Spotlight on Students: Isabella Ramos ’17

Isabella Ramos

Though students might know her for the matcha brown butter Rice Krispies treats she often made as an employee at the Motley Coffeehouse, lately, Scripps senior Isabella Ramos has been up to a lot more than baking. These days, you won’t find her working behind the scenes at the Motley, but rather on a couch, finalizing plans for the weeklong Noh Theater Festival.

Funding for the festival, which Ramos has been helping organize for months, was provided by two Mellon Undergraduate Research Fellowships Ramos applied for and earned. The Noh Theater Festival forms the basis for her senior thesis, synthesizing her art history major and lifelong interest in music. The week’s events include an art exhibition Ramos organized at the Clark Humanities Museum, The Tale of Genji: Reimagined, as well as the world premiere of the musical composition Imagined Sceneries by Koji Nakano, co-commissioned and produced with Scripps Associate Professor of Music Anne Harley. Imagined Sceneries premieres this Saturday, October 29 at 4:45 p.m. at the Clark Humanities Museum.

Originally from Glendale, California, Ramos became involved with music at a young age, and joined the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus at nine years old. Through the chorus, she had the opportunity to travel to South Africa, attend a youth music festival related to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and perform with the L.A. Opera. Ramos later worked for the L.A. Children’s Chorus as a Living History Intern, funded by the L.A. County Arts Commission, where she compiled and organized newspapers and photos to commemorate the chorus’ 30th anniversary.

“Music has really taken me around the world,” she says. “And my internship was not only work that I enjoyed, but it gave me good footing to promote the Noh Theater festival.”

While attending high school at the Westridge School in Pasadena, her voice teacher and former Scripps music professor, Lisa Stidham, introduced her to the College. However, having spent her high school career at an all-girls’ school, Ramos wasn’t sure she wanted to go to Scripps. Visiting campus changed her mind, and Ramos enrolled, with plans to be a music and psychology dual major. Plans changed after taking a Japanese Woodblock Prints class where she was introduced to art history beyond the Western canon, and her interest was piqued. Meanwhile, she continued her study of singing, taking voice lessons with Professor Harley.

Ramos became involved in the Noh Theater Festival at the invitation of Harley, who had mentioned it during one of her lessons. Since then, Ramos has taken on immense responsibility for the festival’s production. Along the way, she has gotten to know Scripps and 7C faculty and honed skills related to professional networking as well as event organization and promotion. She has spent hours on a wide variety of tasks, including drafting countless emails to festival guests, participants, and media allies, designing the Noh Festival poster and Imagined Sceneries program and DVD, writing labels for exhibited artworks, and writing an open-source Scalar book on the process of planning the event series from start to finish.

Ramos’ devotion is in part inspired by her father, who balances his work as a software engineer with his service as a volunteer arranger-in-residence of the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra, the only Filipino/a orchestra outside of the Philippines. Ramos also helps the organization with its social media and donor database, but admits that her father is the one who stays up the latest in the family.

“I can never dream of being that awesome!” she said. Ramos hopes to go to Japan or the Philippines on a fellowship after graduation this spring, and has long-term plans of working in arts administration or UX design.