So as a Grinnell alum and as someone who grew up here, how does it feel to come back?
It feels great because my parents live here and I only see them about once or twice a year. [And] even though I graduated five years ago, there are still people I know through basketball or music or people that I just happened to have met, so it still kind of feels like home.
Sebring-Lewis is [also] a fantastic place to sing, it has great acoustics and sound. It’s also a really warm crowd. You know they’ll appreciate your singing even if you aren’t singing well.
You were involved in Con Brio while you were here … What was your favorite song?
I loved singing “Africa” by Toto, it’s the perfect a cappella song. I also enjoyed “Gangsta’s Paradise” [by Coolio].
What do you miss more, performing at Grinnell or playing Grinnell Basketball?
(Laughs) I didn’t get to come home for the Midwest Conference Tournament, so I watched it online and talked with my old friends about it, and that made me miss it a lot. I am still performing, so I still get that, and I play basketball every once in a while, but it’s nothing like playing here. I’m five years out, but give me a month or two and I think I can keep up. I miss [Grinnell basketball] a lot, especially since my dad [Emil Malinowski] was the assistant coach.
But instead of music after graduation, you opted for Teach for America.
I thought that I might want to teach for a career, but since I only took one education class, I thought Teach for America would be a good way to circumnavigate the whole teacher-training process.
Also, my senior year, I had a lot of throat trouble. I actually had my tonsils removed and sang my senior recital on steroids, which was really nice. It was like performance enhancing drugs for musicians. But it meant I couldn’t go directly into graduate school for voice because I would not have been ready for the auditions.
So [Teach for America] let me teach and do something of service, which I thought was important. And it also gave me time to let my throat heal before I eventually knew that I wanted to go back to school for singing.
So you’re currently back at school and pursuing a master’s degree at the Mannes College of Music in New York City. What’s it like living in New York and what’s your favorite part about it?
My favorite part about New York City is the opera. The opera scene there is probably the best in the world. I can get orchestra tickets, same-day, for a performance at the Metropolitan Opera House for $20. You just have to stand in line for an hour or two. I see the best singers, and it’s an irreplaceable part of my education as a singer because I get to see so much from learning from people’s mistakes.