Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Spotlight on Tim Keeler '11

Conductor and countertenor Tim Keeler is new to the New York music scene but is already making waves. He performs regularly with the GRAMMY® nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, and Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity Lutheran. Next season will see him singing with the city’s most feted early music groups - New York Polyphony, TENET and Early Music New York. He holds degrees in music theory and conducting from Princeton, Cambridge, and the University of Michigan. His new venture, Trident Ensemble, has recently given an acclaimed debut performance in Manhattan, with a season of performances to follow at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Times Square.
 

What inspired you to pursue a career in music?

I've always been intrigued by music as a career. I remember the day we had to decide on majors during my sophomore year. I waited until the very last second to decide between music and computer science. There were a few pieces on repeat on my ipod at the time that persuaded me to take the plunge: a Magnificat à 12 by Andrea Gabrieli, some canzonets by Thomas Morley, "Draw on sweet night" by John Wilbye, and Bach's motet Jesu, meine Freude. (I'm amazed at how quickly that list came back...) I realized I wouldn't be happy unless I had those things in my life. I suppose I could have majored in music and not pursued a career in music... let's be honest, that still might happen.

Who are the greatest influences on you as a musician?

If I had to name someone - Gabriel Crouch is up there. (I promise I didn't get paid for this!) But seriously- a more talented, genuine, encouraging person you'll never meet. It's incredibly important to have someone in your corner. Gabriel has been that person for me.

But in general I'm influenced by anyone who performs with passion and purpose. I don't care what it is or who you are. If you're putting yourself out there, you deserve my respect. Because that's what I want to do.

Could you describe your most memorable concert experience?

Singing with the entire PUGC for a Christmas party at a three story apartment in Tribeca. Or when (name redacted) threw his score onto the stage at Richardson. Or when (another name redacted) punched one of the girls in the Yale Glee Club ON STAGE DURING THE FOOTBALL CONCERT.

Outside of Princeton? A performance of the Rachmaninoff vespers by candlelight in King's College chapel is up there...

What is your favorite music to play? And to listen to?

My favorite composer to sing is probably Byrd. To listen to? That's tough. Probably Bach. On the record player right now? Fleetwood Mac, Rumours. I am also an unashamed Taylor Swift fan. Though I think we all agree that To Pimp a Butterfly should win album of the year.

What are you working on at the moment?

I spent the majority of today looking through a late fifteenth century Spanish manuscript making an edition for a concert in February. One of the first pieces notated in quintuple meter. Check it out.

Where would you like to be in 10 years' time?

Oh boy. This is why it took me so long to answer these questions. Too much soul searching involved. In 10 years I hope that I'm still making good music with good people. It'd be nice to be teaching at a university or college by then. But who knows!

What do you enjoy doing most?

Well this one seems very open ended... I just bought a bike. Like, yesterday. And biking back to my apartment was one of the most liberating (read: enjoyable) feelings I've had in a while. Who cares if the subway isn't running!? I've got a bike!

What did your time in the Glee Club teach you? Could you give us a favorite memory?

My freshman year we performed Bach's B Minor mass and Jesu, meine Freude (see first question)I remember being completely blown away by the complexity and intensity of it all. I grew up around music, but this was all new to me. If Glee Club taught me anything, it was how much more I had to learn. That's a simultaneously exciting and daunting revelation. 

My favorite memory has got to be a PUGC performance of Bach's St. John Passion my senior year at the Nollner concert. The opening chorus is still one of the most intense, unrelenting compositions I've ever heard (da capo, are you KIDDING ME?... well that and the overture to Mendelssohn's Elijah... coincidence? no way). Performing that chorus I knew that I could never possibly learn everything I'd need to really understand it. I knew I'd never be a musician really deserving of that kind of work. But I also realized that that was ok: that wherever we are in our development, whatever we bring to the table, (as long as we're always trying to bring more)... it's ok! Your experience and the audience's experience is no less valid. 

Alumni Spotlight on Mimmi Fulmer '74

What inspired you to pursue a career in music?

I began taking piano lessons at age 4, and have never wanted to be anything but a musician ever since.  My life in music has taken on different aspects. I changed from an early immersion in piano to voice study in graduate school.  This was partly due to the encouragement and influence of Walter Nollner, Glee Club Director during my undergraduate studies at Princeton.

Who are the greatest influences on you as a musician?

My early piano teachers were hugely influential in fostering a passion and commitment to practicing.  My life was completely changed when I arrived at Princeton, and discovered the world of musical thought centered there.  The incredible support and brilliance of James Randall, Milton Babbitt, Edward Cone, Arthur Mendel, Paul Lansky, Kenneth Levy, Lewis Lockwood, and Peter Westergaard transformed my ideas of what music was and what I might be capable of doing.  In addition, the experience of studying with legendary singers Bethany Beardslee and Jan DeGaetani inspired me to explore new music, and to try to bring some of their creative genius to my work.

Could you describe your most memorable concert experience?

My most memorable concert experience took place in the old Woolworth Music Building, in the somewhat dilapidated recital room.  I was premiering a piece written for me by graduate student Maura Bosch.  The text was from “The Changing Light at Sandover” by American poet James Merrill, and described a scene with him and David Jackson.  Both Merrill and Jackson were there, sitting in the front row, beaming their pleasure and interest.  It was the greatest privilege to sing Merrill’s transcendent words for him, and I was in a state of combined excitement and nerves.

What is your favorite music to play? And to listen to?

I love singing all music.  When I listen to music for pleasure, I tend to put on recordings of concertos, especially piano and violin.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am the editor of a three-volume anthology of Nordic songs, titled “Midnight Sun”, published by Subito Music.  This project, which includes songs from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, phonetics, translations, recordings of native speakers reciting the texts, and other information, has absorbed much of my time over the last five years.  My goal is to make Nordic songs more accessible to American singers.  As the grand-daughter of immigrants from Finland and Sweden, this anthology is my tribute to a legacy of beauty.

