Dr. Tim Sharp, Executive Director, of ACDA gives a delightful interview and also warns Choir Nation about the impending “choral tsunami”, and how we can hop on board and ride the wave into a world where singing in a choir is as commonplace as yoga.
Now approaching his seventh season as Artistic Director of the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, Tulsa, OK, critics characterize Tim Sharp’s conducting as having “stunning power” and “great passion and precision”. In a recent review of the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus’s performance of Mozart’s Requiem, arts critic James Watts stated, “The Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, prepared by its artistic director Tim Sharp, was in excellent form, summoning up rafter-shaking power…and showing great sensitivity …”
In the summer of 2015, Sharp will lead the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus in a performance at the Milan World Expo as part of a concert tour of Italy, and in the summer of 2016 TOC will serve as chorus in residence for the Classical Musical Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, where they will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War, and Haydn’s Stabat Mater. In 2011 Sharp served as Principal Guest Conductor at the International Festival of the Aegean in Syros, Greece, in the production of Verdi’s La Traviata, and performed Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. Tim returns to Carnegie Hall this month for the seventh time, conducting his composition Come Away to the Skies: A High Lonesome Bluegrass Mass.
Dr. Sharp is Executive Director of the American Choral Directors Association, the world’s largest association of choral conductors, students, scholars, composers, and choral industry representatives. He pursues an aggressive agenda of strategic planning and progressive initiatives to keep the American Choral Directors Association energized and relevant in the 21st century. He represents choral activity in the United States to the International Federation for Choral Music, and appears regularly as guest conductor and clinician throughout the world.
Before leading the American Choral Directors Association, Tim was Dean of Fine Arts at Rhodes College, Memphis, TN, where he conducted the Rhodes Singers and MasterSingers Chorale. In 2003, Sharp’s production of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi won an Ostrander Award, Memphis’ annual award for excellence in theater. Prior to his position in Memphis, he conducted the Belmont University Chorale and Oratorio Chorus, Nashville, TN, where he received choral credits on the Grammy Nominated and Dove Award winning recording A Glen Campbell Christmas.
Tim received his education at Belmont University (BM); The School of Church Music, Louisville, KY (MCM; DMA); and studied further at the Aspen Music School, Aspen, CO; the NEH Medieval Studies program at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; throughout Belgium on a Rotary Scholarship; and at Cambridge University (UK), where he is a Clare Hall Life Fellow.
The moment you knew you’d dedicate your life to music
In Dr. Sharps grad school conducting class, he heard and felt how his gesture manipulated the sound of the choir in front of him!
Backing up to his undergrad years, Dr. Sharp was offered an opportunity to make an impact through a church youth summer program, where he was not only a counselor but taught the children music. He learned that if he could communicate what he knew about singing and musicianship, he could make a difference.
Worst musical moment
After a pre-recital hearing his graduate recital, consisting of Britten’s Cantata Misericordium, along with Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices, Dr Sharp’s mentor and professor told him that the Byrd was very underprepared. He had put all his effort into the Britten, and had underestimated the Byrd. It was clear that the Byrd was not in the correct style, tonally, of a Renaissance piece. Dr. Sharp, realizing that he had put ego first, was physically ill as a result. The lesson was to not underestimate the importance of preparation and to give equal weight to ALL parts of the program.
The proudest musical moment
Dr. Sharp feels accomplished when he sees a little bit of himself in the program choice or gesture of one of his own students.
From a performance standpoint, it’s when Dr. Sharp performed Bach’s B Minor Mass, but generally prepping a major work. Giving your choir what they need musically, then getting out of the way is important. Once you internalize the score then teach it, you have give it to others so they may experience the depth of the journey. The director is essentially the salesperson convincing the choir it’s worth the undertaking. When you realize the choir needs to become the owners of the work, the music begins to speak for itself.
Conductors need passion, authority (be a Frequent Flyer), and confidence, and the ability to let go.
On amateur singers: There’s an instrument in there [the singer/human] that needs to be played and heard, and if they do it with each other, the sum is far greater than the individual parts. It’s especially rewarding with amateurs.
The art is highly amateur with very high professional standards. In order to reach those standards, you start building the individual voice.
Although the voice matures, there’s still a voice. Singing it’s still a lifelong event.
On Choral Entrepreneurship: You’ve got something they want! Dr. Sharp believes Choral Music will be as commonplace as yoga in the near future!
Essentially, too much for show notes! Listen as he shares his vision for ACDA!
Most excited about right now
America Cantat 8 (The largest non-competitive choral immersion experience) hosted by ACDA in the Bahamas and the US
Expanding ACDA into Central and South America, and Canada, even though they have radically different cultures.
Advice for your younger self
Don’t look over your shoulder thinking you’re not good enough. Be inspired, but don’t compare yourself to others.
What makes a great conductor?
1. Great teaching skills (Maestro)
2. Communication skills
3. Musicianship/study skills connected with both teaching and communication.