Woodwind Quintet – “Windscape” members, Tara Helen O’Connor, Randall Ellis, Alan R. Kay, David Jolley and Frank Morelli joined us for a lively conversations about their collaboration for over two decades of performing. We talked about their start, their first program and how they became associated with the Manhattan School of Music. Known for their thematic programing, they discuss how they; create arrangements, the process in road testing their new arrangements, finding new music, create programs and how to talk to an audience. We also spent time on the mundane logistics of getting five busy people together for rehearsals and how they have learned to rehearse efficiently. Throughout our conversation they focused on the importance of offering great music to audiences and focusing on the audience’s experience. From our conversation you can hear how much “joy” they have working together and their mutual esteem as colleagues allow them to work together so effectively.
We were delighted to have Oboist James Austin Smith share so many facets of his active career. First he talks about his steps to choosing the oboe and a career path, which steered him from an undergraduate double degree in political science and oboe to a Fulbright Scholarship in Germany, then back to the United States for a Masters at Yale. James talks about the difference of the European style of oboe playing and auditioning and how experiencing this led him to vary his career trajectory which is always goal driven, but how the path to that goal can be diverse. He shares his ideas about programing and the importance of being thoughtful about repertoire choice. Speaking candidly about his realization that he didn’t want the orchestral oboist path and finding his relevance in the music world, following a new route to a career. As a teacher he talks about how he focuses his students on the most important skills needed for a successful career.
After graduating with degrees in viola performance Chris Williams moved to New York, paving his own path into artist management. He talks about his ‘on the job education’ for the skills he needed to be an artist manager and music contractor. He communicates how to negotiate in securing management and how important it is to develop business skills along to be able to sell your musical skills. Offering specifics on how to promote you and your product to become noticed by management. Topics we discuss; branding, innovative programming, demands of touring, photo mistakes, promotional videos, reinventing programing to be invited back and talking during the performance with the audience. As an artist and entrepreneur himself he shares negotiating his own career as a pop songwriter and violist. Straddling both genres of music he offers interesting insight into bridging the gap for audiences from both sides.
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.