I am also writing a book about “Vision and Prayer” by Milton Babbitt.  This piece was the first to combine live vocal performance with synthesized tape accompaniment.  Premiered in 1961, it is an historic landmark.  My book will include a newly engraved and annotated score, notes from Bethany Beardslee about her work on the piece, coaching notes from Bethany, notes from Godfrey Winham, a copy of Babbitt’s unfinished piano-vocal version, and historical background.  As an annotated performer's guide and critical performance edition, it is meant to inspire and help singers learn and perform this iconic piece.

In terms of performance, I am currently singing concerts with the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble, and am  preparing a teaching video of Nordic songs.

Where would you like to be in 10 years' time?

I would like to be running a semi-annual Nordic festival in Madison, and continuing my work on Nordic songs.  I love teaching, and plan to stay in my position as Professor of Voice and Opera at UW-Madison for years to come.

What do you enjoy doing most?

When I’m not absorbed in one musical project or another, I love to read, to cook, and most of all, spend time with my family, especially my new grandson. 

What did your time in the Glee Club teach you? Could you give us a favorite memory?

My time in the Glee Club was essential to guiding my interests in music.  I was in the second class of women at Princeton, and Walter Nollner was levitating with excitement to have women in the Glee Club.  He vigorously encouraged me to take voice lessons, and gave me many solos with the Glee Club. 

Among many wonderful memories, perhaps my favorite is when the Harvard Glee Club said they would not allow women from the Princeton Glee Club to sing the Harvard alma mater on their stage as part of the Football Concerts.  Walter consulted with the women in the Glee Club, and then replied to Harvard that it was all of us or none of us singing with the Harvard Glee Club.  The next time around, all of us did indeed sing the alma maters.  Change is brought about by both large and small actions, and Walter took a stand that changed things for the better.

Links: 
http://midnightsun.subitomusic.com/
http://www.music.wisc.edu/faculty/mimmi-fulmer/

Alumni Spotlight on Bob Peskin '78

What inspired you to pursue a career in music?

I always knew I’d be working in music, though it took me a long time to make the transition from avocation to vocation. My mother was a classical pianist, and I grew up in a home that was filled with music; I audited music classes at Princeton while still a high school student in town, and gained advance standing in the music department when I matriculated as a freshman. After college, I earned a living doing other things (radio broadcasting, college administration) for almost 15 years before enrolling in a master’s program in choral conducting, and I’ve never looked back.

Who are the greatest influences on you as a musician?

My teachers, including those at Princeton and before, especially Bill Trego and Nancianne Parella, who were the conductor and accompanist, respectively, of both my high school choir and the Freshman Singers.
Dale Warland continues to inspire me, with his attention to detail and his relentless pursuit of artistic excellence. Similarly, Robert Shaw, whose recordings I grew up with, was a tremendous inspiration, especially his humility and his dedication to the composer and the music: making clear that our job as singers is to bring the music to life for the audience.

Could you describe your most memorable concert experience?

Before college: with my high school choir, singing the Duruflé Requiem with M. Duruflé conducting, and Mme. Duruflé at the organ. (Imagine my delight more than 20 years later and a thousand miles to the west, singing the same work with Robert Shaw, who explained to the performers that he was using tempi that were based on “a recording of an extraordinary American high school choir in a concert led by the composer”—the recording from my high school choir performance!)
In college: so many of the performances with the Nassoons—singing on tours for people who had never heard men’s voices in close harmony, and seeing the delight and revelation in their faces; at Reunions, especially for the older classes, who cherished their time together and who had experienced the bonds of fellowship that they could see mirrored in our (very) young faces.
Since college: singing the Rachmaninoff Vespers (“All-Night Vigil”) with the Dale Warland Singers, the night that the Columbia space shuttle disintegrated on re-entry. The concert was dedicated to the memory of the astronauts who had died that day. It’s a profoundly emotional work in any context, but singing it that night was deeply moving.

What is your favorite music to play? And to listen to?

My tastes are very broad—as much as I’m immersed in classical music, I love jazz, rock, and folk music. I also sing in a doo-wop quartet, which keeps me connected to the popular music of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m in the Minnesota Beethoven Festival Chorale, a pick-up group of professional singers led by Dale Warland. We spend a week in rehearsal, and present a pair of concerts at the end of the week. This year, the centerpiece of the concert is Dominick Argento’s “Walden Pond.” I sang the premiere as a member of the Dale Warland Singers 20 years ago, and it’s one of those works that you get more out of each time you sing it.

Where would you like to be in 10 years' time?

Still singing, I hope!

What do you enjoy doing most?

Other than singing? Spending time with family & friends, reading/learning, travel.

What did your time in the Glee Club teach you? Could you give us a favorite memory?

I opted to join the Freshman Singers instead of the Glee Club, so that I could continue singing with my mentor, Bill Trego. At the same time, Glee Club conductor Walter Nollner invited me to sing on the GC’s intersession tour to Jamaica. Singing for two conductors at the same time was a valuable experience, and proved to be both instructive and a foreshadowing of my career as a professional choral singer.
Favorite GC memory: intersession tour to Jamaica in January, 1975. We sang at a reception for the country’s prime minister and the top government officials.
Favorite Freshman Singers memory: spring tour to Colonial Williamsburg, and singing by candlelight in Bruton Parish Church.

Links:
http://www.mnchorale.org/
http://www.fabulousfairlanes.com/
http://www.mnbeethovenfestival.org/dale-warland-and-festival-chorale-2/