Category Archives: Concertizing

Getting Your Family Involved at the {Guthrie} Theater

This weekend was full of some really spectacular festivities at Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater. Nathan had the honor of being one of the performers for the 50th anniversary gala event on Saturday, and I had the honor of attending. It was truly an epic evening.

As sort of a newcomer to the theater scene, it was a great education for me as well. It is incredible how much of an impact this theater has had on many really talented and famous performing artists. And even with quite a number of those individuals involved in the performance it was so clear that they all love what they do and love working with the people of the Guthrie.

There was so much energy and excitement throughout the show. There were video montages of actors such sharing their memories of past work at the Guthrie. There were scenes from Death of a Salesman, Private Lives, The Royal Family, and The Tempest.  There were impassioned performances of “Lot’s Wife” (from Caroline, or Change) by Greta Oglesby, “Almost Like Being in Love” by Tracie Bennett,  “Somewhere” (from West Side Story) by Cantus, and the specially commissioned “Hamlet 3.2” (by Shakespeare and Jason Robert Brown) by Brian D’Arcy James and the whole ensemble. The crew all came together again in the end with “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide.

I came away with this intense desire to learn more about it – to go see shows – to read plays – to learn about these actors. There is truly something so powerful and transformative about the performing arts. Honestly I haven’t naturally been in love with them; it’s been more of a quest toward something that I know is good for me.  That’s why this evening was so fabulous. It was this celebratory sampling of highlights from the theater leaving my palette intrigued, excited, and inspired to pursue it more.

Believe it or not I actually did not set out to write a review of the evening, but I guess it was hard not to.  What I wanted to share was some info about some great programs that the Guthrie has going on. Programs that are definitely a step in the direction of pursuing a deeper understanding of the theater:

1 –  Summer Camps! (for the younger theater enthusiasts in your life)

2 – Play Care! (for the parents AND the younger theater enthusiasts in your life)

Check it out! – Childcare so that you can go see a play.

3 – Tours. This page has some fun resources for peeking behind the scenes at the Guthrie and learning more about the space and goings-on of the theater.

There really are a lot of other things to do at the Guthrie as a family, even if just a stroll around inside the beautiful structure.  Through Nathan’s time there in Pinafore and this event, we have had the girls around the place quite a bit and they love it.

It’s not just a place to see great theater, it is a place from which to see the beautiful city of Minneapolis in a spectacular way.

photo credit: openbuildings.comg

See, our daughter loves the place 🙂

Photo: On top of the town. Minneapolis is so cool.

Just some Birds perching in the 9th floor

(p.s. I’m finding it rather funny that I totally forgot to mention that Whoopi Goldberg was also on the program.  Yup, she flew down from the ceiling after the two hostesses did a sketch in chicken suits.  Anyway…)

April 20 – NorrSound to do their next show

What a week!

Within the span of 7 days Nathan had two major performances that have been in the works since last fall.  And splashed around each of those were some smaller gigs that have altogether made for quite a production potpouri.

Now let me tell you about your next opportunity to attend one of his events:

Saturday, 4/20/13
5:30 Dinner, 7:15 Concert
Cross of Glory Church, 4600 Shady Oak Road, Hopkins, MN
ticket required for dinner *Make reservation by MONDAY April 15*

Nathan and the four other singers in his newly formed NorrSound Vocal Ensemble will be providing the entertainment at this event designed to raise funds for mission trips and local outreach opportunities for the youth at Cross of Glory Church.

Music will consist of a variety of selections from film music to classical to new Christian hymns.  Nathan’s wife Naomi will be accompanying on the piano.

The food options sound fabulous: 1) Beef tenderloin with garlic horseradish cream 2) Blueberry onion Pork tenderloin 3) Vegetarian couscous and vegetables. All options include green beans, baked potato, and desert.

Cost for the meal is $15. Donations will be taken during the dinner and show. Complimentary valet parking, coat check, and childcare will be provided.

Nathan’s solo CD with the Massif Trio, as well as Ami Andersen’s CD Shelter – music from which is on the program – will be available for purchase. 50% of the procedes from CD sales will go toward the fundraising goal for the youth.

Place your dinner order by calling Justin at 612.325.4596

Ami Andersen CD Release Concert!

