Humans aren’t capable of completely original ideas. Everything is borrowed.
This week, meet international star composer, Christopher Tin. In the choral world, we met Christopher with his blockbuster Baba Yetu, and has not slowed down since. He recently completed a project with Voces8 called “Lost Birds,” and has exciting projects coming up. In this conversation, we discuss the process of creating music for video games, versus concert performance, as well as our ideas of “cultural identity” and the way we blend cultures when music travels around the globe and through time. Christopher has a very cohesive way of describing this and how it formed his own “musical culture.” Tune in and expand your vocabulary!
Christopher Tin is a two-time Grammy-winning composer of concert and media music. Time Magazine calls his music ‘rousing’ and ‘anthemic’, while The Guardian calls it ‘joyful’ and ‘an intelligent meeting of melody and theme’. His music has been performed and premiered in many of the world’s most prestigious venues: Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Hollywood Bowl, the United Nations, and Carnegie Hall, where he had an entire concert devoted to his music. He has also been performed by ensembles diverse as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Metropole Orkest, and US Air Force Band.
His song “Baba Yetu”, originally written for the video game Civilization IV, is a modern choral standard, and the first piece of music written for a video game ever to win a Grammy Award. His debut album, the multi-lingual song cycle Calling All Dawns, won him a second Grammy in 2011 for Best Classical Crossover Album, and his follow-up release The Drop That Contained the Sea debuted at #1 on Billboard’s classical charts, and premiered to a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium. His third album To Shiver the Sky also debuted at #1, and was funded by a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign that raised $221,415, smashing all previous classical music crowdfunding records. His fourth album, The Lost Birds, is a collaboration with acclaimed British vocal ensemble VOCES8, and will be released September 2022 on Decca Classics.
Tin is signed to an exclusive record deal with Universal under their legendary Decca label, published by Concord and Boosey & Hawkes, and is a Yamaha artist. He works out of his own custom-built studio in Santa Monica, CA.
In the next edition of the Oxford Series, I am excited to bring you a new voice in their catalog, Brittney E. Boykin. I had an open and refreshing conversation with her about her journey through the choral world as a conductor, teacher and then composer. Navigating life in the choral world as a Black Woman, cultural sharing vs. appropriation, the sea-change that was 2020, work-life balance and more. “When I think of diversity within the classical music world, there is diversity within sound, within ensembles, within colors.” – BE Boykin
B.E. (Brittney Elizabeth) Boykin is a native of Alexandria, Virginia and comes from a musical family. At the age of 7, she began piano lessons and continued her studies through high school under the tutelage of Mrs. Alma Sanford. Mrs. Sanford guided her through various competitions, such as the NAACP’s ACT-SO competition where she garnered 1st place for 3 consecutive years in the local competition, as well as being awarded The Washington Post “Music and Dance Award” in the spring of 2007.”
Boykin then pursued her classical piano studies at Spelman College under the leadership of Dr. Rachel Chung. After graduating Spelman College in 2011 with a B.A. in Music, Boykin continued her studies at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey. During her time at Westminster, she was awarded the R and R Young Composition Prize just a few months shy of graduating with her M.M. in Sacred Music with a concentration in choral studies in May, 2013.
Boykin’s choral piece, “We Sing as One,” was commissioned to celebrate Spelman College’s 133rd Anniversary of its founding at the 2014 Founders Day Convocation. She has also been featured as the conductor/composer-in-residence for the 2017 Harry T. Burleigh Commemorative Spiritual Festival at Tennessee State University. Boykin has been commissioned and collaborated with several organizations, including a number of ACDA divisions, the Minnesota Opera and the Kennedy Center. She obtained her PhD from Georgia State University with an emphasis in Music Education and is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Last week I had the incredible honor to headline at CMEA in Colorado Springs. I was able to introduce the A Cappella rehearsal (no piano played while singing, and without hearing the piece first.) This is the first part of my concept that I proposed for my rejected National ACDA session. So I did it…
When you perform, it’s your job to go out there and save a life. Deke Sharon This week, I welcome the “Father of Contemporary A Cappella,” Deke Sharon onto the show. We discuss the origins of the modern “A Cappella” genre as well as the “family tree” of other types of A Cappella vocal music…
“Whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning.” Jen York-Barr In this special car thoughts I will not only DESCRIBE how I use sectionals in rehearsal, I will show you! (Video recommended) I am a big believer in student ownership, and there are few better ways to accomplish this than building a culture of…
An episode inspired by the Oxford Handbook of Vocal Studies by Dr. Alisha Jones called “Singing High: Black Countertenors and Gendered Sound in Gospel Performance.” The article dropped into my email box and I immediately thought, THIS is a podcast. I was so right. Patrick’s story is not only fascinating, but his experience is emblematic of the intersectional concept. Namely, that Patrick’s race AND sexuality impact the way audiences receive him. The perceptions constantly swaying between “singing high like a woman” to presenting as the “Good Baptist Man.” You also appreciate the in depth discussion of the history of music in the Black Church in America. Join me for this enlightening conversation as Patrick shares his story, and reflects on the article.
