Dennis Whittaker has had a fascinating journey through the music world.
After his studies in music education at Baylor University and a masters degree with Jeff Bradetich at Northwestern University, Dennis found himself teaching middle and high school orchestra in Texas.
After seven years of teaching in the Waco and Houston public schools, a series of events occurred that propelled him into the professional performing world:
- he landed the principal bass position for the Houston Grand Opera
- he was hired to teach bass at the University of Houston
- he began subbing regularly in the Houston Symphony
We dig into the events surrounding this transition and much more!
This episode is divided into three parts:
Part 1 – life in an opera orchestra
- what the season looks like
- why Dennis likes Handel’s Julius Caesar Overture for auditions
- how to audition for an opera orchestra
Part 2 – staying in shape for the long haul
- standing for opera performances – why Dennis decided to go in this direction
- what’s freeing about standing
- power playing and sitting
- how to get through a massive section like the end of Loenghrin
- Dennis’ three types of technical workouts on the bass
Part 3 – the paths of our lives
- Dennis’ journey through the music education world and into performance
- playing the Karr-Koussevitzky bass
- key takeaways for teenagers looking to music as a career
Links to check out:
- Dennis’ University of Houston faculty page
- Dennis playing the Karr-Koussevitzky bass
- Dennis and David Young opera excerpt session at ISB 2013
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