New York Voices Q&A
Can you tell us how the project started?
Damon Meader: This collaboration grew out of musical and personal friendships that had been cultivated for many years. The Guildhall staff went above and beyond to find ways to work through this very challenging school year and give their students unique opportunities.
We were quite honoured to be a part of their curriculum and were so pleased with the level of focus and dedication that all of the Guildhall students brought to the project.
How did you approach the project?
Kim Nazarian: Because we admire our friends and their talent so very much, we approached this project with care, and great anticipation. We've never really done a Virtual Residency before, so this was filled with excitement and a hope that the unknown would be filled with success!
Damon Meader: Under normal circumstances, our style of music tends to focus on the live performance arena, but the pandemic required us to all rethink how we could teach and “perform" this music. By concentrating on a recording experience, I think the students had a chance to focus on a different but equally important skill set. The fact that we were able to navigate this via online classes is a testament to the dedication that all participants brought to the project.
New York Voices looks forward to the day we can meet many of these students in person, but in the meantime, we are thrilled that we were able to interact with them from afar, and are very proud of the work they did.
How did you find the experience?
Kim Nazarian: The experience was probably one of the MOST professional college experiences I've ever had the pleasure in which to partake. The quality of the music, the preparation, the willingness and open mindedness of both your students and teachers made us feel incredibly welcome and comfortable.
What have you most enjoyed about working with Guildhall on this project?
Lauren Kinhan: The thing I really enjoyed about working with Guildhall was the trust and support they gave to their professors when they began to dream of a vibrant educational and interactive landscape for their students in the midst of a world crisis.
Artists are brilliant at thinking on their toes and Clare Wheeler and Kevin Fox are no exception! They worked tirelessly creating a beautiful artist in residence program by describing what they needed and then collaborated and devised a method of interplay with New York Voices that could work across the miles and would be deeply enriching for their students.
In times like these, everyone needs to pull together to make something vibrant for the students they serve, and the bonus is they also created work for the many touring artists that find themselves home. It was thrilling to present New York Voices’ repertoire and also learn new music that both Clare and Kevin arranged. Everyone did some deep learning and giving, and I think we all came away with a feeling of satisfaction and gratitude.
Kim Nazarian: I think I most enjoyed the musical lightbulbs that went off in both conductors' and students' heads. It's always amazing to share a new thought, concept, or process with someone, and have them "get it" instantly. I also enjoyed the high quality of the final mixes, they are ready to go public!
Peter Eldrige: As we all know perhaps a little too well at this point in a lingering pandemic, life (and music specifically) on Zoom can be arduous and take its toll on students and faculty alike. With every passing month it seemed to get more and more challenging to keep students invested and inspired.
Thankfully the students of Guildhall School, besides being wonderfully talented, were palpably enthusiastic and open to throwing some new ideas around in regards to songwriting, re-arranging classic jazz and pop tunes to fit their musical identity, improvisation, vocal technique and, last but certainly not least, group singing. With Clare Wheeler and Kevin Fox being the steady forces behind this entire endeavour the months of workshops and rehearsals felt like a community of like-minded musical souls working and growing together. I couldn’t help but have a feeling of immense pride to have been a part of something so special.