DR. GERALD THOMAS GRAYPERSONAL STATEMENT
First and foremost, as a conductor, I bring twenty-five years of experience at all levels from fully professional choirs, collegiate choirs, elementary school and church choirs. My formative years were all under the tutelage of conductors greatly influenced by Robert Shaw and finally Robert Shaw himself. Their teaching and conducting emphasized exacting rhythm, energetic text-based phrasing, precise balancing of chords, unification of vowels, exacting expressiveness and impact on the audience. My studies began with George Mabry, chorus master emeritus of the Nashville Symphony and professor emeritus of Austin Peay State University. I continued with Donald Neuen at the Eastman School of Music which culminated in five years as a principle singer with Robert Shaw, in France, Atlanta and New York where I sang on eleven TELARC recordings. I then began doctoral studies at the University of Iowa with William Hatcher and Richard Bloesch where I learned that choral artistry must be grounded in scholarship. Now, in a music school of 600 majors and 150 voice majors, I strive daily to instill these principles in the young singers and conductors entrusted to me.
As a professional solo singer, much of my work has been with premier Period orchestras throughout the United States and in Europe. This journey began in the summer of 1994 when I studied and performed, as a tenor soloist, at the Bach Aria Festival under the direction of David Britton, a member of the Bach Aria Group and Distinguished Professor of Voice at Arizona State University. The following summer I received a fellowship to sing at the Carmel Bach Festival as a soloist and professional chorister. That led to auditions in Boston where I began singing as a soloist and professional chorister with the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque and Emmanuel Music under Christopher Hogwood, Martin Pearlman, Craig Smith, Bruno Weill, Seiji Ozawa, Harry Bickett and many others. More solo engagements followed with Musica Angelica in Los Angeles and the Wiener Akademie in Wien, Austria under the direction of Martin Hasselböck, and in San Francisco with the American Bach Soloists under the direction of Jeffrey Thomas. Through these experiences I learned the power of combining passion with extreme precision of gesture. Singing Bach, one-per-part with these singers and players changed my life. My singing experiences have afforded me, as a conductor, a particular fluency in the musical language of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Lastly, through my twenty years of teaching voice at the university/conservatory level, graduates of my studio have consistently been awarded assistantships at major conservatories throughout the country. My graduates have won awards at the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions and work in professional Regional opera houses such as Arizona Opera and Minnesota Opera. I have graduates teaching in universities, public schools and even acting in a television soap opera. My understanding of the voice is both scientific and intrinsic. Through graduate-level studies in vocal science and pedagogy with Ingo Titze and Scott McCoy, I gained an understanding of the structures and acoustics of singing. I then learned to relate science to my own singing sensations and to the singing of others in order to sympathetically “feel” what singers do on a bio-mechanical level. This allows me to help singers bring their breath and resonance into harmony with their body culminating in a complete artistic expression. It has proven very successful in the studio and I bring this to bear in my training of choirs. It gives me a unique authority to teach vocal technique in the choral rehearsal.