Music meets medicine: David living one dream while envisioning another

David Elacqua has the music gene. He grew up in a musical family, plays in the parish choir and is choir director at History Old St. John’s. Even with all that, he’s considering going to medical school. He’s marching to his own beat.

You majored in music and biology at Colgate University. How did you decide on those majors that seem far apart?

I had been interested in biology for a long time, and after taking it in high school, I knew I wanted to major in it in college. I was planning on doing a music minor from the start, but the difference in a music minor and a major at Colgate was only two classes, so I figured I might as well do a double major. I’m very glad I did. 

Music is a major part of the entire Elacqua clan. You play the organ, piano and clarinet. How did your love of music evolve?

My love for music started at a very young age. I have vague memories of sitting on the organ bench with my mother while she played Mass both here at Mount Carmel and during the summers at St. John’s when she would substitute. I started taking piano lessons when I was 5 and continued with that for many years. I picked up the clarinet in the fourth grade as part of the elementary school band, and I started playing the clarinet in the Mount Carmel choir a few years later. During college, I played the clarinet in the Colgate Orchestra, the Colgate Chamber Players, and I also played in the pep band where I was the drum major (the conductor) for almost three years. For the organ, I always had an interest in it with my mom playing it and with my grandfather’s love for organ. When he passed in 2016, I became even more interested in learning the organ, and then in 2018 during my freshman year at Colgate, I decided to start taking lessons. 

You’re 23 and have been a Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament parishioner since you were born. You’ve been an altar server and part of the music ministry. Now, you’re choir director at St. John’s. How did that come about, and do you have any mixed feelings about working in another parish?

I started playing the organ in my freshman year at Colgate, and during my sophomore year, I began taking lessons in Utica with Steven Best. This continued until the COVID shutdown. During my junior year at Colgate, I was approached by Father Jason Hage (now the pastor at Mary, Mother of Our Savior) to be the organist at St. Mary’s in Hamilton and St. Bernard’s in Waterville. I played at both churches for a while and eventually transitioned to just playing at St. Mary’s. In 2022 I was approached by Father Tom Servatius at St. John’s about their position and started in October of that year. At the very start, I was slightly apprehensive about working in another parish, especially one so close to Mount Carmel, but everyone — including the choir members, the staff and the congregation — has been extremely welcoming and supportive of me there. I’ve loved every minute of it. 

In addition to your music, you also are a scientist at ICON Labs in Whitesboro. What does your job entail?

ICON is a contract research organization, so pharmaceutical companies that are developing new drugs send samples to us from their clinical trials, and we run tests on them. I work in the large molecule pharmacokinetics (large PK) lab where we run tests on the samples that help the sponsor pharmaceutical company determine dosage. 

You’re now considering going to medical school. What field of medicine are you interested in and why?

I’m not entirely sure what field of medicine I’d like to go into. The nice thing about medical school is that you get exposure to many different specialties during your clinical rotations, so you don’t have to go into it knowing what you want to do. I could see myself working in pediatrics because I work well with kids; however, I could also see myself in anesthesiology as I can imagine how rewarding it must be to be the person to comfort someone and place them at ease right before an operation. 

Mount Carmel has been an anchor for your family for several generations. What does that familial connection mean for you?

Our connection to Mount Carmel means a lot to me. My grandparents were very active in our church, and while I don’t have many memories of them as I was very young when they passed, I’ve heard countless stories of their involvement in the church and in our faith community as a whole. For many years now, there have been many Elacquas up in the choir loft on a weekly basis, and especially when everyone is there, it is so special to all of us to get to make music together. It’s a very unique bond that we share with each other through this familial connection to our church (especially through our music) that I don’t think many people get to experience. 

How has your faith influenced your life and your decisions?

My faith has been a big part of my life since I was very young. I’ve been going to church for as long as I can remember, and my parents have always instilled a strong sense of faith in my life. My faith has gotten me through grade school, college, all of my music endeavors, and now it is helping me discern where my life is going to take me. I know I can turn to my faith whenever I need to, in good times and in difficult times. 

How would you describe yourself and how do you hope people view you?

I would describe myself as a kind, intelligent and comforting person. I love helping people whenever I can in ways physically, emotionally and spiritually. I would hope people view me in the same way.

Music. Medicine. Who knows what else. In your dream world, what does the future hold for you?

I love directing the choir and playing the organ at St. John’s, but there is also something that is strongly pulling me toward medicine. If accepted and I attend medical school, unfortunately I would need to give up being the organist for a church for a while, but it’s possible I could pick it back up after my schooling is over. In a dream world, I would be able to do both at the same time.

David Elacqua

  • Age: 23.
  • Family: Parents David and Anne Elacqua, brother Nick.
  • Education: Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University, majoring in biology and music.
  • Occupation: Organist / choir director at Historic Old St. John’s and scientist at ICON Lab in Whitesboro.
  • Things you like to do in your spare time: Spend time with my family, my two cats and playing music. 
  • Favorite music genre or musician: I enjoy many different types of music, but I tend to listen to pop and classical music the most. 
  • Favorite composer: Tchaikovsky.
  • Hobbies: Playing video games, learning new music on the piano or organ, listening to music, and watching TV and movies. 
  • Favorite TV show: “The Crown.”
  • Favorite movie: “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”
  • Favorite book: “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy