Musical Director

  • Interview with virtuoso pianist Joseph Holt

    5-16-17 Interview

    5-16-17 Joseph Holt is the Artistic Director of Choral Artists of Sarasota (formerly Gloria Musicae) as well as the Artistic Director of Artists Series Concerts, he is a virtuoso pianist who played all over the world before coming to settle in Sarasota. He was apparently a hyper active child, who was “scattered all over the place” and “something of a hellion.” So much so that a committee was formed in the church where his father was pastor to pray for “the soul of little Joey Holt.” Hoping that an extracurricular activity would give him an outlet (focus) for all his energy, Joey was given a choice of several activities; little league, cub scouts or piano lessons. Even though his family didn’t own a piano and he had to practice on a paper keyboard, with a little encouragement from his grandmother, a pianist herself, Joey choose piano. And from the very first lesson it was clear that the Joe and the piano were linked. Listen to this still exuberant man describe his amazing career, what’s next for the organizations he shepherds and hear him play the compelling “Dance of the Giving Maiden,” live.

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  • Interview with Sinai Tabak – Musical Director of Guys and Dolls

    Interview with Sinai Tabak – Musical Director of Guys and Dolls

    8-2-16 Interview

    11-15-16 At only 25 years old Sinai Tabak has already been Musical Director for four major musicals. Ironically Sinai only began to take piano lessons because his grandmother had given the family a piano. Uninterested in traditions lessons Sinai was captured by a piece he thought would be fun to play – Listen to him play it even now. And although he studied piano and flute and sang in school choirs, it wasn’t until he was asked to accompany the school choir that he began to feel that there was fun to be had playing the piano. And when he was asked to fill in for a musical director, playing for a musical – he was hooked. Although never actually deciding what career to pursue, when he had to decide on a college major, he found that he was unwilling to stop musical directing. Listen to this delightful, articulate, funny, talented young man describe his life’s journey and come and hear the result of his choices as he musical directs his 3rd production for the Asolo Repertory Theater – this time the opening musical of the season Guys and Dolls

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  • Interview with Len Murphy

    5-24-16 Interview

    6-28-16 Musician, educator, triathlon competitor Len Murphy has spent most of his life making and teaching music. Ironically, although both his parents were musicians and although he was given piano lessons early in his life (unfortunately the teacher rejected him),and although he took the clarinet lessons his dad set up for him which actually liked – it wasn’t until he heard a saxophone playing Jazz ( perhaps that of Stan Getz) that he fell in love. From then on he simply inhaled music. He taught himself the sax, later he would teach himself the flute and bassoon, and chose to skip college a go into the Navy which promised an opportunity to play music – Listen to Len tell of his experiences in the Navy. After the Navy he discovered that playing music for a living was more difficult than he’d thought and with a wife and 1 and ½ children to support, he got a straight job. When a friend casually commented that his Army G.I. Bill would pay for his education (somehow this information had eluded him) he went to college got a BA and Masters and began a career in teaching which would take him to the school in NJ where he spent 30 very happy years. Listen to this enthusiastic, energetic and dedicated a man talk about a life in which he found his passion and never looked back.

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  • Interview with Conductor Donald Chan

    12/8/15 Audio Interview

    The multi-talented Donald Chan is a conductor, musical director, pianist and composer. His repertoire includes 75 or 80 musicals. He has guest conducted at the American Conservatory Theater, the Seattle Repertory Theater and the Cleveland and Seattle Opera Houses. Donald was the musical director for the St. Louis Municipal Opera, the largest theater in the United States, for 12 years. Today, with director/choreographer Joey Mc Neely, he travels the world bringing the real version of West Side Story which he has conducted more than a thousand times. Luckily for us he is currently bringing his experience and expertise to the stage at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Although he has worked with Gene Kelly, Ethel Merman, Chita Rivera, Carol Lawrence, Joel Grey, Sid Caesar, Len Cariou, Clark Terry and Shelly Manne to name a few, Donald is soft spoken and self-deprecating. In this show listen to him talk about the outrageous schedule he kept during his time at the St. Louis Municipal Opera and his decision to courageously follow his passion to be a musician and a conductor, so clearly the right choice, even though it disappointed his father who wanted him to be a dentist, also hear Pam Wiley’s review of the Asolo’s production of West Side Story and some of its glorious music.

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  • Audio Interview with David Lutken

    6/16/15 Interview

    David Lutken is anything but the charming hayseed he may appear. With a BA in the classics – mostly Greek – from Duke University (his father told him not to study something that would get him a job but to get an education, and by the way to study the “hardest thing they’d got” – would that we’d all had David’s Dad) and a graduate degree in acting at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. David is a skilled actor, musician, musical director and playwright, but primarily David is an entertainer. Like the epic poets he studied -Ovid, Vigril, Homer – and Woody Guthrie put David in front of an audience and put a guitar in his hand and sit back and enjoy yourself. Currently you can enjoy David in Woody Sez, a musical biography of Woody Guthrie which David wrote based on Woody’s writings as well as his music, at the request of Harold Leventhal – Woody’s manager. It is playing at the Asolo Repertory Theatre until June 21st. Listen to this unusual man talk about how he “evolved” into the multi-tasking artist he is and hear him sing his favorite Woody Guthrie song – Pretty Boy Floyd.