The fact of the matter is that you are already gonna present something—even if it is in the classical audience—you are already gonna present something to them that might be foreign to them already. You don’t wanna turn them off at the very beginning.
Patrick Dailey has been described as possessing “a powerful and elegant countertenor voice” (Los Angeles Daily News) and a “VOCAL STANDOUT” (Boston Classical Review). His artistry was identified early through the national NAACP ACT-SO Competition (2005 and 2006), the NFAA ARTS, and Grady-Rayam Prize In Sacred Music of the Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation. Dailey made his professional operatic debut with Opera Saratoga as the first countertenor member of the company’s Young Artist program and was the first countertenor invited to Opera New Jersey’s Victoria J. Mastrobuono Emerging Artist program. Operatic repertoire includes Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nerone in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Belize in Eötvös’ Angels in America. He performs regularly with Harlem Opera Theater, ALIAS Chamber Ensemble, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared with the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra (NC), Soulful Symphony, Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. On January 19, 2009, Mr. Dailey sang a featured duet with Aretha Franklin as the finale for the annual Let Freedom Ring Celebration at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Additionally, he has been a featured artist with Cook, Dixon, and Young (formally Three Mo’ Tenors) since 2012.
Mr. Dailey his west coast operatic debut as Satirino in Cavalli’s La Calisto with Pacific Opera Project of Los Angeles in 2014. The following year, he debuted with Opera Memphis in their historic first production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and won first place in Opera Ebony’s 1st Benjamin Matthews Vocal Competition. Later that year, Mr. Dailey performed the opening invocation for the 2015 Trumpet Awards in Atlanta, GA, the invitation of Trumpet Foundation founder/CEO and Civil Right legend, Xernona Clayton.
In the summers of 2015 and 2016, Mr. Dailey was a young artist with the American Bach Soloists. Soon after he sang the world premiere Frederick Douglas: The Making of an American Prophet composed by Grammy Award winning country songwriter Marcus Hummon and debuted with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Robert Moody. Additionally in 2016, Mr. Dailey made international debuts in the UK and Brazilian premieres of Hasse’s Marc’Antonio e Cleopatra with the Woodhouse Opera Festival and Il Festival de Ópera Barroca de Belo Horizonte and he made his Subculture NYC debut at the invitation of Tony Award winning composer Jason Robert Brown as a part of Brown’s broadway cabaret residency. In the spring of 2017, he debuted with Opera Louisiane as Telemaco in Michael Borowitz’s world premiere jazz-gospel orchestration of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and debuted with the Grand Rapids Symphony singing Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms under the baton of Michael Christie. Soon after, Mr. Dailey returned to the U.K. that fall for the international premiere of Soosan Lolavar’s I.D. Please in the Tete a Tete New Opera Festival in London. In the fall of 2018, he sang the role of Mini-B/Boris the Boar in the world premiere of Dan Visconti and Cerise Jacobs’s Permadeath: A Video Game Opera with White Snakes Projects in Boston, MA to great acclaim. Mr. Dailey became the first countertenor to appear with Shreveport Opera singing Kyle in Robert Paterson’s Three Way: Masquerade in 2019. The remainder of his 2018/2019 season included debuts and appearances with the Austin Baroque Orchestra the IRIS Orchestra of Memphis, TN, Music By Women Festival, and Boston Early Music Festival. Since then, Mr. Dailey made debuts with the Chicago Philharmonic and Missouri Symphony, was a featured soloist at the 2020 ACDA Southern Regional Conference, and debuted at the historic Ryman Auditorium.
