera productions. For the last two years, I've worked as the orchestra manager, under conductor Nicole Paiement. I mostly work to help our humble 60-piece symphonic orchestra run smoother. Finally, after four years of working with violinist Roy Malan, I was awarded the opportunity to present a solo recital on the violin, with works by composers ranging from Bach to Smetana.