Founding partner of Ninja Tracks, Kaveh Cohen sits down with me to discuss composition, the business of music and the cognoscenti class. Having known Kaveh for quite some time, I was excited to hear some new insights about his process, background and his time behind the counter at Guitar Center- maybe he was saving it up for the podcast. Noticing I’ve started each of these sentences with a gerund is fun, too- hoping you enjoy this episode, am I.
Leila Charles Leigh and I talk a lot about juggling kids with work, and where the two intersect. For me, it’s a reminder that I’m not alone in dealing with disappointment and the trap of myopic perspective where success and failure are concerned. Leila is charming and sparkly, and it was great catching up with her. Thanks for listening- enjoy!
Stage director Trevore Ross came by the studio today. We talked about growing up in South Carolina and his journey from pianist to stage director and how he settled in Los Angeles. He offers up poignant ideas about life, love and work, and I really found this interview to be easy. Trevore is a good talker, and I’d love to have him back on the show in the future. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy our chat!
Composer Jeff Beal is widely known for his work on such films as Blackfish, Appaloosa, and Pollock, and for his work in television- Monk, Carnivàle, Rome, and the current HBO hit, House Of Cards. Jeff is a generous, magnanimous fellow, and one hell of a great musician and composer. He records his work in the living room of his expansive, comfortable, tuscan-style villa in Agoura Hills, and mixes/masters/delivers it all from home. It’s a pretty sweet setup. Jeff is also scheduling more live performances, one of which I saw the terrific premier of late last year, entitled, “The Salvage Men”. Jeff’s upcoming engagements include “Blackfish Live” at the Hollywood Bowl (7/1/16) and a reprise of “The Salvage Men” later this year, in London, England, which is being conducted by our pal, Eric Whitacre. I hope you enjoy our chat, and thanks again for listening to Living With A Genius with yours, truly: Omar Crook.
On this episode, I interview Bradon McDonald of Project Runway fame. We also discuss his time with the Mark Morris Dance Group, growing up in a crowded house, getting out of a small town to eventually become one of the country’s premier dancers and fashion designers. Our chat is a study in passion, perseverance and dedication- things that I wish I had more of , at least compared to Bradon. My thanks goes out to Josh Winograde for facilitating our meeting- enjoy!
Conductor Christopher Allen became a friend of mine through this interview, I can safely say. We got on so well, we’re getting together outside of work, now. It’s one of the best things about this podcast for me- meeting people I connect with. Despite my outgoing personality, I’m prone to melancholy and sometimes, meeting people can be hard. Anyway, Chris offers a lot of insight into the behind-the-scenes part of classical music, and I hope you like hearing it as much as I liked producing it. Thanks for listening!
Pianist, composer, arranger, orchestrator and friend: Georgia Stitt. What can I say- she does it all. Oh, and she juggles a busy home life with Jason Robert Brown and their two beautiful daughters- I swear, my guests usually give me a deep, lingering inferiority complex, but whatever. Georgia is a delight, and I’m so flattered she decided to come over for some lemonade and a chat- Enjoy!
Joshua Winograde is the Senior Director of Artistic Planning at the Los Angeles Opera. In other words, he helps decide (along with Christopher Koelsch, Placido Domingo and James Conlon) on the singers who get hired to sing at the LA Opera. I had a real interest in sitting down with Josh, particularly because after 25+ years as a classical singer, I’ve never really known how things work behind the scenes at a major opera company- I bet you don’t, either. I hope you find what Josh had to say as interesting as I did.
Adriana Manfredi is a great friend of mine from Los Angeles. She sings all over the place- LA Opera, LA Master Chorale, Long Beach Camerata… and I guarantee you’ve heard her voice on your favorite movies. The interview itself is a departure from any interview style in that it is truly a conversation between friends. You may find it interesting if you grew up in Costa Mesa, Newport or Irvine, or had an affinity for Lion Country Safari, I guess. Anyway, it’s a bonus, so cut me some slack.
Polymath Charles Anthony Silvestri is a poet, historian, professor and painter. Oh, and he plays and dances traditional Irish music. And he has a PHD. I honestly don’t know what he’s doing hanging out with the likes of me, but I’m sure glad I have him fooled, somehow. Tony is a wonderful guy, too, and I was honored to chat with him. I greatly admire his fortitude, candor, and humor, and I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Robert (Rob) Istad is one of my favorite folks. We were housemates in college… I can still remember his audition at CSUF, and boy, has he come up the ranks. He is the current head of choral studies at Cal State Fullerton, Artistic Director of the Long Beach Camerata Singers, and soon-to-be Artistic Director of the venerable Pacific Chorale. All that being said, as you’ll hear in my intro, I wanted to hear stories. Stories that have nothing to do with his life in music, but the stories that split my gut way back when. You can Google his name for all that other stuff. Enjoy.
Like many of my guests, I met John Holiday at LA Opera. We happened to be staged together, and every night we’d exchange pleasantries before the curtain rose. We hit it off and managed to keep in touch here and there, mostly through Facebook. I greatly admire his talent, work ethic and attitude, but mostly, he’s an easygoing and very decent human being. Enjoy.
Hila Plitmann is a Grammy award-winning soprano, and one of my closest friends. Full disclosure: she’s married to Eric Whitacre, who is also one of my closest friends. She and I have a lot in common, but she’s just a lot more interesting. A great thinker, shrouded in modesty- she’s truly one-of-a-kind, as far as I’m concerned. I hope you enjoy our chat, because I’m sure there are many more to come.
What can I say, I messaged Ben about being on this brand-new, nothing-yet podcast and he basically came right over. That’s the kind of guy he is. A supportive colleague, funny, kind and an amazingly hard-working and talented guy. That’s Ben Bliss, and I was so happy to get the chance to chat and get to know this fine, gentleman-singer.
Eric Whitacre is one of my oldest friends, so why not give it a shot with him early on? It was his idea, anyway. All the things you hear about him are true- he’s a sweet guy, for real. He’s super-smart, interesting, funny, candid and an extraordinarily considerate friend. And handsome. Eric is really, really fucking handsome. I suspect he’ll be a returning guest, especially if it’s an excuse for us to hang out in the middle of the day again.
For my pilot episode, I picked James Martin Schaefer. I’ve known Marty for twenty years and we’ve been through a lot together. We both perform regularly at the Los Angeles Opera Company as soloists and choristers. This was my first-ever in preparation for this podcast series, so it’s weird and sometimes not-so-great. I’m posting it anyway.