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.