Tell me a little bit more about your first taste of opera. I hear a pig may have been involved.
You’re a former college basketball star! Any idea how we could get more sports fans to bring their passionate selves to the opera? In general, how can we cultivate new audiences for our art?
|While earning his BA in music at Grinnell College, Nick scored over 1,000 points as a member of the highest scoring team in college basketball history!|
Sports are also universal and accessible in such a way that barriers to entry are almost non-existent. Opera exists on almost the opposite end of the spectrum. I’ve never been to a Storm game, but I bet I know what I should wear, how much money I should bring, and how and when to cheer when I do go. Opera can be made more accessible by connecting it to experiences with which people are already familiar, taking it out of the concert hall venue, eliminating the language barrier when appropriate, and, of course, providing good education to make it meaningful to all comers.
|Nick singing the role of Giuseppe in La Traviata.|
You earned your BA in music and then went to The New School's Mannes College of Music for your Master's in Voice. How did you discover your passion for singing?
I taught students from the poorest county in one of the poorest states in the country. The school in which I taught had precisely zero students score at least proficient on the state exam the year before I arrived. The cards were stacked against my students. The hardest thing, though, was the feeling that, for the first six months, I was failing my students. We had so much catching up to do and I felt like I was barely treading water. Once I eventually developed the skills I needed to be an effective teacher, my students began to achieve great things. I taught second grade that first year – and I’m so proud of the fact that those second graders will graduate from high school this spring, many of them with multiple college acceptances.
What was your proudest accomplishment during your time at KIPP Delta Public Schools?
This is easy. My proudest accomplishment was having my elementary choir accepted to perform at Walt Disney World and then raising the money over an entire year to make it happen. We subsidized the entire trip for 34 students, many of whom had never been further than an hour from home.
|Nick and his wife Julia on their wedding day.|
Playing some of Seattle’s incredible golf courses. No, I do love golf, but I’m more excited about what I already notice is happening in my brain. I wake up thinking about Tosca – and not just hearing and analyzing the music, but wondering, “How can I teach this? How can I make people care about this?” In order to truly care about learning something, a person needs to believe three key messages: 1. You can do this. 2. This is important. 3. I’m here to help. I cannot wait to make people believe that they can appreciate and understand opera, that it is an important art form for their life and time, and that I will do whatever it takes to help them love opera as much as I do.