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John Cuk

Father's Day Ep. - US conductor + educator

S2 Ep49

John Cuk

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Each Father's Day I like to do a few special eps. To mark the occasion in the Northern Hemisphere my guest for this special Father’s Day Episode is John Cuk, from New York, USA. John is a conductor, musician, music educator and accompanist, and a dad of 2 girls.

John started playing the piano at age 5, played the trumpet in a band, sang in choirs, grew up going to the theatre, opera and going to concerts, even though his parents weren’t musical he was exposed to the arts. In school he sang in the choir and played in the band. He dreamt of going on to study to be a music teacher, as well as holding on to the desire to be a performer in his own right.

He went on to study degrees from Manhattanville College and The Manhattan School of Music as well as post graduate work from Westminster Choir College and gained his Masters in Piano Performance.

John juggled being a professional musician with being a full time teacher for many years, enjoying the grounding that being in the class room brought him.

John's career in academia spanned 40 years. He has taught at Scarsdale High School, Somers High School, Middle Schools in Chappaqua, New Rochelle, Rye and at The Anglo-American School in New York. He retired from his position as the Director of Choirs at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY in 2018 after 16 collective years there.

John has a varied background as a musician and educator.

As a conductor, he’s conducted choral and orchestral ensembles in Europe, South America and the United States. He has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Marmorsaal, Schloss Mirabell (Salzburg, Austria), Teatrului Național de Operă și Balet ‘Oleg Danovski’ (Constanța, Romania), Kennedy Library (Boston), Música Sin Edad (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Temppeliauki, (Helsinki, Finland) and The International Youth Orchestra Festival (Lucca, Italy).

Active in musical theatre and opera, John has held positions with Music in the Alps International Festival in Austria, Opera Estate in Rome Italy, Utopia Opera and Dell' Arte Opera in New York, New York, Buck Hill/Skytop Festival in Pennsylvania, Westchester Conservatory's Summer Vocal Music Academy in White Plains, New York, as well as Musical Director for countless musical theatre productions both at the high school and college level.

Guest conducting includes Ridgefield Symphony (CT), Chorus and Orchestra of Teatrului Național de Operă și Balet ‘Oleg Danovski’ Constanța, Romania, Orchestra Sinfonica di Bacau, Romania in Italy, Moldova Radio Symphony in Chisinau Moldova, National Chorale's Annual Messiah-Sing-In at Avery Fisher Hall as well as choral festivals for Western Connecticut, Suffolk, Duchess and Westchester Counties in New York.

He is active as a coach, accompanist, pianist and guest conductor. John performs frequently with singers and chamber musicians and is currently a staff pianist for The Bronx Opera.

It is always interesting on these occasions to get the male parent perspective on things. I think it is something that many of us are interested in, it certainly comes up as a topic in many of my chats with mums. I'm very grateful for John for allowing me to delve deep and ask the big questions.

We also chat a lot about a shared passion of choral music, choral singing and music overall.

Connect with John

Connect with the podcast

Music throughout this episode is taken from the public domain and therefore not subject to copyright.

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Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page

Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast

I can't wait to connect. And remember if you or somebody you know would like to be a guest on the podcast, get in touch! I love meeting and chatting to mammas from all creative backgrounds, from all around the world!


Thank you!


Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.


Welcome to the Art of Being a mum, the podcast that's a platform for mothers who are artists and creatives to share the joys and issues they've encountered, while continuing to make art. Regular themes we explore include the day to day juggle, how mother's work is influenced by the children, mum guilt, how mums give themselves time to create within the role of mothering, and the value that mothers and others place on their artistic selves. My name's Alison Newman. I'm a singer, songwriter, and a mom of two boys from regional South Australia. You can find links to my guests and topics we discussed in the show notes. Together with music played, how to get in touch, and a link to join our lively and supportive community on Instagram. The art of being a mum acknowledges the Bondic people as the traditional owners of the land, which his podcast is recorded on. Thanks so much for joining me. Today I present a special Father's Day episode to mark the occasion in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom. It is always interesting on these occasions, to get the male parent perspective on things. I think it's something that many of us are interested in. And it certainly comes up as a topic in many of my chats with moms. My guest for this special episode is Shaun cook. He's from Connecticut in the USA. John is a conductor, musician, music educator and accompanist and a dad of two girls. John started playing the piano at age five. He played the trumpet in a band, singing choirs grew up going to the theater, opera and to concerts. And even though his parents weren't musical, he was exposed to the arts from a young age. In school, he sang in the choir and played in the band. He dreamt of going on to study to be a music teacher, as well as holding on to the desire to be a performer in his own right. John went on to study degrees from Manhattanville College and the Manhattan School of Music as well as postgraduate work from the Westminster choir college, and he gained his master's in piano performance. John juggled being a professional musician, with being a full time teacher for many years, enjoying the grounding that being in the classroom brought him. John's career in academia has spanned 40 years. He has taught at Scarsdale High School, summers high school, middle schools in Topanga, New Rochelle, right and at the Anglo American school in New York. In addition, he retired from his position as the director of choirs at Manhattanville College in purchase New York in 2018. After 16 collective years there, John has a varied background as a musician and educator. As a conductor. He's conducted choral and orchestral ensembles in Europe, South America and the United States. He has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, and Avery Fisher Hall, as well as in Salzburg, Austria, in Romania, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Helsinki, Finland, and in Lucca, in Italy, active in musical theater and opera, John has held positions with music in the Alps International Festival in Austria, opera estate in Rome, Italy, Utopia Opera in New York, New York, among others, as well as musical director for countless musical theater productions, both at the high school and college level. John is active as a coach accompanist, pianist and guest conductor. He performs frequently with singers and chamber musicians, and is currently a staff pianist for the Bronx opera. I greatly appreciate John's openness and honesty throughout this chat. And for allowing me to delve deep and ask the big questions. We also chat a lot about a shared passion of choral music, choral singing, and music in general. I hope you enjoy the music you'll hear throughout this week's episode is in the public domain and therefore is not subject to copyright. Thanks so much for joining me today, John, all the way from United States. Thanks so much for coming on.

Thank you for having me inviting me.

So whereabouts are you over there?

I'm in the Northeast. I live in a town in the state of Connecticut about an hour's drive north of New York City.

Yeah, right. Do you get to go to New York very often. Does your work take you there? Or?

Yes, it's not as easy a commute as I would I would like it anyway. But I have gotten to work in New York often because it is it is the center, you know, of all musical things and theatrical things here.

Yeah. So on that. So you're a conductor, a musician, yourself, you play the piano. Sorry. Can you share with us starting off with sort of how you got into what you've done with your life over the last how many years?

Many years? Well, I, you know, I started playing at a very young age, I was five when I started playing piano, and was involved in a variety of musical things. I played the trumpet, in a band assigned choirs. We went to the theater, or we went to concerts. So there was, even though my parents were not musical, we were exposed to a great deal of music and the arts. I went to a sort of an academic high school that had a terrific choir. And so I latched into that as well as a good band. And going through the thought of going to music to study to be a teacher, be a music teacher. I had the experience of so many great music teachers, both in elementary school music, elementary school and high school, that I thought it was a worthy thing to do. And so I went to a small little suburban liberal arts school in New York State, got a degree in music, education, but also did a lot of playing. I had also learning Oregon, as at a young age and played in churches, and realized that, you know, the teaching piece was really important to me, but the music piece was was equally important. And so I tried to pursue both I got out of undergraduate school, took a few years off, and then decided I was going to get my Master's in piano performance at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. And so at that point, I was kind of on the track that I wanted to be a full time performer. But there was a part of me that just couldn't accept, sitting in a practice room says for six to seven hours by yourself, I love a making music with other people, especially singers. But I also really love the classroom as well. And so I finished my masters and rather than hit the road and play, I got a teaching job and tried to maintain both professions. Good. So for many, many, many, many years, it was tough to do. You know, one of the things I think that I loved about teaching was that it really grounds zoo, you know, Monday morning comes in, the students come into your room, they don't care what performance you had on the weekend, or how great you were, they could care less. I enjoyed that the fact that I could go out and you know, and freelance and do what I thought were wonderful things but in the morning, I had to, I had to prove it to my students. They didn't want to hear about my exploits. Yeah. And so you know, maintaining a practice schedule while your your full time teaching, then apparent, you know, is is challenging. But, you know, I tried to do the best I could with it. And I have no complaints about the choices I make. I made your my life. I retired from the teaching bit I taught at a number of public secondary schools. The last one, a very, very good one in New York Scarsdale High School. And I also taught for 15 years as a was the choral director at a small liberal arts music school also in the New York metropolitan area. Because choral and vocal was also very, very big. And I love working with words. I love working with singers. And I retired and I ended up freelancing before this pandemic hit. And then what changes again?

Oh, yeah, we could have a whole nother conversation about life. I've had enough I was really interested to speak to you because when I saw that you conducted not just orchestras, but also vocal groups and inquires, I spent probably 20 years of my life, singing in vocal groups and choirs, and I just absolutely loved, loved it so much. I learned so much from it. And I thought, I haven't spoken to another conductor. I don't think ever, I mean, the conductor that conducted me for all that time. And I just thought it'd be really nice. As part of this podcast to indulge myself a little bit. Game. I can do it, Carla. Yeah, so yeah, I spent years singing like that time, like Kirby Shaw was really big on these sorts of arrangements and was just a great time we saying we're all female. So we're SSA or SSI. And I was I'm an alto or second outro. And I used to just add, and I just love that feeling of blending and changing your tone to suit people around you and listening at the same time as singing. It just taught me so much about working with other people and a no compromise. You know, it's not all about me, I'm not a soloist, here, it's, we're all working together.

The choral thing is just, it's an amazing bit of humanity. And I, for one, when you mentioned, you know, SSA or s a women's groups, I one of my favorite activities was to conduct women's groups. Yes, I almost felt like they invited me into their little thing. But the bonding that goes in a women's group and a sound as you say that you know, how you you really have to change a little bit of your, of your your thought process. But when it happens, the energy in a women's group is unlike any performing group I that I know of. And I, I love that I'm probably missed that the most about not conducting is conducting women's groups. But yeah, what you say is, so it's so true about choral groups. And I think when a conductor is savvy enough to to know that it's not really just about the music, but it's also about the people, because the force of the group shouldn't necessarily come from the podium, it should come from within. And if you can create that sort of atmosphere where they were the singers feeling engaged, and part of this, that they're not just being lectured. It's a it's just an amazing feeling. I missed that I miss choral groups.

For sure. Yeah. Yeah, the buzz that you get, like, we were, like, I'm in my 40s. Now. So I started singing in that group when I was probably 14. And we always used to look around at each other. And just, we were just these individual kids and teenagers. And as we grew up, we kept saying, how do we sound so good? Because we'd look at each other and think, Well, we're not like that good. You know what I mean, as individuals, but then when we'd sing together, it would just be this amazing sound. And we just think, I don't know, it, just it the collective, you know, we'd just have this amazing energy and, and it was it was like you say, like a sort of a, it was a humbling experience, I think to realize that there was things you could achieve that were greater than yourself and greater than your own ego, I suppose. Yeah, it was just when I look back on it. Now, I don't think I realized at the time, how fortunate I was to have that experience and for such a long time with the same roughly the same group of people. Yeah, it was fun.

The bond, that amount of bonding that happens in those groups, it's just amazing. It's like, you know, it doesn't happen in an all males group. And it doesn't, it certainly doesn't happen in a mixed group. There is some bonding and a mixed group, but it just for some reason, women are much more able and capable of loosening some of the garbage that's around all of us. And I you know, I knew I could never I could never get really that close to it because of who I am. But it just was awesome to be around and the way they treated each other though. They backed each other, you know, and and it reflects in the sound. That's why this the sum of its parts is more important than the individual.

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It's the perfect description, actually. Yeah. Yeah, it's funny, he's just us, he said that it just reminded me of this moment, when we were recording, we recorded a couple of albums. Back in the 90s, this is going back. And we had to travel to Adelaide to record it, because our little town doesn't have any sort of capacity for recording how many people in one room at one time, and we were doing this particular song I can't make I think it was called Johnny has gone for a soldier, it's that was like, Oh, amazing, amazing song. And the soloist was having a bit of trouble, because she had to record it live while we're all recording. And so she was having a bit of trouble. I can't remember what parts or whatever. And our conductor took us aside and he said, we have to, we have to keep doing this. And I've done it a few times. But we have to keep doing it for Rene. And he basically gave us a choice. He said, we can go home now because it's the end of the day, and we come back and get it done the next day and stay an extra day. Well, we can stay here tonight, we can get it done. And we can you know, get Rene solo through and and we will get a we're gonna do it. We're gonna stay here now and get it done. And, you know, like that just support get behind each other. You know, it was just, and we wanted it to be good for her. We wanted her to have that experience as well and achieve what she wanted to, I suppose as the soloist because, you know, it's it's important when you get a solo to do it justice for yourself, you know how you want to present it. So I could totally relate to that. And that's interesting to hear that in your experience that it's not something that happens with with the men's group in the mix so. Hey, sorry, I've got a visit I forgot to say that. I'd say sorry. No, no,

no, no, no, I, I had to. I had to in some of the some of the things they pulled

me in concerts. Oh, yeah, my little one decided once she was going to mimic me conducting from the audience. I think she was better. That would have been lots of laughs

people around, it would have enjoyed it. But did you? Did you start to realize at the time what was happening that she was doing that?

Yeah, it was right behind me. You know, because we were both my wife was playing and I was conducting. Yeah, just school concert. So it wasn't, you know, it's not Carnegie Hall. But we had put them in a seat because we were sort of in the pit area. And we put them in seats right behind us. So that, you know, they wouldn't wander and they wouldn't, you know, be by themselves. And so, because we're both occupied, you know, here, I'm doing these grand gestures. And all of a sudden, I noticed that there's a mirror behind me doing. And the audience is laughing.

Oh, that's so special. Isn't it? Like, Oh, I love that. That isn't? Well,

I mean, you're, you know, the title. Or at least the you know, the title of the of your podcast is having to do dealing with family and being a musician. And that's a, that's a tough lift. You know, it is a tough lift. But when, when you have a moment like that, you know, then you realize that, you know, how special it is for also for the for the children, you know, my children's still sort of involved in music. So,

yeah, it's sort of validating, I suppose, then you realize that they see what you're doing, like, there. And in a way, they're probably so proud of you. That's probably not the words a child would use. But, you know, to mimic you to copy what you're doing. You know, that's where they say flattery is the what's the word? Something's the biggest form of flattery. I can't actually, it's too late. You know what I mean? Like she or he, I'm sorry, what if, like, there was so. So wrapping what you were doing so? Yeah, I think that's a lovely story.

I have two daughters. One is 34. And the other is third, the 231 311 lives in Northern New York State almost by the Canadian border, the city of Rochester. She, she's an opera director. And she does a freelancing and works as an adjunct in some schools. And the other is getting her master's in information in library sciences in New York. And she lives in Brooklyn.

Yeah, right. Yeah, opera. That's that's a whole new world, isn't it? That's like, compared to the car. Well, like, it's different isn't?

It? Isn't it isn't? You know, I, opera is a big piece of my, my background. And frankly, I got into opera as a young person and musical theater before I got into choral music. But, you know, I mean, some of the core, some of the opera choruses are amazing piece of choral work. And you're also dealing with languages, you know, you're dealing with subtexts. In some cases, you know, classic stories. I know, perhaps, maybe people think that opera is passe. I don't I mean, what's happening? I don't know what's happening there. But what's happening here is a massive revolution in librettos, and people writing operas, and not just regurgitating the same 25 year a year, but it's, I love it. You know, it's a combination really of great orchestral music, great choral music and great solo music, and theater.

What more could you have? Yeah, that's it, it takes so many books, this doesn't,

does and then this band is ballet. And some of them

I actually had, the episode I released just this week was with a dancer from the Australian ballet. And I, I recorded with her for almost three hours, because I couldn't stop talking about the music. And thank goodness, she was kind enough to indulge me but I was just like, I don't know, that obviously, as a musician, I'm so enthralled by that part of of ballet. And I just find that just the whole world of ballet is a mystery. So it was lovely to be here to share a lot of these behind the scene things we all think it's a bit like that Black Swan movie, but she showed me that it's not all like that some parts of it.

Those they had a hard they really have a hard because they have to make it early. Young. And, and I think the physical, there's a physical toll and music as well. But the physical toll on on dancers is really intense. So I think they haven't my Google,

oh, the way she was describing what they do how like the days, they're doing there might be rehearsing one day and then performing that night, but they'll be doing perhaps they're not rehearsing the show they're doing that night anymore. They're learning the next one. And it's just like, not only would your brain be spinning, but your body is just under the pump, you know, sometimes six or seven days a week. And like when I was talking to us, I was trying not to be sound too daunted. But I was like, This sounds exhausting. Like how do you guys actually do it? Like, you know, and then to fit in having a family as well? Like, how how do you physically manage it all? It's just such a know, a really challenging world.

Yeah. I think I think Broadway actors are similar in that, you know, I I know a few and I had a few former students and their lives aren't just it's not the rock star stuff that you think it is that we all think that media thinks it is? Yeah, no, they're working eight nights a week. They can't really take time off because you don't know if a show is going to close. They're worried about what the next show comes. There's the physicality of it they they actually have misuses and people backstage to deal with them when they were there elements. It doesn't exactly sound Like, you know, rock star movie star kind of thing we are,

it's, it's such hard work and that and it makes you appreciate it, when you see it, you think of, if you can, if you have an appreciation of what they've been through, to be able to bring you what you're watching, just, you know, have such respect for these people and the work that they've done, and continue to do so.

So you mentioned before that your wife is also a musician, what does what does she play? What'd she do?

She, she was a pianist, also. And a choral director, she actually called her up to the schools. Most her age group was mostly here in the US grades six through eight. And sometimes a little younger. And so, you know, we, in one way, we had a one where you sort of had an advantage because we were both on a school schedule, which helps in bringing up children in another way. A disadvantage is that December, May in June, you know, like, some similarity was always out at night. And so, you know, trying to figure out who's picking the kids up who's getting dinner, who's that sort of thing, but she you know, I don't think she had I can say this, we, we've been married with a beetle before you for two years in May. But we shouldn't have that kind of burning passion to really want to play by herself. She was very comfortable and love the classroom and loved the whole element of the classroom. And she was coral. Like I said that and she was a really good teacher, she retired also, this is her first year of retirement. You know, she kind of bridged a little bit into that sort of that pandemic teaching and decided that this is not really what I signed up for Yeah, but so we did share a lot of music and a house I mean, there was always music in the house somebody was always playing and although we tried not to force our kids to be in music it you know just sort of happened

sometimes you just can't help but if you if you're surrounded by it it's it just gets into you doesn't

know you feel the need to go up and conduct

is that that daughter that that imitated us that the daughter that is the opera director?

No Actually no, no she she was the younger she's the younger daughter and she was very as a child growing up how can I say spicy monkey still is a little bit she played actually she played the viola through school and was quite good but again did not have that you know there's there's a certain there's a certain amount of mania and I might even say sickness that you need to have to, to kind of keep that thing going and neither girls although they love music, and they were quite good at it, they just didn't have that to go to go beyond that which is just fine. You know, it's not but no, she never. She played a few decent orchestras and you know, we used to play together sometimes I would accompany her if she asked me but no, never took up the baton except for that one time. Maybe she read the critics loved it. That story. That is a really good story.

Hello so in that, but you've, your wife and yourself are sort of juggling the parenting role and trying to do your music was that I had an I had a weird it, was it ever sort of uh, was it? Was it hard to sort of juggle who was going to get to do certain things? Were there ever sort of clashes where it was like, we don't both try to do the same thing like that, that that experience where you had to take the girls with it? Was there a lot of that sort of stuff where you're both having to be out and bringing the children with you?

I would say there was a little angst on on who's you know? And if, but I, I could, we were very good to each other and that we communicated, you know, and we knew what what needed to be done. So like, if I was doing a show, that pretty much meant, like for the last 10 days I was done. And if she was doing a show was the same thing? No, like there's any, you know, he might say chase you. But with the with the onset of digital calendars. makes things a lot easier, because now all of a sudden, everything is like in front of you. And everything has is in front of me and vice versa. Well, we didn't have that when, when our daughters were growing up, but it helped being in a school schedule, for sure. You know, they were it would sometimes be is if I had extra stuff if I was doing extra freelance things on the weekends or sometimes. You know, I did a few festivals over this festival over the summer, which took me away for a bunch of time. There were maybe there was a little friction there. But I don't you know, I think with some of that. And I know what you're driving at with the question, I think is that, you know, like sometimes well, it is, you know, somebody, somebody gives up a portion of their thing for the house, household, and the other person does it. And in a sense, I kind of did that. But not really because I still was teaching my main focus was teaching and playing in church. And my wife's focus was teaching, completely teaching. So it's not like anybody. Anybody asked somebody else to do something extraordinary. So that you could make it big at the Metropolitan Opera.

Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

I know, people were who have have had to do that. And you know, that causes great tension, and sometimes they can split up for that. But we did not have to deal with that. And I think that's part of, again, going back to our original set, the grounding that teaching gives you really negates some of that.

Yeah, yeah, no, thank you for indulging that question that sort of, you know, I'm appreciative of your giving me your time as, as the man in the relationship to how you deal with that, and how that makes you feel, you know, what I mean? It's like, I think on my show, we do talk a lot about how women try to cope, you know, sometimes in a man's world and depending on what sort of art circle they might be in. So I find it I just, you know, in a kind and respectful way to hear what the other side has to say, You know what I mean?

Yeah, no, I, you know, and I think, I think one of the problems is that there isn't enough dialogue about that. It's something that really people don't think about when when they do get married or when they have children. Is that okay? And perhaps, perhaps, it certainly is better than what it was when I was growing up where, you know, there were, there were definitely roles carved out. You know, my father went out to work, my mother stayed home, she didn't go out to work sometimes. But the one thing I did learn from my father, because he worked in a restaurant business he cooked. And so to me, that was never something that was, well, you know, I don't want to I don't want to do that. As matter of fact that that in some ways for me, if I'm going to the market and buying stuff, and cooking it, that's a real release valve. I mean, I actually really enjoy doing that. Yeah. And so I think that the problems occur when you don't communicate and I think there are certain things that I know my wife does that other people might think are so called manly things to do. Because I don't like doing them, and I'm not very good at them. The things that I do that might some people might say, are not manly kinds of things. And I don't care.

I also think that a lot of those those, those, those boundaries are changing, they certainly change, you know? And who know who would not want to be involved with rearing your children being around your children? I mean, I can't imagine why you'd want to, why would you have them anyway. So that's somebody that you used to look forward to when, when, when they were young, I do this once by accident. And I would take a day off from school in December after my concerts were done. I pull them out of school. And I take him to Manhattan. And the first my wife was out doing a concert and I was home with the girls got Chinese takeout or prices to carry out and decided to rent the film Breakfast at Tiffany's, which they've never seen before. And so they allow, I was glad that they fell in love with I hadn't seen it since I was a kid. So they wanted to go have Breakfast at Tiffany's. I took the day off, we went into Manhattan. We sent the student for a Tiffany's with a bagel or whatever it was, and then went to the tree. And it just it was such an amazing day that I ended up doing that for maybe four or five years after that, not necessarily going to Tiffany's but other parts of Manhattan at the time with the two of them. And I wouldn't trade that for the world.

Yeah. Yeah. And I bet they remember those, like really special memories, too. It's part of their childhood. Yeah, they do, actually. Yeah, that's lovely. But I think you're right, though. It's like the gender stereotypes, the gender roles are being challenged, which is awesome. I don't think I could have had this conversation. You know, in my dad zero, that would have just been What are you talking about? Like, why is why is this even a question? This is, this is not what happens. You know what I mean? It's just things are changing in that that's awesome for everybody. Because that's the thing, like, just because, like I spoke to a dad for this podcast last year for the Father's Day episode, and he said this, because I'm the dad, why was it assumed that I'm the one that has to leave the house and go to work? Why can't I be the one that stays with my children? Because I love my children? Why would I want to stay with my children? So you know, everyone's the mind shift. The mindset is shifting with every generation and which is awesome. Like, it's really good.

Yeah, I almost wish it was shipped a little faster here in the United States. Yeah, yes, things not shipped so fast. As I'm sure you can see.

You're listening to the art of being a mom with my mom, I was. So you talk about communication being really important. Did you at that time, when you were thinking about starting your family? Was that a discussion that your wife and yourself had? How's this going to work with our careers? And what we want to keep trying to do musically? Was that? Was that something that happened then?

No. We, we were married for seven years before we had our first born and how grant time flitting around going into the city going to Europe. I I loved our lifestyle. I really didn't want it to change. And but I knew having a child was was really important in my life. And I'm not sure if it was that important to me. And I kept I wouldn't say resist, but you know, you know, the usual and we don't have my mind. We don't house you know, that sort of thing. And then finally, I would that's part that's part I assume has to be part of the package. So I didn't want to go back on my word. I was frightened. Frankly, to be really honest. I thought that my entire life would change completely. Um, and I remember, you know, both girls were C sections and my wife was in a hospital, the first one. I remember, she was in hospital and I came home from visiting. And I was by myself and I remember sitting with a very large glass of wine. Watching. It was a European cable channel that used to we used to be able to get that doesn't exist, I don't think it exists. And we're watching the Mozart Piano Concerto in D minor. And thinking, you know, I'll never play that. You know, I'm sure most of it was just the exhaustion. shock of it. But, you know, I woke up the next day, went back to the hospital, you know, and I was the first one to actually hold her, you know, she was a little thing, you know, and and that whole thought process at that point, it didn't matter anymore. You know, I, but I also to remember playing a recital, like the week after, or like 10 days after being absolutely exhausted. And that's basically that what I realized that my life was going to be as it was just going to, it wasn't going to be that sort of picture. Perfect. I can go and do a gig someplace, and I'm prepared and I'm rested. I'm fired up. It says, basically, let me stay awake long enough to finish it and then go home and crash. Yeah, yeah. But, you know, when I realized that my life would not change much. I mean, it does change, of course, you know, it has to change. But when it would not change, or at least what I felt was important I like she was she was an infant. And I remember watching a broadcast of a live broadcast from, I guess, the Metropolitan Opera of Mozart's Magic Flute. And Emily was on the floor with me just before bed, and it got to the point where the Queen of the Night sings this array up, up, up, up, up, up, up up a Berber put her bed, I finished watching the thing, the next morning, the next day after school, I come home and she's kind of like trying to sing it. So I went out and got a boombox. I bought the highlights CD of The Magic Flute. And now I realize she has she has the disease. Oh, one. Yeah, and they've always been, you know, we've schlepped them to so many different not only school performances, but also stuff that we aren't being close to Manhattan to New York. They've seen a lot of stuff so but you know, I think at that point, I realized that you know, this these two things can commingle?

I was going to ask you, as you were talking about that was you realize that you didn't have to give up one thing to have the other it's that your music and your child, your children could actually, like you said coexist, that would have been a really relieving moment, I would have thought that you sort of would have thought I'm not going to lose it or I'm not going to have to, you know, give up something.

No, no, yeah, it was, you know, the, the what it did impress upon me is that I was going to have to work harder to maintain it. Yeah. And sometimes I couldn't maintain it the way I would want to, you know, like I couldn't get to a piano to practice or I couldn't I had to turn down something. But I would have to be it would be more on my shoulders to try to balance those two things like not practicing when they're asleep and those kinds of things. I can see how it would have been a very difficult set have choices for somebody else to make. But once I saw them, as you know, once I saw them, that was not a difficult choice anymore, you know, as much as I love music they don't take that doesn't take the place of my children, you know?

Yeah, and I think that's something that everyone's afraid of when, when you, you, you sort of presented with this prospect of having a child and your life completely changing, you have this fear of, what's my life gonna look like? Off you go? Go on, go see that place. You'll be asleep when I come out.

That just proves it doesn't it? Just proves it. It's just an you know, sort of, I just have to go go with the flow of it all. Because in the end, to me, it doesn't matter. Yeah, he's what matters. Yeah. You know, whether I have to wait 10 minutes or not, that doesn't matter, you know, and if it doesn't, and if it did matter, then then I'm an idiot, you know, because that was more important at that, at that point, and balancing all of that, bravo, you know, that's gonna be hard for what you're doing. Because you're in your house. It's not like you can go someplace else. It is,

it is challenging. But the thing that I like to remind myself is that he does have to be parents, and there's a time and place for each parent to have what they need. Because I think it's really important for you to be filled up yourself, have your cup filled up, especially if you, you know, if I think you have to be nurtured yourself before you can nurture someone else, I think it's really important to do that, and that's why I've never stopped singing never stopped creating, through having both kids through both pregnancies. It's like, I think it's just a part of who you are. And that identity doesn't change just because you become a parent, is that part of your life's not going to just, you know, go up in smoke, you're all of a sudden not going to be a creative person, just because you're a parent, you know?

Yeah. And that certainly is not, you know, your parents or my parents reality, they had to give up things that they may have wanted to do. I feel bad for that. You know that that was the case then. But it's not now.

Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's also what makes creative people also want to do stuff because they, it's almost I don't want to say they want to prove a point that it can be done. But it's like, you've seen how, perhaps your parent your parents gave up stuff that they wanted to do. And maybe that doesn't feel right for you, you don't. And because society's changed, you have those opportunities, so you're going to take them I suppose that's I guess that's a way of trying to describe it.

Again, not to delve into the into politics, but I think one of the things that's, that's difficult here in United States is that we don't have daycare. Daycare is all private. And so, you know, there is no infrastructure for we were fortunate that we we made enough money for both of us to go out working and somebody who's watching the children, and then when they went to school, somebody wouldn't, you know, but I remember moving into this house now, where we were, the biggest issue wasn't whether we can afford this was whether we're going to be able to find daycare that was appropriate for both girls. And that that piece I think, helps to be able to share the responsibility and for people to be able to say, okay, I can keep a piece of myself and still be a parent and etc. But I feel so awful, you know, even it was highlighted here, certainly during the pandemic when daycare centers were shut down, and people who really need that, you know, the working class or the poor, have to sacrifice going to work with having their kids at home. And again, I don't want to know, I actually I don't mind delving in politics because I'm old enough to have seen the world spin a few times. And my only hope for this country, you know, we label everything is to make it easier for people to have families and to go to work and to have their dreams, then we can we could have that all.

Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? Like a lot of it comes down to circumstance, like you can have all the dreams in the world. But if you physically cannot do it, for whatever constraint that said, it has to has to stop, doesn't it? Yeah, I actually, I spent nine years working in childcare here in Australia. And I'd recently just resigned from that job a couple of weeks ago. And they desperately we need an overhaul here desperately. The same thing during COVID, we didn't get shut down. But the the limitations put on access to childcare were greatly changed. So if only if you were an essential worker, you were allowed to use childcare. So basically deciding whose job was important enough to be able to have childcare, which I thought was pretty ordinary, and a lot of parents obviously, were not happy with that they would ring us and say, Well, why isn't my job important enough? Who decides? You know, the government's decided, but obviously, the sentence the person who answers the phone is the one who's copying that question. And that's not a question they can answer. But that's how people feel. And I can understand that I don't think it's it's not a fair thing to put on people to decide. You're whether you're important enough in in this community in our country, or not, it was just a bit of a mess, to be honest, but

Well, yeah, you know, there's an issue here too, about how birth rates are going down. Well, if people are worried about having children, because they can't work. Of course, birth rates are gonna go down. Well, you know, I but yeah,

there's a whole thing that just reminded me I listen to a lot of BBC Radio. And they were having a big thing on there the other month about China, how they're now wanting people to have three children. And they were saying, well, there's no infrastructure set up for mums to return to work, there's no childcare, there's, you know, they don't have like nannies system, like it's not a thing over there. So how can you expect people to return to work if you don't give them the, the tools to be able to do it? It's all well and good saying have three kids, it's like, well, hang on a sec, I actually still want to work or need to work. Yeah, it's

the also piggyback on your, you know, the point of our conversation, is that that's, that's a huge, a huge, huge issue for people who are in the arts, about having family, you know, and also, you know, if somebody's a freelancer, or, you know, let's say they're fortunate enough to have one of the big jobs, you know, orchestra, full time orchestra or health benefits, the whole thing. Those things happen, like you're a ballet dancer, they rehearse during the afternoon in the morning, and they play at night. And usually they stay in the same hall all day long. So somebody's got to be home. Or there has to be some some accommodation for Where do the kids go? Yeah. That's only if you're you're fortunate to be married to somebody who has that kind of a position. But most of the musicians I know, they're all you know, they're either office temping someplace, and they're they're running out to do gigs at night and taking whatever comes along. And it is certainly a lot harder for them than it ever was for us to to try to bring a family.

There's this whole the gig economy, we call over here, people who are freelancers and, and that kind of stuff that they they suffered hugely through the pandemic, because they didn't get the support from the government that other people did, too. So that was a whole nother sort of cultural division of why why is some people worthy of receiving money from the government and some people aren't and the arts just suffered so much. And that's something that I think half the reason why, hopefully, we'll have a change of government because people have realized that the sports kept going and the sports were supported, and that there was all sorts of allowances made for them to travel through interstate to keep playing their football and whatever else they were playing, but the arts just stopped. And even at a local level, there was no support, so I don't I don't that frustrates me. But anyway, we've got an election coming so we can do something about you. Know, I think it's endemic in Australian culture that that of Sport comes first sport. So the bail and endo and the arts are the poor cousin. Unfortunately. But anyway, here too. Yeah.

Well, we are here just even on the school's bounce, we're screaming about how their kids games were canceled and you know, the colleges wouldn't come and see them kids play and they wouldn't get into college and scholarships and and so they ended up allowing indoor games like basketball when you couldn't sing in a in a you know, you couldn't have a choir. Yeah. What's the difference?

Yeah, that singing that singing thing really got us over here as well. That was just really? Yeah, it's hard. You'd have 40,000 people sitting in a stadium watching a football match, but you couldn't gather together in a room and sing together? Come on just the Yeah. Very frustrating. But anyway, hopefully that all that stuff's behind us now and when to get something else.

The next variant?

Yeah, oh good. Coming back to you as a conductor, I wanted to ask and I haven't I haven't asked you this previously. So I'm going to put you completely on the spot. So if you like to move on to something else and come back to this in a minute, that's fine. I wanted to ask you, what's your favorite piece to conduct? And why? Is it two out of a question?

Well, it here here's my usual stock answer when people say to me, what's your favorite composer? Or what's your favorite piece of music? It's like saying, What's your favorite food? There's sometimes I like a plate of pasta. Or sometimes I like a beautiful piece of grilled fish. And there are some times that I might even like pizza. I don't really have it's like, there's a line from this show Oklahoma. When Wilbur Parker asks Adel, Annie, well, which guy do you like better? And she says, whichever one I'm with, I try in conducting and playing. To find even if it's something that I don't may not connect with initially. I tried to find something in it, that I can get my hook into it, and then expand out example, I resisted working learning conducting Carmina Burana for years and years years. I just felt like it just you know, it just seemed like some raucous pieces, you know. And then, this was my college position. They, they hired a new president, who was of German descent. And he decided he wanted the choir to sing a few movements of Carmina Burana at his installation. Interesting choice, I would think, especially with some of that text. So I felt like I really couldn't say no. Even though I didn't have the kind of forces to put that together. So I sat and I studied it. I chose some movements. I managed to get money out of them to put it together. And I did it. And frankly, I enjoy the rehearsal, and I enjoyed the performance in it. So that's an example of something that I had absolutely no, and I knew I had, I should I should do it because everybody does it. I'm more of a lyricist. I mean, I love I love. I love great text. I love melody but I also love complexity. I would say Probably my favorite thing to conduct his BA. Because I love puzzles. Yeah, those kinds of musical puzzles. But there's something there's something tremendous about conducting Verity. There's something tremendous the one guy that that scares me. Let me be honest, but it's probably not gonna be broadcast United States a little matter. Beethoven, I know, people would say, Are you crazy? That's like the pinnacle. Beethoven, to me is so dense, and is one of those composers that I have to work really hard to get at the kernel of it. It just, it's not easy for me. It's not easy for me to play. It doesn't fit my hand well. And it just I look at the score and it's almost like I look in a language that I don't understand. I like to say I probably have enjoyed it. But it's not my desert island kind of fit. I mean, I love listening to it. And obviously his place in music is amazing. To me, Mozart, Mozart operas. Mozart symphonies. CalWORKs Wow. Poulenc Gloria is one of my favorite pieces. The Dorothy Requiem is another one of my favorite pieces. I've done the for a requiem a number of times also one of my my favorites. I've tried to get my try to get my wife to sign a piece of papers to tell me that you know that it should be sung at my funeral. Very carefully choose the soloist. Pas who is just a challenge, you know, first of all first soprano that's a hard question but I don't know if I answered it fully. I also love those you know those small tacos, you know, those Renaissance music. choral music to me is just it's a ethereal I love the big British stuff, the whole host of Vaughan Williams. And again, it's it's it's sort of what what I mean at the moment.

Oddly, Mozart, the Mozart Requiem is not one of my faves because it's not really Meltzer except for bits of it. I've done it I've enjoyed doing it. But it's not something that I would really doesn't have the same spot in my in my being as some of the French correlate works.

symphonic li DeVore Jack but I also like to conduct contemporary music too. And I find that to be interesting. I love playing contemporary music and for that very reason is that at least the way I work is

I look big first and then realize oh my god, how am I gonna redo this and then I go back and just sort of take things in small chunks. And with contemporary music there's there's no preconceived motion to fall on. You know, you can't go to a recording you can't go to you can't read about it. Especially if it's brand new. I played there's a in Hartford Connecticut there was there's a festival every November this first time I did it. It's called New New in November and they basically put on one act operas, chamber operas written for piano five or six of them in a setting and so I played one of them and it was fast it was it was based on the American young American composer from Austin, Texas, based on the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida. Very powerful and just so much fun at practice and dig into it, you know, this is trying to get and then once you finally get together with the other artists, it just it just it's like magic and so I really that I really enjoy something that has not been done before that I have to trust my own guile and research

Yeah, that's what I was gonna ask you actually, because I know as, you know, doing choral music, it's sort of up to the conductor to interpret it and to present it in the way that they see fit the way that they you know, the tempo, like there's always the guide to what to do. But someone might put a pause somewhere else for dramatic effect, or, you know, there's, there's room for your own added nuances, I guess. Is that something that you find exciting or daunting, then if you know, someone else has done it? Is it hard to put out of your mind? They didn't like that. But I wanted to do it like this? Or did? Does that make sense?

No, it makes great, it's a great question. For one, I'm a bit I'm a bit of a traditionalist, if it's not in the score, I am not going to muck around with the score much unless the big unless is, what can the group in front of me do? I am not a big believer on having this massive conceived idea of a work that they can't accomplish. So if it's a professional group, that's one thing, but if it's an amateur group, or it's a school group, or it's a church group, then what I do, I try to look at what the score demands in terms of sound. And if they can't do it with perhaps the way that somebody else might do it, like speed, I'll do it with articulation to create that same effect. But to me, it makes no sense to try to, to push a group to do something that you have, you know, basically an academic scholastic idea of what it should sound like, and they can't do it. Yeah, what's the sense? So, in terms of freely interpreting, I like to feel like I have some say on that. But mostly, my say on that, especially if it's a choral work has to do with punctuation, breathing, text issues, there's some composers who are very demanding in what they write, and there's others that have their own, like Vaughn Williams, or one I mean, he's, his, his writing has to sort of be interpreted because it's not, it doesn't really make any sense if you do exactly what he says. And I suspect it's because of the acoustic that he was writing for. That it was in a church and a very live acoustic. So sometimes things like the final ends of notes or phrases are kind of, you know, he puts a a quarter note with an eighth note that's tied to it, and a dot underneath that, which to me says, Get rid of the time, especially if you're in a dry acoustic.

Yeah, yeah.

So but I have a, I have a story that I I did the, the Verdi Requiem in Romania, about four years ago, four years ago. And quiet was quite good. soloists, we're all we're all professional, but you know, like most of these kinds of places, they're all sort of stuck, because you're not there for a long period of time. You basically float into the city, have a couple of piano rehearsals, a dress, you know, you meet the orchestra and then bang, off you go. So there's no time for me to pontificate I want I want there's a spot at the end of the very Requiem, where it is this huge crescendo and then it comes to subido piano. basically impossible to do with the way he wrote it. And it's in the middle of a word. So I scoured various recordings. And one of the recordings I got, which was a composer I conducted that was very influential in my, in my view of conducting was Robert Shaw. And I'm doing amazing pretty regularly. He actually took a little bit of a loose breath before that piano, the whole thing. And then the subido piano, perfect. So I thought it was good for Robert Shaw, if you could for me, right. Nan Romania

gave me an issue with it. She said. And I said, Well, you can you make this with the piano without

and it turned into this fight. So in the end, okay, it wasn't a subido piano wasn't a piano. But it wasn't worth fighting, because it just wasn't, you know. And so sometimes, you know, I think I probably if I had more time, I probably would have insisted, but

my Romanian is not very good. English and I don't think she spoke English very well anyway. But

that's the thing like you, you, you're challenging cultural norms that, and it's hard to break down those barriers or even question those barriers, certainly with a limited timeframe. But even at all, I guess, you know, there's 1000s of years of history, and that's what they do.

And also, it's also what the what the norm is, in that particular region. Yeah. Right. So, to go back to the very Requiem, I did have an extensive choral rehearsal. To few be subject to a few areas in a very right way. And, you know, being sort of a pianist, and organist, a Bach lover, I mean, I have a certain set way about views. And they sang both views. Like, that was almost anathema to me, you know, you couldn't hear subjects, it just was like this big mush and wash of sound. And my first thought was, okay, so how far I'm gonna go with this? I tried. They were terrific. They were so receptive. Actually, those two choruses were the best things in the entire performance. Because I, they allowed me to break the paradigm. Yeah. Yeah. And, and when they actually did it, it was just awesome. You know, so clean it was you could hear every entrance and everything was shaded, and, and they were a good choir to begin with. But that's the difference. And then they were the soprano was not used to that she was used to getting whatever she wanted. And so when she got it what you want, and so I think that the score, it's not a museum piece, you know, it's a guide. And if you have enough, I don't think you should sway far so far from the score that it deviates from what the composer intended. Because that I don't think is right. Yeah. So no, but to use the score, and then also to use your understanding and knowledge of what the pair the practice of the time was, what the idiosyncrasies of that particular composer was, if you know them, if it's a brand new thing, then you know, then you're going on, you're going on guesswork, sometimes you're lucky enough to have a composer there. And that's, that's a long winded way of answering your question about, you know, how do you how do you sort of attack a score like that, but I find it really daunting, but yet fascinating to get like a clean score and thinking, okay. Where are we going from here?

Yeah, no, thanks. I appreciate that. But I'm throwing some questions that you that you haven't had any morning over. So I appreciate

that. I'm a former teacher, I can dish it. Be surprising some of the questions would.

No, I love that. Yeah, actually talking about contemporary composers. I had a guest on my show a few weeks ago, Dr. Erica ball, I'm not sure if you've come across her work. She's based in the United States. And she is on this mission, I guess to because she teaches piano and violin as well, to teach her students that they can play music by people that are alive still. That's her thing that it's like women and people that are still alive. And then like, some of his students don't even realize that people are still writing classical music. They think it's all stuff by, you know, people who died hundreds of years ago. So that was a really fun conversation.

That's changing here. Mentally, yeah. And I think it's because composers are promoting their music better. I think festivals are promoting the music. And one of the one of the exciting things that I thought that happened during the pandemic here was, you know, because we were all, you know, sitting in front of our screens at home, it allowed us to sort of take some steps back and do a little research. And I was involved with a mezzo soprano friend of mine who wanted to put out a weekly A video of songs written by women composers who were not necessarily household names. And it was fast because we both researched this together. We rehearsed it using, you know, this thing here, which had its had its moments. But the fact that we, you know, we we did that I was, although I knew some names I some of the music is just a why is this buried? Why is nobody playing this? Yeah, yeah. And it's happening here. There's, there's concerts now. A great deal of concerts by African American female composer Florence Price, who wrote a tremendous that was an amazing pianist. Were big groups, symphonic groups. choral groups are starting to really dig in and not look at the same stuff that we've been playing for 300 year. That although some people do advocate that, I think that bringing this no music by living composers into the canon of what we do, is going to sustain classical music and not make it look like just some relic museum piece.

Yeah, that is so true. Yeah. Yeah, that's it, because it's like, it will just stay as something that doesn't evolve, it doesn't change, it isn't challenged. And eventually, it'll just, I don't know, might even get lost somewhere because it hasn't evolved. And I don't I, I think it's awesome. It's really, really good to keep it relevant as well for new audiences. And because I think this conversation I had with with Erica was that there is a portion of the audience that desperately wants to hear a song that they know, and they recognize that there's also the people that want to challenge that. So it's also that that generational shift, you know, that that will challenge your whole Hispanic that's been going

on for a long time. You know, and you mostly see it in, in orchestras, where they know that their donors, their big donors want to hear Mahler and Beethoven, Brahms, and will not will not stomach in certain places, certain cities are different, but it will not stomach an entire evening of something that they don't recognize or can't understand. Yep. So in the past, orchestras have sort of mixed the program a little bit, you know, they give the castor oil on the sugar. But that's also changing, you know, where, and they've been very smart about it, and using sometimes contemporary living composers who actually show up to these concerts, give a lecture on it. Explain it, because I think some some of that is education. Yeah. But I, it's starting to starting to veer off into the choral world and starting to veer off into the opera world. And I just in some ways, I had a conversation with a friend, we were talking about the pandemic, because let's face it, we all talked about pandemic, how they will would have been no Renaissance, if it wasn't for the Black Death. You know, I mean, the Black Death, the Renaissance was, was a direct cause of coming out of the Black Death as the, the, the pandemic of 1918, the roaring 20s was a direct cause of coming out of that in the First World War. And I maybe I'm an optimist. I am, too. But I think there's going to be a second renaissance in the arts for sure. Because, like you say, they've taken such a hit, and so they can't go back to the same way things were done before.

Yeah, I would agree with that. I hope and I hope that that it challenges the norms. of all cultures, but my own I really hope because the thing that frustrates me is that creators and artists make everything that you consume, you know, you wouldn't be able to sit at home and watching Netflix during the pandemic, if somebody hadn't come up with the story and the actors, you know, everybody that goes into making that stuff and everything you touch and like everything has been created by someone and made by someone who designed by someone, but we just seem to take it for granted. I suppose. Maybe that's maybe that's what it is. Then I

Yeah, yeah. Until it was denied. And yes, yeah, we could argue for granted until they shut theaters down until they shut everything else down. And you had you had a search for it someplace else. And some of the arts organizations were smart enough. My follow up and for one is that then they started releasing all of their HD videos for free. Yeah, right, every week, you know. And, again, thinking of the longer the longer game, and a longer game is to, is to keep this thing going.

Yeah, and perhaps not being precious about, you know, like that, that maybe giving up some income, maybe things used to have to be paid for in that way. But just because we've always done things a certain way, that doesn't mean we have to keep doing them a certain way, if we want to evolve and remain relevant and, you know, reach these audiences that are basically a candid audience. They're not doing anything else. So we pump them full of this stuff. And then they love it. And then they when they come out, they want to consume it even more.

I, I, we went to the opera. In September, the Mecca opened back, you know, opened back up again. And this, they decided to open their season with a new opera. And it was written by the book was written by a columnist for the New York Times, fire shut up in my bones. If you ever have an opportunity to see the HD video, that is amazing. But the thing that was really amazing is that when this show opened, and as I said, it opened the season, which is unheard of. It was packed. And the audience was unlike any audience I've ever seen at any classical concert, anywhere. In the world, it was just like, first of all, it was an it was an event. And the age differential was huge. The the social makeup was huge. And I've seen, I saw people that I've never thought I would see at the Metropolitan Opera and a place went and it was, besides the fact that it was an amazing performance. But I thought they were going to rip down the house at the end. It was just was incredible. And that shook me. It's because when a staid institution, like the Metropolitan Opera can have the guts to say things are different. We're going to change a little bit of a the conversation here, I think there's no reason why not everyone else can also do.

Yeah, that's incredible. Isn't it? Like the risk that they would take doing that, but the payoff has so many sort of flow on effects, not just for them, but for the how the culture of opera is now. You know, changing? Yeah. Incredible. The entire

company, the entire production team, what's African America?

Yeah. Yeah. And

the dancing on stage was something that was unlike anything you would have ever seen on the Met stage. And it was just amazing. The band, the orchestra was actually a full symphony orchestra with a band in the middle of it. Playing and the music also had jazz elements, you know, symphonic elements, all sorts of just a hodgepodge of great, great stuff. I just hope they do more. Never was more of a

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I love it. I sort of feel like ballet is really good at pushing the boundaries. I know the the Australian ballet here. You know, they've they've got to get the they get the balance right from the the shows that people want to say the sleeping beauties in the swan lakes and the nutcrackers. But then they get and they've been doing this for many years, getting the people we're gonna get people from Europe over to showcase to contemporary works and to push the boundaries of what people think ballet is. And I think I feel like ballet is really good at doing that. And yeah, the

I think dancers always been really good at that. Because the music is except for those those chestnuts. The music can be anything you want it to be. Yeah. Yeah. You know, and, and the style could be anything you really you really want it to be there's you're not really. I mean, the people have tried to pry loose a little bit of, you know, our conceived notions of what Nutcracker and Swan Lake should look like. But for the most part, if you do a contemporary thing, you're not under any constraints to do anything except what that work demands. Yes, they I think they've been good with that. And I think belly audiences are much more receptive To that, even though, you know, I frankly used to hate going to the ballet we call them the white glove crowd here. And so you'd sit in the audience and all of a sudden they take out these little bond bonds with the rappers it's like the most sublime piece of music and the oh here. And it would take forever for that thing to get in that woman's mouth. And it was just like, irregardless of what was going on. Yeah, just so I was never a great fan of the audiences of our ballets but for sure.

We have this concept of mum guilt that I talked to my guests about and I love I love to eat sounds bad rice, I love talking to people about their guilt. But I find it really fascinating because everybody has different experiences, everyone might deal with it differently. Some people don't feel it, some people feel it a lot. And I like to when I get the chance to talk about how men feel about that. Because your say your a man's role generally is perceived as different to the woman. So it is expected that you might you know, you leave the home and do what you got to do and that sort of thing. Do you? What's your take on? I guess? I don't want to call it dad guilt because I don't. I don't even like calling it mum guilt. But I call it that just for the hashtag mum guilt, you know? What's your thoughts about all that sort of stuff?

