Tedrin Blair Lindsay often plays in the background in his role as a vocal coach with the University of Kentucky’s voice program. But audiences are seeing him centerstage more and more often with his popular opera lectures, solo performances including annual star turns at Grand Night for Singing concerts and now his new album, Tedrin, a collection of solo piano performances.
In between all of that, he sometimes manages to squeeze in concert reviews for the Herald-Leader. Fresh off a European tour with the American Spiritual Ensemble, we batted a few questions by Lindsay.
Q: UK describes you as a musicologist and vocal coach. What do those jobs entail?
A: My doctorate is in musicology, which is a fancy word for music history, in which my area of expertise is American opera and American musical theater. A vocal coach works with singers on musical considerations such as style and interpretation, and on linguistic considerations such as diction and pronunciation. I also work on dramatic presentation, as that is one of my specialties, and I enjoy most of all collaborating with our talented students and faculty in numerous recitals and performances.
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Q: A lot of your piano playing is accompanying singers and other instrumentalists. How has that kind of playing influenced your overall musicianship?
A: I love the dialogue that ensues from musical collaboration. It is fun for me to figure out whether my piano part is setting a mood, portraying a character, complementing or supplementing the other voices, and so forth. I participate in the music-making to such a degree that my collaborators usually feel that I am their partner, not just a mere accompanist.
Q: How did you select the compositions on your CD, Tedrin?
A: My CD was a joyous labor of love. Basically, I selected a wide stylistic range of my “greatest hits,” those go-to pieces that I perform so often that people request them. Of course, these are all my original arrangements, extremely virtuosic and dramatic, with a generous amount of wit. I’m nothing if not over-the-top.
Q: What was it like recording, as opposed to live performance?
A: Recording is much more exacting and less forgiving than a live performance because you have to live forever with the results. My recording engineer, Alex Lusht, is a genius and an artist, and made me sound so amazing. As I played for the microphones, I tried to imagine an audience of all the people who would enjoy this recording for years to come, and make it as fantastically expressive as I could just for them.
Q: Your piano solos have become an annual highlight at Grand Night for Singing. How do you come up with these spectacles? Any hints to what’s coming this year?
A: I spend the whole year trying to come up with something that can out-do whatever last year’s was. I try to choose songs that people can recognize without the words and that are meaningful to people on some level, and then I go nuts making it both as beautiful and bombastic as possible. It’s deeply gratifying to me that people enjoy my “piano spectaculars” for Grand Night, and so I take it very seriously. I have several ideas for this year, but right now I’m leaning toward orchestrating my Irving Berlin medley and doing that. Isn’t Alexander’s Ragtime Band the perfect way to start Act 2 of Grand Night?
Lindsay’s album, Tedrin, may be ordered from Cdbaby.com/tedrinblairlindsay, or by sending a check for $15 per CD, plus $2.50 shipping and handling, to Liberal Art Productions, 1109 Dunbarton Lane, Lexington, Ky. 40502.
Three Questions is Five Questions online. Go to LexGo.com for more with Tedrin Blair Lindsay.