Emma Breen has completed her master’s degree in trumpet performance and is preparing to continue her studies at UCLA as a PhD student this fall. She is also committed to the world of science, and her passion for it remains as much as her music, and she intends to continue.
“You have to be versatile,” Breen said of her decision to pursue multiple avenues. “And UCLA is the perfect place to prepare for a career in the 21st century.”
The 2023 Graduate Commencement Speakers came to UCLA very purposefully. She chose her UCLA over the Royal Academy of Music because she wanted to work with trumpet professor Jens Lindemann and because UCLA offered a different kind of education.
“The Royal Academy’s approach is much more traditional,” says Breen. “I felt that UCLA would give me the opportunity to do other interesting things, and that was great. Mimi was also lucky enough to receive an Alpert Foundation scholarship, which allowed him to move to Los Angeles. It really made it possible for me to come.”
Breen has racked up quite a few records during her graduate studies at UCLA. She was selected to play in the Disney All-American College Band. She was named principal trumpet of the American Youth Symphony. She is an active session recorder and has performed all over the United States.
“Los Angeles has a lot of opportunities for musicians,” Breen said. “You have to keep your eyes open and active. It can be a great place to work.”
Breen jumped into the life of a professional musician with both feet. In addition to her recitals and ensemble performances at UCLA, her recent session work includes: unicornis an upcoming animated series for HBO directed by . powerpuff girls. That, in turn, led to an invitation to Comic-Con in San Diego this summer. And all of this in addition to holding leadership positions with the American Youth Symphony (AYS).
“It’s a lot of work,” Breen said. “I got my hands on the latest AYS music at a national trumpet competition at Trumpet Studios in Boulder, Colorado. “This is too much.” I’ll have to give up the trumpet. ”
But then Breen got down to business and found himself capable of learning music and maintaining a demanding schedule. She believes in the welcoming culture of AYS.
“Most of the other musicians are a little older than me and they have more experience,” Breen said. “But they welcomed me right away and were very supportive. It really made a big difference.”
Then there’s Breen’s scientific work. Breen has no undergraduate degree in science, but he has worked in a lab since high school. As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, she was part of the university’s prestigious Pinkett Lab as well as her SONIC/ATLAS Lab, where she conducted cognitive research in both Russian and English, leading her to NASA’s Worked with long range space missions.
I’ve written before about how Breen ended up getting four years of experience in a lab without taking a single undergraduate science class, and it’s worth reading. But it wasn’t just an undergraduate job. Breen is currently conducting stem cell research in the Zamudio lab within the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at UCLA.
“Science is important to me,” Breen said. “It feeds a part of me that music doesn’t give me. And I don’t feel the need to choose between the two. But I disagree.”