Ami Andersen is a name that I’ve mentioned quite a few times on this blog.  Not only do I love hearing her music, a fresh and respectful approach to resetting old hymns, but I love PERFORMING it too.  This weekend, I get to perform some of her music for you.

She has completed her long-awaited debut album after a successful fundraising campaign with a account, and now YOU get to hear her music.  It’s entitled Shelter: Hymns Resung and you can read more about it here.

This very weekend, I invite you to make your way to All Nations Baptist Church at 1300 Lowry Ave. NE Minneapolis, MN. Saturday, July 28th at 7:00 PM and/or Sunday, July 29th at 6:00 PM.

The two concerts are slightly different as the Sunday night performance will be part of an All-Nations 5th Sunday Hymn Sing.  I hope to see you there.

Taste of Heaven

Look familiar? It’s the inspiration for their flag. There are acres of sunflowers in the countryside as far as the eye can see.

Thank you so much to the friends and family who were praying for my family and I during my time in Ukraine.  I could sense your support very much.  I thankfully remained in pretty good health for the duration of the trip.  It is so good to be back with my loving wife and beautiful girls.   It’s sad to see how Patience has grown and changed in just two weeks.

An Evening in Kyiv (Kiev) from my Hotel Window

The main question concerning Evangelion’s 8th trip to Ukraine this year was whether their experiment would work.  The experiment was to fill out our numbers with Ukrainian singers who rehearsed on their own.  We wondered if the sound would blend, if they’d know the music, or if the language barrier would be prohibitive.  At our first joint rehearsal we were all amazed and praising God for the beauty we were able to create with these brothers and sisters on the other side of the planet.  Besides making some amazing music together, we developed relationships that would never have been possible with an earlier model of touring.

Mr. Sergii Bilokin and his lovely wife Nadiia

Having this closer connection to the Ukrainian people gave us a better sense of our impact as well.   However, as in any missions trip, I feel like I received more than I gave.

Tenor extraordinaire Tim Faatz and some Ukrainians we met in Poltava.

In any future work I do overseas with an ensemble, I hope to use this model of cross-cultural collaboration.  It was a taste of heaven: humbling, sweet and glorious.

10 Years of Choir

It was 2001 and I was a home schooled highschooler of sixteen at Normandale Community College, thanks to Minnesota’s PSEO opportunities.   While I had been studying voice and piano for a little while, the choir at NCC was my first experience of choral singing.  The sheer mass of sound shattered my perceptions of what was possible with music.  This little college choir made me excited to do more.  In the 10 years since then, I’ve have had many unforgettably wonderful experiences performing with vocal ensembles and choirs.  This post is a small tribute to some of these amazing groups.

The Northwestern College Choirs I had the privilege of singing with cemented the place for choir in my heart.

The ear-training work in NWC Chamber Singers, under the direction of the lovely Dr. Mary Kay Geston prepared me for the rigor of singing with Cantus last year.   Geston’s programming was difficult for my young choral mind, but so enriching.   The contrast between renaissance music one semester followed by vocal jazz in the next was like jumping into a time machine.

NWC’s Varsity Men’s Chorus and College Choir under the baton of Tim Sawyer brought me out of a shell and gave me a community of music and faith that was a lovely thing.   I was privileged to be a part of the life-changing 2006 Eastern European Tour to Germany, Poland, and most notably, Ukraine.

I would be remiss if this post didn’t mention anything about the extension ministries teams at Northwestern College that were such a wonderful community.  As an awkward freshman, I performed and toured alongside some wonderfully talented musicians that took me under their wing and helped me understand my place in college.

Dr. Catherine Sailer, director of the Lamont Chorale at Denver University’s Lamont School of Music, created inspiring and beautiful music with a voracity and clarity that is not often seen.  Not only does she head up the choral department at one of the most elite music schools west of the Mississippi, but she is also a caring mother of two boys.  She is an inspiration for those in this world that are musicians with families.

Cantus.  Oh Cantus.  While it’s more of a vocal ensemble than a choir per se, I still need to mention it.  Few words can describe the joy of performing with such talented men.  Not only was I able to rehearse with them during my temporary position last year, I got to perform two concert programs around the metro area and record a Christmas CD.  They are a non-profit, full-time, self-led male vocal ensemble.  Their performance is crafted in detail.  Their programs are full of meaning.  Their sound is addictive.

