An integral part of my goal of being a well-rounded and experienced musician is my participation in various ensembles – not only has being in choirs and other performance groups always allowed me to remain connected to the greater musical community, but I have learned and continue to learn so much from my peers in these ensembles, and I have gleaned many insights as a conductor and teacher from watching others at work. As rewarding as being a conductor, teacher, or soloist can be, I wouldn’t give up my life as a “ripienist” for the world.
Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and VOCE
More info on my life a ripienist in our new home of Indianapolis is coming soon!
On the advice of a number of friends, upon moving to Seattle one of the first things I did was audition for The Esoterics. As a result of singing with them for the past couple of years not only have I made many wonderful friends, but I’ve been able to stretch myself by singing some of the most challenging music of my life (the Schnittke Psalms of Repentance springs immediately to mind) as well as a few pieces on my musical “bucket list” (the Rachmaninoff Vespers in the original OCS, Tarik O’Regan’s “The Ecstasies Above”). Being an avowed early music aficionado, this foray into the world of 20th- and 21st-century music has been a very enriching experience, and I’ve learned a lot about how to approach this music both as conductor and as a singer.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus & Chamber Chorus
While in Atlanta from 2008-2014, I was privileged to sing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus, with whom I performed some of music’s greatest masterworks, not only in Atlanta but at Carnegie Hall and even the Berlin Philharmonie! I had performed many “masterworks” with orchestra before, but never with a choir quite as large as the ASOC and certainly not with the attention to detail and precision that the rehearsal techniques pioneered by Robert Shaw instill into such an ensemble. Not to mention seeing great conductors like Robert Spano and Donald Runnicles on a regular basis has taught me many lessons about the combination of precision and artistry that comes from such fantastic musical minds, and inspired me in countless ways!
Thanks to the inroads in the choral community I made as a member of the ASOC, I was fortunate enough to be one of the founding members of Atlanta’s premier chamber chorus – Coro Vocati – with whom I sang for five seasons. Having always joined choirs that were well-established in their communities and had a solid foundational membership, it was an eye-opening experience to be a part of the nascent ensemble as it was being formed – without the stress of being in charge of such a group, I got an inside look at the strategies and machinations behind finding singers, venues, funding, and (lest we forget) an audience! The fact that the group has not only survived, but thrived, in recent years is a testament to the tenacity and vision of our artistic director John Dickson, as well as the dedication of its members – many of whom, like me, are professional musicians who give their time to be a part of great music-making.
What began as my search for a non-musical hobby quickly turned back into a musical one! After taking improv classes with Automatic Improv, I began workshopping with their ensemble as an improviser, and eventually discovered a knack for using my keyboard skills to play background music for improvised scenes, as well as collaborating on improvised songs in shows. For over two years I played shows with them nearly every week as their official musical improviser! (plus I occasionally accompany my good friend Kelly in her brilliantly-written pop song contrafacta to promote the group!) After learning the ins and outs of musical improv with Automatic, I became one of the musical improvisers at Dad’s Garage, Atlanta’s premier comedy and improv theater. Not only did I find a wonderful community of friends at Dad’s, but I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play shows featuring many notable guests, including Amber Nash, Scott Adsit, Colin Mochrie, and Fred Willard. In Seattle I played regularly at Jet City Improv, as well as with the independent improvised musical troupes Mike & Mali (with whom I played during their championship-winning run at the 2015 Duo Improv Tournament at Curious Comedy Theatre in Portland) and Boots&Cats. I have also accompanied Chicago-based musical improv groups (Eastwood and Buzzed Broadway) that performed at the Seattle Festival of Improv Theater in 2016 and 2017. Here in Indianapolis I can be seen regularly at ComedySportz Indianapolis on Mass Ave.
Viola da gamba
Although I still play and teach cello, I have fallen in love with the viola da gamba – not only the sound of the instrument and the rich body of repertoire written for it, but the amazing community of players that I’ve had the joy to make music with! In recent years I have had opportunities to play both consort and solo repertoire, as well as in larger ensembles such as New Trinity Baroque. Most recently in Seattle I have played with Ensemble Audax and am a founding member of the Tahoma Consort of Viols.
As a card-carrying member of the Viola da Gamba Society of America (as well as serving on its board from 2013-2015) I have attended multiple workshops and playing sessions throughout the country and have met a lot of amazing people. Much of the music written for consorts of viols is approachable enough to be played be amateurs, and the techniques of playing the different sizes of viol (treble, tenor and bass) are similar enough that it is much easier to pick up a different instrument then it would be, say, for a violinist to pick up a cello. This makes for an amazing modularity of playing – the practice of ‘tapping’ in and out of playing sessions allows anyone to play with anyone else, and often during workshops these playing sessions will extend late into the night. The viol community is one of the most diverse and accepting groups of people I’ve ever seen, and the fact that we were all brought together through music is a testament to the values I’ve spent my life furthering.