Amanda Wilson '09 The Pacific Northwest has a way of tugging at people once they leave. For many, going away is an interim step before coming back to this remarkable corner of the country. That, indeed, is what has happened to Amanda. She is a Seattle native who completed majors in violin performance and French at Puget Sound. After receiving her Bachelor of Music degree, she and her husband moved to New York City to further his career as a chef and she began working in what she thought would be a temporary administrative role in the financial services industry at a brokerage firm near Wall Street. Through what could be called a happy accident, Amanda found her passion for working in wealth management while in New York. After holding several positions at BGC Partners and JPMorgan Securities, Amanda moved to Barclays Wealth and Investment Management to help build, and eventually lead, a team focused on servicing the firm’s corporate executive client base, offering monetization, hedging, and diversification solutions for single stock risk scenarios. After only four years, she was a vice president at Barclays. The PNW and family still living here beckoned, however. In 2016, she relocated back to Seattle and started a career as a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley. As busy as she is, she remains active in supporting and performing in the local music community, currently as a member of the Seattle Festival Orchestra.
“I’ve remained very connected to the Puget Sound community, both in New York and here in Seattle, and am continuously meeting new alumni,” writes Amanda. “It fills me with pride that, without fail, Loggers I meet are successful in their chosen fields and active in bettering their communities. I’m sure this speaks to the driven, curious, and passionate student UPS attracts, but I also think it speaks volumes to the strength of a liberal arts education. I felt well prepared for any new challenge presented to me in the workplace, whether it was a new task, new job, or new field.”
Brian Knowlton '01, J.D. “When presented with life’s opportunities, say yes, even if you don’t know how you’ll proceed, and trust your future self to capably rise to the occasion.”
For Brian, these are more than words. They capture a combination of intuition, talent, work ethic, and confidence that have shaped his life and remarkable career in entertainment.
Things could have gone differently. Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Brian barely graduated high school in 1993, but he played tuba well, and was recruited into the Third Marine Aircraft Wing Band. While a Marine, he studied with world-renowned Los Angeles tubist Tommy Johnson and attended night school with hopes of entering college. He was offered a generous scholarship to attend Indiana University, but a call from Puget Sound tuba instructor Ron Munson motivated him to attend Puget Sound.
His studies at Puget Sound, Brian describes, were pivotal, even life-changing. Though he struggled early in his courses, Puget Sound’s focus on writing and its hands-on faculty allowed Brian to develop his writing skills, which he now describes as his most important professional asset. By graduation, he had earned numerous accolades, including being named a Fulbright finalist to study at the Lucerne School Conservatory in Switzerland, earning a summer research grant to study with major tubists throughout the United States, receiving a summer appointment to the Aspen School of Music, being hired through audition to “sub” for the Seattle Symphony, and earning top scholarship offers for graduate study from the New England Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, and University of Southern California.
Brian chose USC and was soon part of the L.A. music scene, playing with the Los Angeles Brass, Santa Monica Symphony, and working as a freelance musician. He joined an 18-month national tour of the Tony and Emmy award-winning Broadway show Blast!. At the end of the tour, Brian helped develop a performing brass ensemble at SeaWorld in San Antonio, combining cutting-edge live digital processing and sequenced accompaniments with an engaging theatrical performance style. He was soon appointed Senior Production Manager of SeaWorld’s Entertainment Department, overseeing creative development and production of all new shows. He and his team produced more than 100 shows, large-scale events, and music festivals, some of which received the highest ratings in the company’s history and awards in international competitions. He now serves as Director of Production, overseeing multimillion dollar budgets and an extensive creative and production team.
But the story doesn’t stop there. Along the way, Brian produced numerous soundtracks for live shows and performed as a recording artist with the Seattle Symphony and in studios in Nashville. He conceived of and was creative director for Endangered Instruments, a Yamaha-sponsored nonprofit music organization that produced and performed musical shows for 60,000 schoolchildren, contributing to a 27-percent increase in enrollment in music programs in San Antonio schools. He also—somehow—enrolled at St. Mary’s School of Law, focused on entertainment law, earning his Juris Doctor, passing the Texas bar and obtaining his license in 2013. He is now practicing law in Texas in addition to his duties at SeaWorld. During his studies Brian was published by the American University Intellectual Property Brief and asked to write an article addressing intellectual property issues arising within the entertainment production process by the Federal Circuit Bar Association, a national organization for the bar of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the second highest court in the nation. Indeed Brian had learned to write!
Who knows what new opportunities await Brian? One thing is clear: He will continue saying “yes” to unfamiliar opportunities, trusting his future self to rise to the occasion.
Other music alumni (majors and minors) active in fields outside of music: