About me

Thomas Dunn (musician)

Thomas Dunn ~ Image via Wikipedia

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Thank you for taking an interest in getting to know a little more about me.

Contact:  gret49@hotmail.com
I was born in Springfield, IL, moved to Burlington, IA at age 2, and started piano lessons at age 6.  Organ study followed at the age of 12.
I have an extensive choral background as well, singing and playing in church, college, and professional choirs.
My first experience hearing a professional singer was in 7th grade. My father obtained tickets to “Messiah” @ Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. William Warfield was the bass soloist. We were maybe 20 rows from the front, with my seat directly back from him. He had the scary arias, of course. When he opened his mouth the first time that night, I had chills! I had never heard anyone sing straight from their soul before. He scared me to death.
I started college at Southern Illinois University/Carbondale. During my 2nd year, Thomas Dunn (then conductor of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society ~ see pic, above) visited the campus.  He took me aside after a rehearsal and asked if I had ever considered a career as a professional accompanist.  So, after trying majors in Western European History, Organ, and Voice, I finally settled on Piano.
Also during that year, there was a visiting Artist in Residence, a pianist. I studied with him on the side. The following year, he moved to UMass/Amherst, and invited me to transfer schools.
At UMass, I played for EVERYBODY’S student recitals.   A little later, Smith College had an opening for a staff accompanist, so I auditioned and was hired.  At the same time, I began commuting to NY for lessons with Martin Katz, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
After 2 years @ Smith, it looked like time to move on.  I auditioned for the vocal program @ Tanglewood as a coach, and was accepted. Great summer. And then, @ the last minute, 2 weeks before school opened, I applied to Westminster Choir College‘s masters program in Accompanying & Coaching, again w/Martin Katz, and was accepted.  It was GREAT to be there during the implementation of the program, trying out new ideas.
My experience at music festivals was invaluable.  First, I attended music camp at the University of Iowa for four summers.  In college, I won a scholarship to Aspen, followed by a fellowship to Tanglewood.  After that, I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the chamber music festival mentored by Joseph Fuchs at Alfred University in upstate New York.
Following 2 years in Princeton at Westminster, along with trips to NY every Wednesday and every weekend, as well as playing for the Philadelphia Singers, I moved to NY. During the time that I lived there, I toured the country as pianist for the Norman Luboff Choir (twice!).  I also founded Kairos, a piano trio, and the Rautenberg-Saathoff Duo (violin/piano).  Playing concerts in the metropolitan area was wonderful!  I made a list of those venues recently.  They total over 25 locations.  Yes, living in NY was stressful, but provided so many wonderful opportunities! Would I do it again? YES, in a second! (Just send the money.)
Being in New York allowed me to rehearse and/or perform with over seventy-five conductors, a long list of voice teachers, and many instrumentalists with world-wide reputations.  In addition, I played rehearsals and/or auditions for nearly every opera company you can think of:  The Met, New York City Opera, Queens, Bronx, and Brooklyn Operas, and Amato Opera.  Additional opera and competition auditions took place in CT, NJ, and PA.
Now I’m living in Amherst, MA, collaborating with the Hampshire College Chorus, the Amherst College Choirs, and the Valley Light Opera.  Additional organizations I have worked with are the Commonwealth Opera, the Pioneer Valley Symphony, the Majestic Theater in West Springfield and the MENC.  I perform solo concerts often, as well as collaborating with singers and instrumentalists, coaching, and teaching.
In January 2012, I accepted the Director of Music position at Christ United Methodist Church in Northampton, MA, which provides the opportunity to use all my skills to enhance the service with music.
We produced a successful series of four concerts in July called Rocky Hill Concerts.  These were the first concerts in this church’s history, and my first foray into the producing side of music.
As of the Fall of 2013, I have been the rehearsal pianist for the Illuminati Vocal Ensemble, an elite group directed by the extraordinary Tony Thornton.
As of January 2014, I will also be working as a pianist in the Vocal Studies Dept. at The Hartt School in CT.

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6 thoughts on “About me”

  1. Hi Gretchen. You left out the part where you lived in Mount Tom Junction. 🙂
    I hope to get a chance to hear you perform some day. My wife and I both enjoy concerts although we don’t get out at night much.
    Anyway, it’s nice to see how much you have done and accomplished since giving lessons way back when.

    Click on the sggphoto thing up there and you’ll see what I’ve been doing the last 30 odd years.

    Steve Gingold

  2. Steve! What a great surprise! How did you find me?

    I loved Mt. Tom. Don’t know what came over me to have left that out.

    Your photos are incredible. Thanks for the link. HOW many odd years???

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you left a comment.

    Gretchen

  3. Hi Gretchen.

    How did I find you? A few years ago, I found out about, but missed, a program you and your duo partner did in New Salem, so I knew you were in the area. Yesterday Mary Beth mentioned a program at the 1st Congregational in Amherst featuring, I think, 6 pianists and I asked her if you were one. Well, as you know, you are not. But that caused me to Google your name and that’s how I found your blog.
    Thanks for the kind words about my shots. We’ll leave the number of years unmentioned again.

    Steve

  4. Hi Steve,

    During the concert at First Congregational, I was coaching singers and playing for them in a recital at Hampshire College. It was unadvertised. I’ll have to speak to the PR person!

    Gretchen

  5. Hi Gretchen
    As you probably know, it’s a snow day. So I’m able to catch up on a few things.
    I’m sorry I didn’t know about the Hampshire College recital. I live very close to Hampshire. We probably could have come over.

    It would be nice to catch up a bit more, but feels awkward in a blog.
    If you’d like to exchange emails, you can click my name below any of the pages on my website…there’s a link on my blog… and I’ll get your email.

    Steve

  6. Thanks, Steve!

    I’ll let you know about the Hampshire College Chorus concert. It’s in May, I think… and about other events as they happen. I’d love to get together and catch up.

    Hope you don’t get snowed in. More is on the way!

    Gretchen