I'm not sure I know what you mean by it. Okay.

So the way that we talk about mum guilt is that when your mom, you're supposed to do stuff for the children. And then if you do something for yourself, you should feel guilty about that. Or if you don't meet the norms of what society deems as being an I'll put in air quotes, again, a good mother, you should feel guilty for that. An example that I can give you is a guest I had on the show, went out one night to watch a classical music performance. And she was there with their friends. And one of the people she met said, Oh, it's such a shame you're missing bedtime. You know, it's good that you could come tonight, but you're missing putting the kids to bed and she's like, why is that a question? Why are you asking me about bedtime? I shouldn't say this to the person. But you know, my child has two parents that my husband is quite capable of putting the children to bed. And I'm quite capable of leaving the house and doing certainly for myself.

It does. I guess I can and I probably shouldn't answer for my wife. But I but you know, certainly when we've been out and I have to admit that we did not go out much without them. Okay, that was our choice. We took them to everything, including restaurants. And some of it was because we just liked being around them. And I don't think it was guilt. I just think you know, I could probably count on one hand. Firstly, babysitters rarely had a babysitter. Now, when one of us had to do something or went out? I would say that maybe Celia would feel a little, you know, like a little bit. I shouldn't be home. But I'm sure it passed fast. Especially knowing that I was there. Yeah. If I wasn't there, then I would have been a different story. If it we were both out someplace for sure. Yeah. As far as I'm concerned. I don't know. Guilt is a strong word. You know, I might think about you know, where I what I was doing. And I have to say I'm not I wasn't the kind of guy when the girls were young that Did you know like went out with the boys and that kind of stuff. I didn't do that at all. I had no intention to do that. I'm perfectly fine staying home with the girls. But you know, I might think oh, okay, we'd be having dinner right now or the, you know, shower time in the bath time. Yeah. But I wouldn't call it good. Yeah, you know, might as you said, you know, like our, the generation of our parents, they had to give up stuff. And I'm sure that, you know, like, my mother never went out on our own. And my father who was in a restaurant business without every night working, and come home till two, three in the morning. So I wish they almost did some stuff for them, you know? But, you know, I almost I must wonder about that. And it just, it's sort of a foreign thing. I understand why people might think that it I, it's hard for me to kind of think, put myself in there. Because, for one, we took them everywhere. Yeah. And, you know, we, the first time they went to Europe, to see my family, and she's been other places. One of them was five years old, four years old. You know, like, I mean, those kids went when traveling more than most. We went to restaurants. And so they were very, very early age. And we just, we wanted, we love being around each other. And it wasn't like to be with her mom or sisters. I'm sure maybe she felt a little, but I'm sure it passed quickly when she was with her sisters or whoever. And I never felt that, you know, I mean, I I was out a lot. You know, I was a church musician. So I never felt that. Unless I was out for an extended period of time. Like when I would do summers in Rome. I was five, five weeks, six weeks. Yeah, I did. For sure. I did.

Because I knew all of it fell in unseal you know, and I wasn't there to sort of pick up the slack.

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, no, thank you for answering that. I know. It's, I feel, no, it's something that fascinates me. But again, I, I want to be respectful when I ask people about things like that, because, you know, it's a bit of a, you're asking people to tell, you know, really private things about themselves. So appreciate you indulging me. Well,

I think, I don't think there's anything wrong with that, because I think people who, who will listen to this should think there's, this is these are questions that, you know, are there and other people have coped with this before, and are coping with it now. It's not like a new thing. It's not. And, you know, like, with anything else, we, you know, like your, your story about feeling bad, because she's, you know, missing mum time. I mean, that that's something you put on yourself. That's not, that's not you create, you can create your own thing. You know, and I think in this in this age that we're in now, people respect when you create your own thing, and you're and you're strict with it, perhaps 40 years ago, no, you know, that question whether you are a good mother, if you were out, you know, but that, to me seems something that is more someone someone's demanding of themselves rather than it's coming from outside?

Yeah, I think I feel like social media has had this impact of, of showing us so many different elements of people's lives, that allows us to compare elements of our own lives with them. But I think what we have to remember is that what people place on social media is very curated, and they're generally only showing the best bits. And so it's like, the advent of social media has allowed more comparison. And I think allowed more people to question themselves. I don't know, am I doing it right? Or what are people going to think if I do this, or, you know, whereas I think sometimes it's better just to do what works for your family and in stay really insular in your thoughts and not think about what's happening. You know,

the last I checked, there was no manual. There's no degree on any of this. And, and there's no one way, you know, and so I, you know, we I think we all come into this thing with, obviously, what we were brought up with, knowing what worked and what didn't work, or what we want to imitate and what we certainly don't want to imitate. And then we go from there. And it's a partnership for one. It's not just one person deciding that. I know some families where it is all only one person and frankly, they're dysfunctional. And so, in some sense, you know, like to me bringing up children and also create a household idea is it's creative because it is based on the on the two of you. And it's also based on what, you know, your children's needs, etc. And there's no one way. I don't think there is no.

Oh, yeah, no, I definitely agree with that. definitely agree with that. If you've got anything, any projects coming up or anything you want to share about it might have in the works or anything at all? Really?

Yeah. It's a little slow for me getting back right now. Because the some of the things that I was involved with, are taking your time coming back. I've been I'm playing more, which is good. The conducting is coming a little slow. Right now, I was supposed to do conduct on Giovanni in Romania before this pandemic hit. And so I'm kind of like in a in a negotiation, trying to get that either in June or possibly in September. But I don't have any pressing things at the moment. In some ways, that's good. Well, my oldest daughter is getting married in October. And so that is pressing.

It's pretty important.

That is pressing. But in terms of artistic stuff. I don't I don't I don't think so. I am revisiting Don Giovanni, just in case I do call to do that in June, because it's a pretty big, pretty big work. I'd like to get that off on my back and off my off the table. But that's, yeah, I mean, that's, as of right now. My, my modus operandi is the, you know, when when the things come in, jump on them. I have no real plans. You know, I hope that some of the smaller theaters that I was working in, will start coming out, you know, the problem is, is that they were unwilling to commit to performance venues, because they weren't sure they're going to get closed again. Yeah. And, you know, the beauty is living an hour outside of New York, but also the problem is, is I'm an hour outside of New York. And so anybody in New York can gobble up whatever it is very quickly. Yeah. So but that's okay. You know, I stuff, things will come back, and perhaps things will come back that where I can go back picking and choosing what I want. I'm done with just grabbing anything that comes along, no matter how miserable it is. Yeah.

Yeah, you can do it because you want to do it and you're passionate about it.

Yeah, it's nice to take a step back a little bit, actually. And you know, to think a little bit more about all this and study a little bit more about all this and and then we'll see.

Oh, good on. Yeah. Thank you so much for, for being a part of this special Father's Day episode. I'm very, very grateful for your time and for your candor, and your honesty, and I've really enjoyed our chat. Thank you, John.

I enjoyed our tattoos. It was fun, and good luck to you and keep singing.

Thank you so much. Thanks for your company today. If you've enjoyed this episode, I'd love you to consider leaving us a review, following or subscribing to the podcast, or even sharing it with a friend who you think might be interested. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on the podcast. Please get in touch with us via the link in the show notes. I'll catch you again next week for another chat with an artistic mom

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