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What Would Mozart Do?

Nico de Villiers

More than ever before, musicians have to think outside the box as reinvention is inevitable in a new era for the performing arts. By asking "What Would Mozart Do?" each episode features musicians who discuss how they have transferred the skills that music had taught them into other fields of work.

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Today I am talking to baritone and entrepreneur Brian Witkowski. In our chat we talk about the path that brought Brian to starting his own business called the Lucrative Artist, a platform where artists are helped to identify their purpose, to recognise their worth, and realise their value.
Brian Witkowski is a singer, actor and voice teacher turned business coach for entrepreneurial artists and educators. As the Founder and CEO of the Lucrative Artist, where he provides boutique business coaching services and trainings for fellow entrepreneurial artists and educators to help them become more prosperous, purposeful and authentic in their work. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts with emphasis in Vocal Performance and minor in Theatre at the University of Arizona; his studies and career have spanned the globe with an eclectic range of repertoire including opera, musical theatre, oratorio, art song and music ministry. He has taught in K-12 and collegiate settings, facilitates professional development seminars to teachers and artists through Arts Integration Solutions, Self-Employment in the Arts and other organizations, is regularly sought out as a speaker, and offers masterclasses and lectures in authenticity, financial empowerment, and leadership. He believes everyone has the ability to create more of the life and career they want to have as an entrepreneur.

Instagram: @thelucrativeartist
Twitter: @LucrativeArt

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Today I am talking to soprano Henriikka Gröndahl. In our chat we discuss how career trajectories can change over time and the possible influence of relationships and parenthood on negotiating a singing career. Henriikka Gröndahl is a versatile lyric soprano with one foot firmly in the chorus of the Royal Opera House in Stockholm, and the other foot happily freelancing.

Her career began with a boom at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow in 2004, when she stepped in as the cover of Mimì in La Bohème. She sang a total of 11 performances of it for Scottish Opera – both at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow and at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. During her first years out of college, she also sang Pamina for British Youth Opera and Papagena (covering Pamina) for Garsington Opera, followed by a Pamina , Nannetta, Musetta and Julia at Gothenburg Opera in Sweden, Musetta and Princesse at the Royal Opera in Sweden and Fünfte Magd at Liceu in Barcelona, Fiordiligi for Samling Opera and Donna Elvira at Scottish Opera. She has since then stepped in at short notice to sing Liù at Gothenburg opera, Jorun at Vadstena Summer Academy and Olympia/Giulietta/Antonia/ at Folkoperan, where she later also performed Liù. Her latest role was Euredice (Gluck) at Norrlandsoperan, as well as small obscure solo bits and pieces at the Royal Opera in Stockholm.
Her career has led her to sing in many countries around Europe, and she frequently performs at chamber music festivals and oratorios, but is nowadays also old enough to engage in other non music related activities like hiking, paddling, hanging out with friends and family, painting, throwing dinner parties and passionately enjoying life!

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Today I am talking to mezzo-soprano Carolyn Dobbin. In our chat we discuss Carolyn’s career trajectory from art teacher to opera singer, and how her creativity carried her through loss and grief during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Northern Irish mezzo-soprano and Samling Scholar, Carolyn began her career as a teacher of Art and Design before graduating from the Opera course at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Carolyn was Associate Artist at Welsh National Opera in 2010 and spent two years at Luzern opera house, Switzerland in 2012-2014.
She has performed extensively in opera, oratorio and in solo recitals, including appearances at the Royal Opera House Linbury Studio, English National Opera, Grange Park Opera, Opera Holland Park, Luzerner Theatre, Stadttheater Bern, and the Royal Albert Hall.
She has performed the roles of Carmen, Annio, Penelope, Bradamante, Polina, Meg Page, Dritte Dame, Lucretia, Amastre, Octavia, Nicklausse, Magdalena, Dorabella, Charlotte, Teodata, Concepcion, Scipio, Idamante and Angelina.
She recorded the role of Madeleine in R. Loders rare opera ‘Raymond and Agnes’ with Richard Bonynge and Retrospect Opera, and Ethel Smythe's 'Fete Gallant' with Odaline de la Martinez. She released a solo CD ‘Caleno’ with Delphian Records and Iain Burnside of songs by composers from Northern Ireland in 2018 and has appeared on BBC Radio 3 and BBC TV. She set up the Northern Irish song project which aims to collect and record many forgotten songs by Northern Irish composers and new song cycles by current composers.
Recent and future roles include Madam Popova in The Bear, Mary in Wagners Der Fliegende Höllander, Smeton in Anna Bolena for Longborough Festival Opera, Fenena in Nabucco and Alise In Lucia Di Lammermoor for Dorset Opera Festival , Mrs Peachum in Mrs Peachums School for Lovers and ‘ The Witch’ in Hansel and Gretel for Irish National Opera. Future roles include Siegrune in Wagner's Walküre 2020/23, Mary in Der Fliegende Höllander with Sir Bryn Terfel in 2022, Northern Ireland Opera’s Wallace Film Project, the premier of a new Harvey Weinstein based opera for the Belfast Festival, Handels Alexander’s Feast for the new Le Foyer des Artistes and Recitals of her Northern Ireland song project.
Instagram: @carolyn_dobbin_mezzo
Twitter: @carolyndobbin

