Jason Tramm. Jason is a passionate conductor and promoter of music with more than a few titles attached to his name. He tells Kevin and Carol how he keeps himself busy with his passion as well as remaining a dedicated father.
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.
Voice Teacher, Beth Roberts, faculty at the Mannes College of Music, always knew she wanted to be a teacher, she studied music education as well as vocal performance and made an effortless transition from performer to voice teacher. We discussed; her rules for teaching various voice ranges, her path to teaching voice, her performance career, apprentice performance programs, what she looks for in young singers, how to audition, the importance of being a ‘good’ colleague, her work with the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the art of giving of a Master Class, the importance of studying Art Songs, the importance of vocal health and the speaking voice and when to know at what age to start voice lessons.
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.
Collaborative Pianist Warren Jones talked with us about his journey to achieving his career. Crucial to this process was his focus early on in his education to choose electives and courses in college that would help him to achieve these goals. We talked about, the difference between accompanying instrumentalists and singers, how music is made, necessary skills for collaborative pianist, how to learn these skills, importance of language skills and he shared many entertaining stories about his career.
Collaborative Pianist-Vocal Coach, Susan Caldwell is a faculty member at Mannes College of Music and was assistant conductor at the New York City opera for 27 years. Her path to her current career flowed naturally from her education as a pianist and organist, which lead her towards opera coaching and accompanying. We talked about; difference voices and the age development and when careers are usually launched, the importance of knowing languages for singers and vocal coaches, necessary skills for a vocal accompanist, how the opera experience in the orchestra pit influenced her ability to accompany and understand the score, the importance of the rehearsal process, defining the role of a vocal coach, the business side to the vocal profession, the art of collaborative performing and the necessary skills needed to be a successful vocal coach.
Composer Christopher Cerrone, a member of the composer collective ‘Sleeping Giant’ talks about the range of instrumentation of his compositions and the challenges of writing an opera. Being drawn to the voice and using his love of literature he combined the two and found himself writing for the voice. He started writing an opera without much foresight and shares his process, and recommendations of what he learned through the process. From the age of about 16 he fell in love with classical music and started writing music without any compositional training, but found his way to NYU then to Manhattan School of Music for his musical training. Christopher talks about; networking in the music world and how it has lead him to be composing primarily on commission, the collaborative process with performers and it’s importance in the compositional process, difficulty of writing compositions that are difficult and finding a balance of playability, instrumentation, getting a piece played a second time and after the premier and advice to young composers today.
Bassoonist/Master Teacher, Frank Morelli, talks about his mentors/role models and how he came to classical music through the back door. While in high school playing the saxophone, he first thought he was going to be an engineer, later he went off to college pursuing a major in music education. His focus and determination on self-improvement lead him to write a letter to the professor of bassoon and transferring to the Manhattan School of Music (MSM). While at MSM his focus changed and his abilities grew. Dr. Morelli shares the secret of his success as a student and the tools for all students to be successful. As a master teacher he discusses his student-centered teaching philosophy and how he continues to focus on improving his teaching skills. He talks about the audition process for schools, the purpose for taking a lesson before the audition with possible teachers, and what he looks and listens for in a student. He offers timeless advice to all musicians for finding their own career path and how he measures his own success as a teacher.
Richard Adams shares his career path that lead him from being a creative writer, a French Horn orchestral player, music management, theater management, to a 31 year tenure at the Manhattan School of Music starting in the career planning office, later as Director of Admission, various Dean positions and finally Vice President. As the founder of conservatory career training he speaks frankly about the skills that musicians need to cultivate to be successful in selling themselves and creating a music career. Sharing how he instigated changes to the conservatory curriculum, how he managed the resistance along with these changes, and how this lead the way to innovations in conservatory education. He talks about what it was like being an administrator, the skills he used, experience in hiring of new faculty, and how to negotiate the politics and culture.