Sing, sing, sing
Tim Sharp shares his love of choral music with the masses as leader of the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus.
Dr. Tim Sharp is in his third year as artistic director/ conductor of Tulsa Oratorio Chorus. Sharp also serves as executive director of the American Choral Directors Association in Oklahoma City.
Tulsa Oratorio Chorus (TOC) was established in 1992 as a performing organization comprising volunteer musicians who join by audition. TOC has worked in collaboration with other area arts organizations, including Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Opera and Tulsa Ballet.
In addition, TOC has performed in numerous places outside the Tulsa area, including New York City (Carnegie Hall); Mexico City, Mexico; Vienna, Austria; Auckland, New Zealand; and Sydney, Australia. In July, TOC participated in the International Festival of the Aegean on Syros Island, Cyclades, Greece.
Here, Sharp discusses how he got to TOC, the organization’s upcoming season and his favorite leisure-time listening selections:
What prompted your interest in pursuing the position with TOC?
I moved to Oklahoma in 2008 to take the position of executive director of the American Choral Directors Association. … I had agreed with my executive committee that I would pursue a conducting position after I had established my work in Oklahoma City, and the opportunity to conduct in Tulsa came along at just the right time. I interviewed in the spring of 2009 and began conducting that fall.
Do you have experience in other facets of music conducting?
I conducted the orchestra at Rhodes College in Memphis, which was part of my teaching load there before moving to Oklahoma. Throughout my career, I have worked with orchestras as a part of my conducting of major choral works that often include large orchestras. I have studied orchestral conducting as well as choral conducting. … As a singer and a pianist, I was always drawn more to choirs and choral works, but I have also enjoyed conducting operas, orchestras, musical theater and chamber works. Before moving to Oklahoma, I was very pleased to have won an award in Memphis for the conducting of a Puccini opera.
What made you decide to become a conductor?
I grew up singing and playing the piano. I discovered conducting when I began my college work and found that working with groups was a skill that I had and one that I wanted to follow and develop. I conducted choirs throughout college and then went on to major in this area in graduate school. One summer I received a scholarship to the Aspen Music School and spent the summer studying and conducting in that environment. At the conclusion of that experience, I knew that conducting was what I wanted to do for my career, and I have never looked back.
Tell us about the upcoming season. Our TOC is focusing on the music of J. S. Bach, working our way through some of his smaller works, such as his cantatas and motet … working our way up to his “Magnificat,” a longer work, and then at the end of the year performing his greatest work of all, the monumental “Mass in B minor.” … We are also performing two concerts with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. The first, in November, will feature Hans Zimmer’s music from the film “Pirates of the Caribbean.” … Next March we will perform Mahler’s “Third Symphony” along with TSO. The first concert features our men, and the Mahler concert will feature our women.
What types of music are your favorites for listening and relaxation, and why?
Like my teenage daughter, I listen to music all the time. It is not only my job to do so; I simply have chosen a vocation that I love doing 24/7. So, I don’t suppose it is surprising that the music I listen to privately is very much like the music I like to perform. Every morning, I start my day listening to a Bach cantata. I own recordings of all of Bach’s known cantatas, and I find they are a great way to center myself and to start my day.
During the day, I am listening to choirs from all around the world, and I’m particularly attentive to new sounds, jazz choirs and choirs that are performing new and unique music. As the day moves on, and I feel like winding down, I usually go to Pandora on my computer and enjoy listening to Latin music; some of the more clever popular performers, such as the Dave Matthews Band; or my favorite casual listening, a mix on my iPod that my daughter has assembled for me that I request from her. I ask her to give me a mix of songs she likes, that she thinks I will like. She is usually right, but it is also my fatherly and not-so-sneaky way of discovering what she is listening to.