Unconventional Students at Rice 2021: Elisabeth Pesavento travels the world with her horn


What started as a 10-year-old child’s persistence has become a career for Elisabeth Pesavento ’21.

“I told my mom that I really wanted to play the horn,” Pesavento said. “And you know, like all mothers, she's said, ‘Oh that's nice. It's a very beautiful instrument.’ But I just kept asking and kept asking until finally she was like, ‘Wow, I guess she really does want to play the horn.’”

After Pesavento finally got her French horn, she traveled the world with the instrument.

“I moved around a bit growing up, but everywhere I've lived has sort of been in the shadows of the mountains, a little bit in Montana with the Rockies, Washington with the Cascades and then India with the Himalayas,” she said. “I kind of grew up with that spirit of outdoor adventure. And so I've sort of brought my horn into that.”

One stop on Pesavento’s French horn journey turned out to be Rice’s Shepherd School of Music, where she joined the brass department and was taught by William VerMeulen.

“I absolutely have loved it at Shepherd,” she said. “Being surrounded by such wonderful musicians and being able to play with them in chamber music, ensembles, orchestra, chamber orchestra and impromptu quartets, it's just so inspiring. And also the faculty are wonderful. My professor, I feel so lucky. He was one of the reasons that I came to Shepherd, and I'm so glad that I did.”