On any given Friday on the Middlebury Institute campus, you’re almost guaranteed to hear Tim Marquette’s MATESOL ‘16 voice booming off the walls of the Samson Student Center as he gives a campus tour to prospective students. While the power of his voice may startle nearby library dwellers, once you learn he’s a classically trained baritone, it all makes sense.
Marquette, a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) student with a specialization in International Education Management, is in his fourth and final semester at MIIS. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he majored in vocal performance and minored in piano at the University of Evansville in Southern Indiana. After graduating and working in musical theatre in New York for a couple years, he thought back to the opera festival he had been to in Italy during college and longed to get back to Europe.
In 2004, he contacted Operafestival di Roma and ended up getting a summer job with them, helping to lead the festival he once attended as a student. He realized that he loved being in Rome and didn’t want to leave, and “the rest is history.” He worked as an English teacher and a tour guide in Rome for a while before setting his sights farther east.
“I’ve always had an affinity for Asia,” says Marquette. He had Japanese friends in college who kept telling him to come visit. To which he replied, “Why don’t I just come live there?” He got a job teaching English in Kurashiki, Okayama. Then his life became a constant juggle back and forth between performing music in the States, and teaching English abroad.
Directly before coming to the Institute, Marquette was performing on the side and teaching musical theater at Point Park, a liberal arts university in Pittsburgh. While he loved his job and music gigs, he started to get run down. “Between teaching and performing, I had a total of eight days off one year. Eight out of the 365!” Though hesitant about choosing which career he wanted to pursue, he was ready to move a career to the next level. Then he heard about the TESOL program at the Middlebury Institute.
Not sure how he would adjust to being back in school after 15 years, he decided not to pursue any musical activities his first semester so he could focus on his coursework. That resolve would not last for long. “By Christmas break, I was really itching. It felt like part of my soul was missing,” says Marquette. So, at the beginning of his second semester, he auditioned for The Western Stage, a regional theatre partnered with Hartnell College in Salinas. He won the role of Leo in The Producers as one of the two professional guest artists in the community-based production.
The performance wasn’t until the end of his third semester at MIIS, but the rehearsals were a huge time commitment from the beginning: four hours every Tuesday through Friday evening, and from noon until 10:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. When asked how he managed this time schedule in addition to being a full-time student, and with his work-study job as the TESOL Student Ambassador, Marquette modestly replies, “Oh, you know, it’s that old cliché of the busier you are, the more organized you are.”
As it’s his last semester and he’s started to prepare for life after grad school, Marquette cut back his musical obligations – a little. He recently performed his own arrangements of medleys in a cabaret to fundraise for Bay View Elementary in Santa Cruz; they raised over $1,000 in donations. He also still makes it back to The Western Stage once a week, working as a voice coach for the upcoming teen production Thirteen. The show is pop-rock, but Marquette coaches the young singers to use proper technique when singing to promote good vocal health.
Marquette is looking forward to pursuing a career in higher education, education abroad, or international student services, and he plans on staying on the West Coast. He continues to find a balance between his career in international education and musical theatre, saying, “I want to take gigs I want to take, not gigs I have to take.”
As one of his classmates remarked when she heard he was going to be the subject on an article: “Oh, Tim, he takes it to the next level.” Whether she meant this in terms of his musical talents, time management skills, or aspirations in international education, it’s certainly true.