Faculty spotlight: Tyrone Whiting
We are happy to bring you the first in our faculty spotlight series, featuring Tyrone Whiting, Senior Clinician in Choral and Orchestral Music.
Tyrone is a native of London and comes to us from New Jersey, where he has been the Director of Music at Grace Church Newark since 2018. Tyrone brings a wealth of diverse experience as an acclaimed organist, pianist, and choral and orchestral conductor across Europe and the Americas, and we are thrilled to have him on faculty!
We interviewed Tyrone this week about his journey to the US and his perspective on summer programs, as well as some philosophical questions about our craft and music's connection to the natural world.
CCE: Tell us how your musical journey brought you to the US.
TW: I have always wanted to work or study in the United States. After applying for graduate schools here in 2016, though subsequently studying at the Royal College of Music in London, UK, the idea was solidified. In 2017 I was appointed as Director of Music at Grace Church in Newark and I began working in the US in February 2018. Since then, I have also maintained an active conducting and organ portfolio including performances at St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Paul's Chapel, and Grace Church, NYC; St. Barnabas, Greenwich CT; as well as studying organs in Mexico. The wealth of potential in the US for excellent music making is not to be underestimated and I have greatly enjoyed being a part of this.
CCE: What has it been like coming from the UK to the States as a musician? What are some of the most exciting things you’ve discovered about working in music in the US?
TW: There are an endless number of differences in music making between the United States and the United Kingdom. Many good, some great, others bad! However, it has been such a wonderful challenge working with colleagues, friends, students, and all who I've encountered during my brief time in the United States so far. There are some stunning concert venues, churches, varied musical histories, and events all over the country in a wealth not found in many other parts of the world. I've heard orchestras I've never thought I would hear live. I've seen landscapes, architecture, and events I could only have imagined. And I have met some of the best people both professionally and socially. One of the most exciting things about the US, particularly in the area I live, is the potential and drive that people have surrounding the Arts. This must be captured, bottled, and sold!
CCE: What most excites you about working on the faculty at the Conductors’ Collective Retreat?
TW: I am fortunate enough to have had some excellent teachers, both in my formal training and on courses attended. I am most excited to share the passion I have for music and its instruction/learning. Music without passion is inexcusable. A passion for its performance, its learning, its memorization, its historical context, etc. are things I cannot wait to share with both students and fellow faculty. Teaching on this course with an excellent cohort of instructors, I hope to inspire or kindle the same passion in others. Collective learning and collaborative processes are essential to form a well-rounded, healthy musician. I hope to learn from the students and other faculty just as much as they are expecting to learn from me. Focused study courses are an opportunity for all involved to strengthen weaknesses, gain new skills, and so much more.
CCE: Have you participated in a summer music program before?
TW: I have worked on many summer courses before, as conductor, organist, pianist, and in a former life, a violinist. Summer courses are a wonderful way to engage in a focused and driven music making, as well as learning, discovering and creating new things, in collaboration with other students and staff. I enjoy working with individuals and chamber groups as well as large choruses and orchestras. Summer courses have offered me some of the best opportunities to further or strengthen my career and I hope that students who leave our course will feel the same.
CCE: What do you think are some of the most important ways a conductor can learn, benefit, and grow at a summer program?
TW: GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SCORE. This has to be some of the best advice for any conductor. Of course there is great need for efficacious study of materials, reading, etc. However, I mean this both literally and metaphorically. We all know it is important to engage with our singers and not use the score as a crutch to avoid awkward eye contact. What is equally if not more important is to make a concerted effort to engage with other musicians, as chamber performers, collaborative partners, or over a drink! Mutual learning, exposures to previously unthought of ideas and concepts, and life-long connections can all be made! Even a walk can be more effective than anxious practice. My experience in Performance Science informs my pedagogy for healthy learning and scientifically-based performance/education methods and models. Musician well-being is a top priority and confining oneself to study or a practice room is not conducive to a healthy musician!
CCE: What do you think the natural world can teach us about our craft, and about art and creation in general?
TW: There is much in the world which goes missed. The beauty of a golden ratio or Fibonacci number in nature. How a computer works. The passing of the International Space Station clearly visible over head. Ask yourself why. Why to the world, and why to yourself. Why am I making music? Why am I making music how I am doing so? Why does a harpsichord string not get louder if I press the key harder, but plucking a guitar string hard makes it stronger? Why is music so unequivocally interlinked with pretty much every other discipline out there? Why do I dislike this recording? Why do I not go to more concerts? Why is the orchestra seated as it is? Etc., etc., etc. ad nauseam!
Is my craft an art? Is my craft creation? Does it add to the natural world? Does it serve a purpose? We can often ask ourselves these questions, particularly in moments less than fruitful.
Our craft is an art, and our craft is creation. The beauty which one finds in a bouquet of flowers, another may find in a bare, winter tree. As such, one person's interpretation of a work may not work everyone, but ask yourself WHY is does not match what you consider to be a good interpretation. The importance of the question why? leads to a deeper understanding of one's and other's intentions, and leads to more successful learning in short and long term goals.
CCE: Tell us your thoughts about spending time in Utah’s beautiful red rock canyon country. Have you been there before? What are you most looking forward to experiencing there?
TW: Having been in the United States only 18 months, I have managed to tick off 12 states, and Utah will be No. 13 (unless another beats it to it!). I am extremely excited to see the incredible landscapes described as "natural architecture", and to experience a remoteness not found as the city-dweller I have always been, London, NYC, Newark... I am also looking forward to two important aspects, which most people do not get to experience too often: quiet stillness and darkness! As alluded to slightly earlier, I am a bit of a space-geek, and adore all things to do with Physics(/any science). Having the opportunity to be under one of the darkest patches of sky in the United States will make for some incredible star-gazing.
CCE: Any exciting projects upcoming for you in the NYC/Newark area that people can come see/hear?
TW: I keep an active recital portfolio working with choirs, orchestras, and as a soloist. For more information about my work, please visit www.tyronewhiting.com
You can read Tyrone's bio on our website. If you'd like to learn more from Tyrone, and our fantastic faculty, sign up for our mailing list to learn more about our offerings, and to receive a reminder to apply! Keep a sharp eye out for our other faculty spotlights in the coming weeks.