Monday, September 28, 2009

So Many Hats

I'm back home from one of the busiest weekends in memory. For the last day and a half I've been playing at Kol Nidrei and Yom Kippur services at Toronto's Temple Sinai, and yesterday was also the final show of Tapestry's Opera Briefs 9. Blogging time at last!

One of my younger pianists recently took me to task for not writing enough about myself on this blog. Many people often ask me exactly what I do, so here is a semi-complete listing of current professional hats:
  • faculty at the Royal Conservatory, including both Telus Centre and home studios. I currently teach piano, collaborative piano, and vocal coaching, then Vocal Lit in the spring for the Glenn Gould School. In addition, I'm the head of the vocal department at the Conservatory School (formerly the Community School), as well as a member of the Executive of the RCM Faculty Association.
  • a member of the Tapestry New Opera Works Studio Company. I just finished working as pianist for the 2009 International Composer/Librettist Laboratory (in August) and co-musical director of Opera Briefs 9 (which closed yesterday), and my next projects include the Tapestry 30th birthday fundraiser (in December) and Opera To Go (March 2010).
  • examiner for RCM Examinations. I examine up to the Grade 10 level, and I find this kind of work fascinating. The things I learn from watching hundreds of young pianists are invaluable to me as a teacher, and gives me a genuine perspective on what developing pianists find challenging and rewarding.
  • adjudicator and clinician - I'm often asked to adjudicate for festivals and give master classes for schools and programs. Although it's not always possible to watch a student's long-term progress with this method, it's always a pleasure to work with them and talk about great music.
  • freelance pianist - 5 years ago, this was the primary work I did. As my duties with the Royal Conservatory, RCM Examinations, and Tapestry have become more involved, I have less time to freelance, although I can now be much pickier than I used to be. Some interesting upcoming engagements include several outreach concerts for Opera Atelier (stay tuned). I also like to play voice auditions, partially to observe singers and the audition/hiring process, and partially because I'm an adrenaline junkie who loves opera arias.
  • High Holy Days pianist for Temple Sinai - being a pianist for one of Canada's largest congregations (5000+) requires a thorough knowledge of the Rosh Hashanah, Kol Nidrei, and Yom Kippur liturgy, as well as sight-reading, transposition, and keyboard harmony skills, not to mention endurance. Because of the size of the congregation, there are two sanctuaries in use for High Holy Days, and I play in the New Hall for the mostly voice and piano services there. Preparation has been much easier this year, as TS recently hired a second full-time cantor, Katie Oringel, who has been a pleasure to work with, and whose residence means I no longer have to frantically rehearse 3-4 hours of music in, well, 3-4 hours, but can spread out rehearsals over several weeks.
  • Blogger - my duties as blogger require me to not only write, but keep up with other writing in the classical music and music education fields. I also write for Music Teacher's Helper, as well as writing a few guest articles on other blogs. I'm also honored to have been asked to give talks about my blog, with the most recent being a workshop at VISI in Vancouver a few months ago. Fortunately, my job is made easier with the vast number of press releases sent to me from publicists. (NB: Hint for publicists reading this article - I really, really, really love to give away FREE stuff to my readers, so if you want me to write about your clients you might want to consider offering some swag.) In case you don't have a publicist, never fear - I'm always on the lookout for interesting projects that pianists are up to, so don't hesitate to send me info if you think my readers might be interested. Writing about everything isn't possible, but I try to mention as many things as possible when I have the time.
All these are in addition to my primary duties as husband and father, and every so often I actually get time to rest and reflect, like this evening...

1 comment:

  1. What? No comments? Or is everyone out there in Readerland simply stunned, as I am, into silence by the thought of one person doing all this.... Whew, Chris, you have amazing energy and I bet you play the piano quite well too. Thanks for all you do and share with us.