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  • Interview with Bill Barbanera

    5-20-14 Audio Interview

    Bill Barbanera is the conductor and musical director of the 45 piece Sarasota Concert Band, a high level semi professional group of musicians who play six to eight concerts a year, the most important of which is their Memorial Day concert honoring those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom. The concert takes place at Philippi Creek Park on May 26th, parking and kids are free others pay $5.00. The band will offer patriotic music and some lighter fare, as well as vocal performances by Ben Turoff. This year they will be highlighting the world premiere of Glory and Honor a stirring piece written by local composer David Ohrenstein and arranged for the concert band by his wife, actor, singer and author, Sharon Lesley. In this interview Bill talks about how he discovered his interest in and talent for playing “anything with a reed in it; saxophone, clarinet, oboe and bassoon,” and how he turned that talent into his career as conductor, musical director and teacher. Also whet your appetite for the real thing by listening to a digital version of Glory and Honor, and hear composer David Ohrensteirn at the piano playing George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

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  • Interview with Jay Dodge

    3-11-14 Audio Interview
    Until he saw Wirlie Morris (who produces for Charlie Wilson) play the bass Jay Dodge thought he was going to be a baseball player. But there was something so mesmerizing about the way Wirlie played that Jay immediately picked up a bass and started to fool around with it. Then a miraculous thing happened; listen to Jay describe how his pastor laid hands on him and pronounced that he would play the bass. The rest is history – well baseball was history anyway. As he progressed on the bass Jay knew for sure that he had found his destiny. Listen to him tell the story of how, although he had never musical directed, he became the Musical Director of the West Coast Black Theater Troupe in Sarasota Florida. Today he is also the company’s Project Manager. Currently Jay is Musical Directing the WBBT production of Harry and Lena. Listen to this gentle, thoughtful, optimistic man talk about his life and his relationship to music.

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  • Interview with Wade Russo

    12-10-13 – Audio Interview

    Wade Russo is the Musical Director of the Asolo Repertory Theatre production of Show Boat and there could hardly have been a better choice, as he fell in love with the score of Show Boat early in his life and never lost his enchantment with it.

    This enchantment led him to read everything there is on the subject. Listen to the fascinating stories he tells about the way Edna Ferber (who wrote the book on which the show is based) came to write it. And listen to Sharon Leslie’s glowing review of the current production.

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  • Interview with Michael Rice

    12-18-12 – Audio Interview

    Michael Rice’s parents brought a piano for his older sister but it was little Michael who at 5 was immediately drawn to it and immediately began to pick out songs. Since then, when it comes to music, Michael has done it all. He was a music therapist ; he played in the most famous piano bars in New York, he accompanied cabaret acts and ballet classes. But he was also passionate about composing and so adapted and wrote the music and lyrics for Berthold Brecht’s “The Good Woman of Szechwan.” And also for a pastiche play called “American Beauty” which including pieces by Pulitzer Prize winning author Romulus Linney and Drama Desk Award nominee Jack Hefner. Michael began his musical director career as part of the original creative team of the musical “Nunsense,” which won four Outer Critics circle Awards, and went on to become the second-longest-running Off Broadway show in history. Today Michael is, for the second time, Musical Director for the Musical 1776, this time at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Listen to this delightful, ingenious man talk about the way he followed his heart. Knowing from the age of 5 that he was born to make music and taking every opportunity to do just that.

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  • Interview with Corinne Aquilina

    11/13/12 – Interview

    Currently running at FST’s main stage is Smokey Joe’s Café. In this show you can hear the Musical Director, Corinne Aquilina, who was the arranger/music director for the long running, Off-Broadway show Menopause, The Musical, and played in the Broadway pit of Boy From Oz, talk about this play which she has “gotten up” several times and this particular production. Then listen to the funny, passionate and exuberant Arthur Marks, one of the remarkable players appearing in Smokey, talk about his journey to becoming the versatile and in demand performer he is. When Arthur was 5 he heard his mother sing in church. Without a mike the former Opera singer’s glorious voice filled the room and seeing that the congregation was just as “moved and captivated” as he was, Arthur decided that he too would do that. He made his debut the next year at the same church. And at 6 ½ had his first professional job as a boy soprano in a production of The Magic Flute – for which he sang in German. Gene Kelly’s Singing in the Rain made him want to dance and he studied ballet, tap jazz etc. He studied the piano and the viola (because everyone else was learning the violin.) When the band needed a trombone player he volunteered to learn it, when the symphonic band needed a Bassoonist – ditto. He says he was like a sponge. Listen to him talk about a life filled with the joy of performance and come see the result of all that rigorous training on stage in Smokey Joe’s Café.

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