1506 W. 41st St
Richmond, VA 23225
BMus: Northwestern University – Vocal Performance
MMus: Boston University – Conducting
DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts): Peabody Conservatory
Professional/business/civic/nonprofit organizations in which you are/have been involved and positions held:
Current Position: Richmond Symphony – Associate Conductor, Interim Artistic Advisor, Choral Director
Volunteer: George Washington University Taekwondo (dctkd.org) – Editorial Committee
Richmond Philharmonic – Music Director
National High School Music Institute – Conductor
Peabody Conservatory – Resident Conductor
Baltimore School for the Arts – Orchestra Conductor
Virginia All-State Orchestra – Guest Conductor
Williamsburg Choral Guild – Guest Conductor
South Carolina Philharmonic – Guest Conductor
Publications/Recent Speaking Engagements:
“The Forum” – Second Presbyterian, Richmond
American Music Journal
Chesterfield County Public Schools
Conductor’s Guild Conference
Conductor’s Guild Journal
Hanover County Public Schools
Richmond City Public Schools
American Choral Directors Association
College Music Society
League of American Orchestras
Pi Kappa Lambda
Sigma Alpha Iota
Who were the important mentors you have had and how did they impact your career?
Conductor Robert Shaw’s pursuit of excellence with every ensemble he led has been a continued source of inspiration for me. No matter the age, level, or talent of the chorus or orchestra, he always treated them with respect, yet still pushed them further artistically than they ever thought possible. Singing and studying with him from childhood taught me that the best music – the best community – is greater than the sum of its parts. It is my hope that through music I can further that ideal in the communities in which I conduct.
Through the instruction of martial arts, Brian Wright, taekwondo master and instructor at George Washington Taekwondo, teaches sense of self, patience with learning (and therefore teaching), and strength of purpose. Working with him makes me a better educator and artist, and reminds me that my own journey as a leader necessitates finding new ways to learn and grow.
What do you consider your biggest personal and/or professional accomplishment and why?
This year, as Interim Artistic Advisor of the Richmond Symphony, I have artistically led the Richmond Symphony through an extended period of transition between music directors. I have helped guide the orchestra into its new home and have programmed three successful seasons. More important than these general accomplishments are the recent creations of several community building programs and relationships that bring together thousands of music lovers in shared commitment to the arts. Under my leadership, the Richmond Symphony has launched Lollipops (a family series) and Come and Play (an opportunity for musicians of all levels to rehearse and perform together), has brought the Youth Orchestras downtown to CenterStage, and has collaborated with several arts and educational institutions in the region. The success of these programs is evident every time a young student is inspired to begin an instrument, an older student gets a scholarship to college, or a parent rediscovers what it means to share a truly human experience.
What advice would you give to a young person graduating from college this spring?
Follow the words of Martin Luther King, Jr – words which I have written above my desk:
“If you want to be important, wonderful. If you want to be recognized, wonderful. If you want to be great, wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s the new definition of greatness. And this morning the thing that I like about it – by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” This philosophy offers no opportunity for excuses and every opportunity for growth.
How do you achieve a balance between your professional life and your personal life?
I involve my personal life in my professional life, sharing my excitement for what I do with my friends and family. As someone who is fortunate enough to pursue my passion for a living, the line between the two lives certainly does get blurred, and sometimes my professional life becomes all-consuming. I have never been convinced, however, that balance is the right term for the maintenance of a healthy sense of self, career, and family. That implies a consistently equal weight given to each. I find that my focus shifts fluidly between the various aspects of my life, and as long as I nurture respect for each, things generally turn out okay.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
When I was young, I wanted to be a medical doctor. Although I was heavily involved in music, I didn’t understand that it was actually a career until I began applying for college. As soon as I figured that out, I shifted my attention towards getting a doctorate in music. I am a doctor now – albeit a musical one, here for your symphonic emergencies.
What is your favorite book or movie and why?
Books such as East of Eden, The Awakening, and The Bluest Eye taught me that although I am certainly a product of my (fortunate) circumstances, my future is the result of my current actions, over which I have complete control. That is a liberating concept, but also one steeped in great responsibility.
What are two things about you that not many people know?
I hold a black belt in taekwondo, and co-teach a taekwondo class at Virginia Commonwealth University.
I have rafted down the entire length of the Grand Canyon twice with my mother. Never have I understood my place in the universe more clearly than when sleeping under that blanket of stars.