Mr. Dailey is featured in Fatherhood, a documentary directed by award winning London based director, Ben Gregor, which premiered on FUSE TV in 2019. He is also a featured on recording projects such as the debut album of acclaimed duo and super producers Louis York (Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly), American Griots (2019), Adrian Dunn’s Redemption Live in Chicago (2020), and the self-titled release from The Aeolians of Oakwood University under the direction of Dr. Jason Max Ferdinand (2020).
Growing in his reputation as a scholar, Mr. Dailey was invited to the Center for Black Music Research’s inaugural Black Vocality Symposium in 2013 giving a performative presentation entitled “The Anatomy of the Black Voice: Peculiarities, Challenges, and Regional Differences”. Since that time, he been Artist-in-Residence, masterclass clinician, and guest lecturer at Southern University, Prairie View A&M University, the University of Arkansas, and Vanderbilt University among others. Mr. Dailey was lead soloist and vocal music curator of the official MLK50 Commemoration at the National Civil Rights Museum in 2018 in Memphis, TN. In the fall of 2019, he presented at the inaugural Harry T. Burleigh Week organized by the Burleigh Legacy Alliance of Burleigh’s hometown of Erie, PA and regularly presents lectures and programs in conjunction with the organization. In June 2020, Mr. Dailey curated and presented a virtual clinic and webinar entitled “A Stirring in My Soul: The Negro Spiritual and Social Justice Movements” presented by the National Museum of African American Music.
Mr. Dailey is a 2012 graduate of Morgan State University and received his master of music from Boston University. He currently serves on the voice faculty of Tennessee State University where he established the Big Blue Opera Initiatives (BBOI) and the annual Harry T. Burleigh Spiritual Festival. Additionally, he is the founding artistic director of the W. Crimm Singers (aka Wakanda Chorale), professional ensemble in residence of BBOI, and is a co-founding member of historically informed progressive, crossover ensemble, Early Music City.
Mr. Dailey serves on the boards of ALIAS Chamber Ensemble, the International Florence Price Festival, Nashville Rep, and the Artistic Planning Committee of the Nashville Symphony. He also serves as community project curator with Intersection Contemporary Music Ensemble and arts and creative arts coordinator of the NAACP-Nashville Branch. A passionate advocate for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, he is a consultant on HBCU initiatives with Opera America, Early Music America, and New Music USA and is an artist ambassador of the Music Inclusion Coalition. He is on the faculty of the Narnia Festival of Narni, Italy leading a program on African American Concert and Sacred Music, and is the program director of the Nashville Opera- Big Blue HBCU Fellowship, an HBCU initiative of the the company in partnership with TSU. Most recently, Dailey was named to the 2020 class of the Nashville Black 40 Under 40 and he was recognized for Outstanding Service from the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts of Washington, DC. Additionally, he is a 2020 recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission.
Mr. Dailey holds membership in the National Association of Negro Musicians, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, inc
This special episode is something a bit different, in that it is a recap of a shared experience. All the way back on Episode 17, Marques Garrett challenged me to intentionally find an opportunity to be an “only” in the room. I had reflected in that conversation that, as a white guy, I don’t think I’ve ever been the “only one” in a room. “I don’t know what that feels like.” Marques suggested that he thought that might be good for me to experience. I agreed. Then Covid happened and the “live on air” challenge had to be tabled for a bit.
Enter my friend Maria Ellis to the rescue. (Find Maria’s past episode 29 pt. 2) I had seen Maria’s great videos about her church, and thought that as a musician, there was no better way to experience a cultural growth moment than in Maria’s music rich church in St. Louis. So, we set it up! Off to St. Louis I went, and wow did I have a great time. I learned so much! While I can’t know everything there is to know about Maria’s cultural experience in one day, I now have a frame of reference. I real life, shared experience that can put future interactions in a perspective that I did not have before.