A Surprise for a Villa Grad and Her Mentor

It is not unusual for Villa’s retired music director to support an alumna in her post Villa music endeavors. For decades, Joyce Prichard has been surprising her former students by showing up unexpectedly at their concerts and recitals in college and beyond, but there was something special about an unanticipated meeting this November.


Retired Director of Music Joyce Prichard with Megan Brust just after her recital in the School of Music’s museum and reception hall. Coincidentally, they noticed an orchestra program from 1971 on display there in which Mrs. Prichard had participated.

Megan Brust (VMA ’11) is in her senior year at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY in the same program that Mrs. Prichard graduated from exactly 40 years ago. Known for its rigorous and intense music education program, Ithaca College gives students an unparalleled two years of practical teaching in the classroom. Ithaca College School of Music’s dedication to the simultaneous fostering of outstanding musicians and high-performing music educators is what made Megan decide to apply to the college early decision in the fall of her senior year at Villa. Megan knew that the strong liberal arts program and excellent music school was the only option for her desired career path – so Ithaca’s was the only college application she ever completed.

Four years later, Megan’s parents were unaware that Mrs. Prichard had already made arrangements to attend Megan’s senior voice recital when they called to invite her to stay in the sprawling Victorian house they rented to host family and friends for Megan’s recital, but they kept her secret from Megan. The night before the recital, Megan and her family were gathered in the large living room, and Megan’s parents (anticipating her arrival) sent Mrs. Prichard a text saying: “the back door is open.”  The moment that Megan saw Mrs. Prichard enter is one that neither will soon forget. In that moment, it became apparent to Megan that she would always receive support from both her mentor and the Villa community in every stage of her life’s journey.

Megan’s adventure through Ithaca College has been an enriching experience, while still challenging her to grow as a person and leader every day. She has taught a general music pre-kindergarten class, a third and fourth grade chorus, and completes her education by student teaching with the choral program at public junior and senior high schools. She has simultaneously grown as a musician through the Ithaca College Chorus and Women’s Chorale, and performing with and conducting the IC Bell People, the campus’ student-run handbell choir. She continues to strive for a balance between practicing music and her faith through actively participating in music ministry and co-chairing the Ithaca College Catholic Community’s social committee. Megan recognizes that her understanding of what a healthy work-life-faith balance should be began at Villa.


Bernadette and Peter Brust with their daughter Megan following her recital.

The recital hall was filled with music faculty, students, family and friends on the night of Megan’s performance. When she finished, the audience gave her an instantaneous and enthusiastic standing ovation. Mrs. Prichard noted, “I could not have anticipated the tremendous growth and maturity that I would experience in hearing Megan’s voice at the recital. The performance was one of the most magnificent I have ever had the pleasure of attending. Her family and I were moved to tears as we witnessed the product of so many years of concentrated effort. Megan has always been extremely focused on her goals, but her recital performance was a magic moment in time that showed just how successful she has been in accomplishing each one.”

A leader in the Villa Maria music program during her high school years, Megan was a member of the Handbell Choir, Chorus, Madrigal Singers and Orchestra, Treasurer of Tri-M Music Honor Society chapter 1227 in her junior year, and President in her senior year. She was the recipient of the Jeffrey W. Prichard Music Scholarship in her senior year.