Q&A with Dr. Andrew Crane
Dr. Andrew Crane currently serves as director of choral activities at East Carolina University, where he conducts the Chamber Singers, University Chorale, and heads the graduate program in choral conducting. Prior to coming to ECU in 2011, Crane held a similar position at California State University-San Bernardino, where he received the College of Arts and Letters Outstanding Teaching Faculty award. Choirs under his direction have appeared by invitation at conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, California Music Educators Association, and the Southern California Vocal Association. He is active as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator of choirs throughout the country. Additionally, Crane enjoys a career as a professional solo and ensemble tenor, having appeared with such groups as the Los Angeles Bach Festival, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Lansing Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus, Utah Valley Symphony, and many more. He holds BM and MM degrees from Brigham Young University, and the doctor of musical arts from Michigan State University.
How did you become interested in music?
I grew up in a very musical family; my parents and my siblings were musical. However, I sort of thought I would be the one who didn’t do that, and for a while, I wasn’t even interested in music. In high school, this girl invited me to be a part of the musical Oklahoma! At first I didn’t want to be in the musical because I thought it would be embarrassing. But I liked the girl, so I reluctantly signed up for the play. I was hooked on music after that, and I truly love it.
What musicians inspire you?
There are so many different types of musicians—composers, conductors, and singers. I will give the names of one from each genre that has inspired me. I am inspired by the composer Leonard Bernstein. I have also been inspired by the conductor Helmuth Rilling, who I have sung for and I find very brilliant. I also find inspiration from singer Luciano Pavarotti. In terms of a choir I look up to, I have always enjoyed Chanticleer, out of San Francisco.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
I really enjoy what I teach. I love music, particularly choral music, which is what I am immersed in all day. It’s an art form that I feel really passionate about. I really love getting my students interested in music as well. In my own experience, I know I never would have participated in the musical in high school if that person did not invite me. So, when I have students in my class, I try to get the light turned on for them too. I want them to have a really positive experience with choral music.
If we were to look at your iPod or ride with you in your car, what music what we hear?
I actually don’t listen to a lot of music in my spare time. I listen to talk radio, podcasts, and books on tape. I love music, of course. I listen to it all of the time at work. But, if I were to listen to it on my spare time as well, I know I would start analyzing every aspect of it, which would stress me out.
Any music/songs people might be surprised about when they learn you listen to them?
Queen, The Killers, and Barry Manilow.
Tell us what being a conductor is like.
Being a conductor is great. You take a piece of music that was written with a composer’s intention in mind and you are able to put your own personal interpretation on it, which I really like. I like sitting down at the piano as I am first looking at a piece, playing it, and adding my own interpretative ideas. I also think being a conductor is so much about the rehearsal process—how you get the choir from Point A to Point B, which has a lot to do with teaching. Conducting does involve waving your arms, but I think we don’t talk enough about the actual teaching component. A conductor must motivate his choir to learn a piece in an efficient and effective way.
This has been a production of East Carolina University. To hear more, please visit www.ecu.edu/treasuredtunes.