This month I talked to Katie O’Reilly who is a voice teacher at CMCB. In addition, she is a Boston-based singer, music director, pianist, and educator.
How long have you worked at CMCB?
I started teaching voice lessons at a CMCB satellite program in Jamaica Plain in 2014, and then joined the faculty at 34 Warren in the fall of 2016. I can’t believe it’s been that long already!
What is like being a vocal musician during this pandemic? How do you stay inspired?
This is, unfortunately, a very difficult time to be a singer. Throughout my life, whenever we as a community have faced a crisis or a tragedy, our natural reaction as singers has been to come together and sing: at memorials, at vigils, at protests. So to be unable to sing communally at a time like this, even for someone like myself who is not primarily a choral singer… that has been really difficult. I’m lucky in that I live with my husband, Dan Rodriguez, who is a wonderful pianist, and so in our house, we’ve at least had the ability to make music together.
As far as inspiration goes… what I’ve found, for myself, is that I can’t wait for inspiration to strike me. I have to give myself a schedule, and give myself a list, and say: “I’m going to do this today, no matter what.” And I have to map it out for the future, saying: “Well, tomorrow I’m going to sing this, at this time, and then the day after, I’ll sing this other piece.” It can be very disorienting when plans are canceled, calendars cleared, and there is so much unknown and uncertain about the future. Giving myself a daily creative project reminds me that there IS a future, and that there’s more beyond this immediate present. Inspiration will come if we make the space for that hope.
What do you like best about working at CMCB? Do you have a memory that you are fond of and could share?
There’s too many to count! I love the moment when I’m working with a student and something just “clicks” for them, and they’re able to achieve a new sensation of ease or freedom in their voice. I will say that I’ve always been absolutely tickled when a student draws a picture or a card for me… my fridge is covered in them.
Do you have any other projects, concerts, etc. that you would like us to promote?
Right now, my daily singing project feels a little ridiculous in its scope, but it’s been quite fun. Dan and I have been working through all the Lieder of Franz Schubert, in order by opus number– recording and posting a new video every day on Facebook. At the beginning of the lockdowns, in March, I had done a song a day from the 26 Italian Songs and Arias book (an anthology we voice teachers often use for teaching purposes,) thinking that things would be over by the time I finished. Well, when September rolled around, I figured I needed a new project– and Schubert wrote hundreds of songs, so this ought to keep us busy for a while.
SONG 55 DIE SCHÖNE MÜLLERIN 7. UNGEDULD (“Impatience”) The Bächlein has been there this whole time, and yet the Müller is still so thirsty!!! Venmo: @ktorly. Thanks for keeping the Schuberts flowing! #schuberthonPosted by Katie O’Reilly on Tuesday, October 27, 2020
The goal of this project has been to learn and perform a new song every day, which is a lot different than how classical singers are often taught to approach music-learning. Whether I’m dealing with allergies, fatigue, ennui, or anything else– we’re recording today’s song. Whether it’s a song we know inside and out, or it’s a song that we’re looking at for the first time today– we’re recording today’s song. Whether the song is suited to my voice type or not– we’re recording today’s song. So it’s been a very personal project for me, just spending a little time every day with my spouse and my Schubert. Right now they’re all up on Facebook, with the hashtag #schuberthon.
I’m also collaborating with some awesome performers on a virtual cabaret on Monday, of Tom Lehrer songs: Tom Lehrer for President. You can get your tickets here!