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A Love of Music Changed Her Future for the Better

Elizabeth Mazes sits in the grass at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.  Photo courtesy Christopher Gregory for The New York Times.

Elizabeth Mazes sits in the grass at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Photo courtesy Christopher Gregory for The New York Times.

Before starting her college career at the University at Buffalo, Elizabeth (Simboli) Mazes had a life-changing experience with the New York Philharmonic at the New York Botanical Garden in 1968. Recently featured in the New York Times, Mazes recalled her time in the All-City High Chorus. Through life, Mazes’ musical journey at the University at Buffalo expanded her musical knowledge, gave her opportunities to travel, and built a foundation for her career as a NYC high school guidance counselor.

When Mazes was about 14-years-old, she went on a school trip to see the New York Philharmonic at Crocheron Park in Queens. There she saw live orchestral music for the first time. For her, that concert “was mind-blowing” and it undoubtedly changed her future for the better.

In her sophomore year at Bayside High School in Queens, she joined the All-City Chorus. It was with them that she sang at Lincoln Center and all over New York City with the New York Philharmonic. After she graduated high school, she went on to the University at Buffalo to study English (BA-’73). During her time there, she joined both the touring chorus and small vocal ensemble at the college, both of which were competitive to get into. She recalled the choir conductor, Peter Van Dyck, with a strong fondness showcasing how SUNY’s engaged faculty can have a long-lasting impact.

With the University at Buffalo’s touring chorus, Mazes was afforded the opportunity to travel to US and Canadian cities where she had never been before. “Traveling with the UB chorus was some of the first times I got to go to different places. It was wonderful and gave me the courage to go abroad for a semester.” She did a semester in Heidelberg, Germany thanks to the help of the UB international study office. Mazes credits UB with giving her the building blocks for her love of travel and her musical life long-journey.

“I took my first vocal lessons ever (at UB). I got a job teaching for the American schools in Germany right after graduation and joined the Stuttgart Philharmonic Choir. UB prepared me for all of that.”

For Mazes, music is universal. To this day, she still sings and she is grateful for the opportunity to do so. And she is grateful for her experience at the University at Buffalo.

“It has made me a better person in my life. I tell my students who apply to large universities to find a small group and make them your family. For me, it was the chorus and the music-making that helped me get through. It was the chorus and the music students that were my family there.”

After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in English, she taught English for a few years before getting her Masters in Counseling Psychology from Boston University. She credits her B.A. from the University at Buffalo with jumpstarting her career. Currently, she teaches career and college counseling. Mazes advice to both her students and all prospective students starting to look at colleges, “follow what you want to do. Bottom line, you are the one who wakes up every morning and goes to work. Make it be something that feeds you and that is right for you.”

Serah Shahar

Written by Serah Shahar

Serah was a social media intern in the SUNY Office of New Media, having graduated from the University at Albany with Business Administration degree with concentrations in marketing and finance and minors in economics and communications.

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