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Today I am talking to Hendrik Vermeulen, a South African Couturier, fashion designer, singer-songwriter and producer. In our chat we talk about the importance of time management and structuring in order to enhance creativity and we discuss how careers develop through honest and good personal relations.
At the atelier of multifaceted artist, Hendrik Vermeulen, it is not merely about fashion... It’s about expression, it’s about art.

The garments are made with the utmost care by expert hands, with luxury fabrics that they create or select for their high quality and made with the least impact on the environment.

The exclusive processes used to transform the raw material such as hand dyeing, airbrushing or painting, are mostly performed in-house, following strict guidelines so as to minimise their ecological footprint. Other treatments such as laser cutting or digital printing are performed outside their atelier, under their strict supervision, by companies that have been selected for their similar ethos and work ethics.

Hendrik comments: “In our Atelier we still adhere to the original Haute Couture methods, amongst some of the modern additions, using mostly handwork techniques. Handmade is a term coming often in the description of our fabrication methods; the handwork taking a large part of the time consuming process that a bespoke creation requires.

Our unique pieces are sewn, adorned, beaded, embroidered, appliquéd and hemmed by hand. These tasks require skills and dexterity as well as experience and are performed by our ‘Little Hands’, who have been working with us for more than a decade. Our finishers and seamstresses are taught in our atelier, to our requirements and those skills are then past over to the next generation.

Our art is mostly inspired by nature; therefore, we make sure that we look after Mother nature in return. We use natural, sustainable fibres such as cotton, silk, linen or wool as much as possible and non-toxic dyes. Many of our collections feature strong messages about conserving nature and appreciating our breathtakingly beautiful fauna and flora. We believe that symbiosis between nature and production using technology is possible, it requires though a firm engagement from all actors to invest in substantially more time and means. We believe in collaborating with like minded people who are sharing similar creative audacity and novelty.

We strongly believe that everything in this world is interconnected and that universal love should be the common thread that binds us all.”

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Today I am talking to pianist Peter Jablonski. We discuss piano repertoire in and outside the canon, how careers take time to develop, and wonder about the influence of social media on the longevity of a career in music.
Peter Jablonski is an award-winning internationally acclaimed Swedish pianist. Discovered by Claudio Abbado and Vladimir Ashkenazy, and signed by Decca in his seventeenth year, Jablonski went on to perform, collaborate, and record with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Kirov (now Mariinsky), La Scala Philharmonic, Tonhalle Zürich, Orchestre National de France, NHK Tokyo, DSO Berlin, Warsaw Philharmonic, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Cleveland Orchestra; Vladimir Ashkenazy, Valery Gergiev, Andris Nelsons, Daniel Harding, Kurt Sanderling, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Riccardo Chailly, Daniele Gatti, and Myung-Whun Chung.

Jablonski has performed and recorded the complete piano concertos of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Bartók, and all ten piano sonatas by Prokofiev. Hailed an ‘unconventional virtuoso’ (Present Arts), during his three-decade-long career, Jablonski developed a diverse repertoire that includes works by Barber, Gershwin, Szymanowski, Lutosławski, Copland, Stenhammar, with most recent additions of such Scandinavian and European composers as Valborg Aulin, Elfrida Andrée, Laura Netzel, Johanna Müller-Hermann, Grażyna Bacewicz, and Alexey Stanchinsky.

Composers with whom Jablonski worked include Witold Lutosławski and Arvo Pärt, and he has had a number of works composed for, and dedicated to him, including Wojciech Kilar’s Piano Concerto, for which he won the Orpheus award for the world premiere performance at the Warsaw Autumn Festival. Jablonski remains a supporter of today’s composers and regularly gives world premieres of new works, together with those that have been neglected by music history.

