Christian Sebek. After more than 1500 performances playing Piangi in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Christian sat down to tell us his fascinating journey into the world of opera and eventually into the one musical theatre’s greatest characters. Originally on the path of technical design in theatre, Christian didn’t discover his singing voice until college. Even more interesting was his voice change that transitioned him from being a robust baritone to a tenor. Christian is a self-described “journeyman” in which he has pieced together a career that includes opera, musical theatre, voice over, a private studio, and now faculty at The Institute for American Musical Theatre. Listen in to find out how his family played an important roll in his pursuit of his dreams, as well as how he is now guiding his kids to pursue their own dreams.
Denson Paul Pollard, Bass Trombonist of the MET Opera Orchestra, talked with us about his most recent sabbatical leave to play with the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Helsinki Finland. He took the audition after spending a few weeks playing with the orchestra, taking the risk along with 50 other bass trombonists he won the audition. The year was a superb experience, he talked about how the culture in Finland values and supports the arts, and how his experience of auditioning again gave him the opportunity to validate what he tells his students at Juilliard, Bard and Mannes. We talked about; the difference between European and American Conservatory student’s learning focus, what did he learn about himself going through the process of auditioning, the struggle of maintaining the excellent of performance in the MET orchestra given the demands of the schedule, demands of playing the trombone, the learning curve in learning the repertoire, how he relaxes away from his job, the rationale of his youtube channel examples, his exploration of new repertoire, how he learned the bass trombone and what lays ahead in the future.
French Hornist, Tony Cecere, is a freelancer in the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania areas. He has played with the New Jersey Symphony, New Orleans Symphony, American Chamber Players, Bach Choir in Bethlehem, PA., is a current member of the Philadelphia Brass, plays on Broadway and is a substitute with the MET Opera Orchestra. We talked about; his career and vast experience, how his playing has changed along with his career, what the challenges are within different ensembles and how to learn to play in varying acoustics. For students we discussed; the importance of learning ensemble skills, importance of learning how to produce a vocal musical line, and gaining listening skills by listening to recordings and just not one recording but learning how to discriminate the difference between interpretations and style. Our discussion lead to the recording industry past and present and later the workings of being a member of the Philadelphia Brass from arranging music, talking to the audience and choosing a new member.
Dean LeBlanc, associate clarinetist at the Metropolitan Opera and freelancer joined us for a lively conversation about so many aspects of clarinet playing. We talked about the various instruments he plays, mouthpieces, C-clarinets, reeds, bells, playing in a section, playing in varying acoustics, barrels, freelancing on Broadway, adjusting to various acoustics and how he started his freelance career.
Michelle Baker, second horn at the Metropolitan Opera for the past 25 years, detailed her job description and her role in the horn section. We talked about the brands of horns the members of the section play, the daily challenges of keeping up the “chops,” her warm up method and daily maintenance plan, how she maintains playing when taking time off and returning to playing, her learning plan for the new seasons repertoire, how to figure out what works best for your own playing, the level of preparation needed for auditions and concerts, what she looks for in choosing students, how to build trust/confidence for concerts or auditions and how she spends her downtime.
Trombonist and Conductor Dr. Per Brevig, joined us in the studio to talk about how his career evolved over time and how it lead him to conducting. He talks about how everything in his career has been progressive. We talk about; the diversity of his career, his interest in Jazz, Big Band and Contemporary Music, the importance of playing a broad choice repertoire, the shift in his career to conducting, his promotion of avant-garde music, how to be a good colleague, his conducting schedule and positions, programming choices, finding pleasure in various repertoire as a listener, what a soloist can expect when meeting with a conductor, his involvement as founder in the Grieg Society, and about his close work with the various composers including Carlos Chávez for the premier of the trombone concerto.
Principal Bassoonist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Billy Short shares his path to tenure and how he settled into his position. Playing four different operas a week offers him a variety of repertoire and he tells how the Principal Bassoonists decide their playing schedule. He talks about; the challenges of playing in an opera orchestra, acoustical challenges of changing venues, managing repertoire practicing, the process for learning new music, reed making and research, how to cultivate time management and practice skills, the process of auditioning and how to cultivate self confidence along the way, the importance of teaching in his career plans, the importance of self reflection in learning, performing and the focus on the process of learning.
Bass, Wilbur Pauley has performed many different roles in his career as entertainer-musician extraordinaire. Starting out as music educator and unable to find a k-12 teaching job, someone suggested moving to New York City since there was work for a Bass. After acquiring a steady church job to make rent, through serendipity he landed on Broadway in The Merchant of Venice with Dustin Hoffman. As one thing lead to another he found himself at another vocal call for a Kurt Weill workshop, which lead him later to creating “Hudson Shad”. He is the founder, arranger, performer and manager of Hudson Shad who performs music of the Comedian Harmonists, The Revelers and has performed as the ‘family’ in Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins all around the world. From his opera experience at the Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, the MET premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles to vocals for Disney Movies, he has found taking on any opportunity that he is offered has given him quite a fulfilling career as a freelance singer.