The choir that I’m in now is Evangelion.  They exist to bring sacred choral works to Ukraine, especially in secular venues.  I’m thrilled to be working with Dr. Dennis Port, director of Bethel University’s choral program.  I’ll be heading to Ukraine for the third time this summer.  More about this trip later…

Sing with someone.  Join a choir.  Attend a choir concert.  It may change your life.

Defining Success – The Entrepreneurial Musician

When informing people of my career path I am occasionally asked “Are you successful?” or, “Are you making a living?”  I appreciate the sentiment behind both of these questions.  People like to know what life is like for a professional musician and I am glad that a lot of folks care about how my family and I are doing, even when asking about my income.  However, this is a question that is hard to answer.  This is something I will wrestle with this week via the blog.

What is success in the life of a classically-trained operatically capable musical theater tenor?  I have not sung at Carnegie Hall.  I’ve had some successes, but does that make me a successful musician?  I have a couple of CDs  which you should purchase here.  The answer is…in terms of life on planet earth…no.  When people ask about success, what they really mean is…well, that other question, “Are you actually making enough money to pay for life?”

For a classically trained musician your income will probably be a concoction of many things.   Perform. Direct. Teach. Record. Compose. Produce.  Being able and willing to diversify your income is necessary.  How you do this determines whether you can be called an entrepreneur.

While my education at NWC and DU was exceptional and inspiring, as I learn about making life work as a musician I have frequently thought since then, “It would’ve been nice to learn about this in school.”  Being gifted in music, and having the knack and drive to complete a couple of degrees does not automatically make you an entrepreneur.  The qualities that make business-minded people excel are often the opposite qualities of an artist.

Willfulness. Perseverance.  Luck.  These words are some of what Fred Rosen used to describe an entrepreneur.  Rosen, the former owner and CEO of Ticketmaster, offered these words to Artists House Music.  He said that the two most important elements of an entrepreneur is that, in the second grade you failed the “plays well with others” and that you have a “monumental fear of failing” as this would be your “driving force….” when you are truly alone.  I have always been a nice guy and often prided myself at my willingness to fail for the sake of remaining positive.  According to Rosen I don’t have it.

I found a blog posting on about the most successful entrepreneurial musicians of our day.  I was surprised that so many of their business ventures were outside of music.  I was also surprised that there were no classical musicians on the list.  I know they are not as popular, but some have become quite weathly via their entrepreneurship.

I don’t want to be the owner of conglomeration that may include restaurants, production companies, record labels, fashion designs, clothing lines, and at least one fragrance.  I don’t need the press, or media coverage.  I have no desire to become a sensation in and of itself.  I need a different definition of success.  It is not possible to sing very well when you’re consumed by a “monumental fear of failing.”  Nor would I believe it possible to live well and be a husband and father of any considerable good under such duress.  In singing, fear of failure produces tension which inhibits the sound.

In an article by Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot, he calls for “re-eappropriating the phrase “making a living.”  Perhaps instead we can think of a life in art, and following our passions as making life worth living.

I don’t have any plans for a fragrance, or even a label.  However, I have many thoughts about how to make music more accessible, enhance music appreciation, encourage funding for the arts, bridge across art forms, and create interesting and beautiful concert experiences.

I think I will start there.

Colorado Concert – by Mail!

What a week this has been! Since this is the first time we have done this sort of thing – doing our own concert series – we are learning quite a bit about ourselves and about the process.  Last week’s programs in Minnesota went well.  It has been so good to have the chance to figure out what to change and tweek and rearrange for each next concert.  It has also been extremely challenging figuring out how to balance work and family when it is so intertwined throughout this process.  Thank you thank you to the many people who have been helping with childcare to afford us rehearsal time!

December 14 at Cross of Glory in Hopkins

Fortunately, Nathan graciously decided against firing his accompanist despite her being out of commission due to recovering from compound stress of travelling + 3 year old + 9 month old. Things are looking up and Ms. Accompanist is looking forward to tonight’s concert…or so I’m told 🙂 Continue reading