Jablonski’s extensive discography includes recordings he has made for labels such as Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Philips, Altara, Octavia, and Ondine. He received numerous accolades for his recordings, which include the Edison and the Grammophone Classical Music Award.

Peter Jablonski is the recipient of the Litteris et Artibus medal for his services to culture, granted to him by the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf. He is also the winner of the prestigious prize Årets Svensk i Världen (International Swedish Personality of the Year), receiving it before ABBA and Astrid Lindgren.
Twitter: @Jablonski_P

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Today I am talking to countertenor Daniel Keating-Roberts. We discuss the importance of creative minds channeling over linear matter, we consider potential ways in which the pandemic has left a positive mark on the performance industry, and Daniel shares his enthusiasm and interest in performance psychology.
Daniel studied in Sheffield, before completing his Masters at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, with awards from the Foyle Foundation and the Countess of Munster Trust. He also won the 2009 Guildhall aria competition. In 2010, he became the first counter-tenor to be accepted onto the English National Opera’s Operaworks programme and in 2014, Daniel was awarded a ‘Golden Mask’ award, a ‘special jury prize’ with a team for his work in the title role of Franziskus (Sergei Nevsky) at the Bolshoi Theatre.

Daniel has performed with opera companies all over the world and currently lives in Hamburg, Germany.

Outside of performing, Daniel is a singing teacher and educator with a specialism in performance coaching. Alongside his individual studio, Daniel has worked with several different opera companies and music colleges to deliver workshops and coaching. His workshops are now in demand for corporate team building and creativity exploration, offering businesses the same fun and self-awareness we enjoy as performers.

Recently, Daniel began his first project as producer for a site-specific work in East London, working with private firms to encourage dialogue with the communities they exist alongside.

A founder member of Voces8, Daniel has previously been Corporate Events and Training manager for the New London Orchestra, and held roles within the charity MAMA, an organisation working in Mozambique, Africa. Daniel still works as an agent in London, organising performers for private events and studio recordings for film and computer games.

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Today I am talking to flautist Angela McCuiston. In our chat Angela passionately shares her story of how a series of playing-related injuries have caused her to become a Fitness Trainer for Musicians.
Angela McCuiston is a NASM-CPT, CES, SFS and CETI-CES (Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist and Cancer Exercise Specialist) and owner of Music Strong, a business that specializes in personal fitness training for musicians.

Winner of the 2007 NFA Piccolo Master class, Angela received her Master of Music in Flute Performance from Florida State University and her Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance from Tennessee Technological University. An avid performer, Angela is Assistant Principal/Piccolo of Sinfonia Gulf Coast of Destin, Nashville Philharmonic, Columbus Symphony and Nashville Flute Choir. Joining the military soon after 9/11 she recently became a member of the 313th Army Band in Huntsville, AL, after completing a 16-year tenure in the 129th Army Band in Nashville, TN. In addition to her solo performances, she has performed with such celebrities as Kristen Chenowith, Pink Martini, Jamie Bernstein, Morgan James, Chris Mann, Nancy Griffith and Mary Wilson of the Supremes.

As a trainer, Angela maintains several training locations in Nashville and also travels to give her workshops and presentations, most notably presenting at the National Flute Association Conventions in Salt Lake City, UT; Las Vegas, NV, Washington, D.C. and Orlando, FL. Among her recent workshops, she has travelled to present at Arizona State University, Florida State University, Stephen F. Austin University, Ft. Lewis University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga among others.

Recently she was sought out by the Old Guard, Army Fife and Drum Corps as a special consultant to prevent playing related injuries. She has since taken up residence on the faculty of the Stetson University flute camp and has been sought out for numerous other positions including her recent appointment Fall of 2018 as Chair of the National Flute Association Performance Health Committee and adjunct flute professor at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN in August 2020.

In February 2019 she published her first book: The Musician’s Essential Exercises, with plans to branch out into instrument-specific volumes in the near future. During the pandemic of 2020 she recorded over 20 instrument specific workouts available for download.

When she is not performing or training, Angela can be found riding her Trek road bike as many hours as there are sunshine. She recently completed her 4th century ride (100+ miles) and has a goal to ride between 5-12 centuries and log 5,000 miles.

Angela is constantly on the search for new research and her studies include Aexander Technique, Barbara Conable’s “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body” Body Mapping Class and Eva Amsler’s classes in Dynamic Integration in addition to live workshops with NASM, most recently traveling to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to complete coursework in Neurokinetic Therapy.

Angela's book
In print:
On Amazon:
Other Activities
Instrument Specific workouts: (free short ones are on YouTube, these are longer and better done)
Covid Comeback Challenge:

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