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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Day

Thanks to my teachers on Teacher Appreciation Day: Of course, my parents for everything they gave me--unconditional support throughout my life. Mr. Wilson in 7th grade in Florissant, MO--he told me I should sing in the A Cappella choir next year--we moved back to Seattle, but I DID join the choir. I also started singing in the youth choir at Haller Lake Methodist (we sang for the early service every Sunday) and Helen Pedersen was a wonderful influence.

Junior HS and early HS was Leonard Moore, followed by Neil Lieurance. Neil student taught at Shorecrest HS my sophomore year, taught special ed the next year, but accompanied the select choir and became my voice teacher. He was the person who first suggested I major in music. Neil has been a mentor and friend ever since. Neil also introduced me to Bob Scandrett at WWU, so I went to summer workshops there during college with Gregg Smith, Günter Graulich, and Louis Halsey. In addition, Bob organized the most amazing choral study tour of England--you can find details on my blog if you're interested.

Undergrad at the University of Washington was Rod Eichenberger, my first conducting teacher and a wonderful one! There's so much I gained from Rod, much of it simply a part of me--I would say, most of all, a sense of rhythm and phrasing. Rod has also remained a friend and mentor, although we don't see each other regularly. When I took the job at PLU (where I followed Maurice Skones) he called and said he'd also followed a legend (Charles Hirt at USC) and was available for advice or just to talk any time.

During that time I also sang in almost every grad recital I could, which was where I learned to read and also learned so much from those conductors. While there are too many to mention, I'd say Bruce Browne and Larry Marsh stand out as important influences.

While an undergrad I also studied in the orchestral conducting class of Samuel Krachmalnick, a brilliant musician and conductor. Learned an amazing amount from him (and also sat in on most of his rehearsals for a couple years).

I can't help but mention Nancy Zylstra, from whom I learned (and continue to learn) an enormous amount. She was my partner in crime in starting the Seattle Pro Musica groups. Those ensembles (Pro Musica Singers, Bach Ensemble, and Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra) truly provided my REAL education--the repertoire I got to do with them taught me more than any grad school could (pace to my grad schools, who will be mentioned!). Many individuals were influential, but I have to mention Randall Jay McCarty, who was an important guide as I began to explore early music.

I also began to conduct at the Pacific NW Bach Festival in Spokane in 1978 and continued through 1985 to work with many talented period instrumentalists (Stanley Ritchie among them) and the wonderful Dutch baritone Max van Egmond. Huge thanks to David Dutton and Beverly Biggs for making that possible.

Then I taught at Mt. Holyoke College for three years and discovered I loved teaching. A return to the Northwest and Pacific Lutheran University (for 18 years!) was another amazing part of my education. My students at MHC, PLU and now UNT have again taught me more than I can possibly say (and much more than I taught them). My experiences with the Choir of the West and Choral Union were simply amazing. My various colleagues were also fantastic--many more than these were important, but I can't help mentioning Richard Nance (who just did such a brilliant concert at ACDA in Dallas) and Mira Frohnmayer (chair of the voice department for my entire time at PLU).

In the same way, the singers of the Seattle Symphony Chorale (1990-94), Choral Arts (an inaugural concert with Eric Ericson in 1993 until 2006), and Pro Coro Canada (1999-2011) also were an enormous influence and inspiration. Thank you to all my singers, board members and supporters.

Although I would never say I'm even remotely his student, a mountaintop experience with Helmuth Rilling and the Mass in B Minor in 1972 at the Oregon Bach Festival was a huge influence (I'd watched him work in Stuttgart in 1971 when I stayed in Europe after the UW Chorale tour that summer). In may ways it changed my musical life.

My MM at the UW with Abraham Kaplan was an interesting time--Abe was not so much a fantastic teacher, but I did learn much from him. He was freshly from NY and lots of work with the Collegiate Chorale, Camerata Singers and Leonard Bernstein--his rehearsal technique, in particular, at that time was incredibly efficient and a great model. And among my fellow students, Andrew Bernard and James Savage were fantastic colleagues and I learned much from them.

My DMA at the College-Conservatory of Music/U Cincinnati was terrific with Elmer Thomas, John Leman, and Earl Rivers, plus Teri Murai in my orchestral conducting minor. Too many fellow students who were fantastic colleagues and teachers, but I'll mention Edie Copley and David DeVenney (David kept me sane during my year in residence). I also enjoyed tremendously coming back to CCM as a guest professor in 2006 and briefly in 2009. Earl is a great colleague and has been a great friend as well. And I loved working with the students--in 2006 this was what convinced me that I needed to go back to teaching.

An unexpected opportunity at the University of North Texas led to a return to teaching in 2009. Again, great colleagues (Jerry McCoy and many others) and fantastic students have made it a great learning experience.

And I can't say anything without mentioning my great mentor and model (although I would never say my teacher, since I never studied with him), Eric Ericson. I first met Eric briefly at the 1983 ACDA conference, then had the opportunity (thanks to Bruce Browne) to bring him and his conservatory Chamber Choir to the summer PLU workshop--not only once, but twice. There were other contacts, too and, as mentioned, he conducted the first Choral Arts concert. I decided to do a dissertation on some aspect of Swedish music and first visited Sweden for a month in 1989 to find a topic. I then came back for the full summer of 1990 to do my research. Eric literally opened every possible door for me--he was simply marvelous in every way. I was back again in 1996 to finish up research and finally start writing (and got to attend the 50th anniversary concert of Eric's Chamber Choir and attend the dinner). Then in 2002 I did two sessions with Eric and Gary Graden on my book at the IFCM conference in Minneapolis, then followed up with a visit back to Sweden in November for a presentation at the Choral Centre in Uppsala and a first guest-conducting experience with the Swedish Radio Choir. Other visits would be in 2007 and 2008. I have so many Swedish conductor friends that it's hard to mention some and leave so many out, but I'll mention both Robert Sund and Gary Graden anyway!

It's hard to quantify Eric's influence, but it's there in so many ways. I can only thank him for all he's meant to me and my musical life.

I'm sure I've left someone out--if so, I'm sorry! I've been more fortunate than I can reasonably have hoped in my life to have so MANY unbelievably wonderful teachers, colleagues, students and musicians to teach me.

I've been blessed.

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