Interview with Kyle Conner, tenor II, Mendelssohn Club Chorus

Kyle ConnerHow did you hear about and join Mendelssohn Club?
I’ve known about MC for years and have gone to performances over that time period. I think the first I heard about MC was from Dave Simpson, a fellow poet, who was a long-standing member. The clincher for me was seeing the Anthracite Fields performance in 2014. I thought, here is a chorus that takes risks, performs new music, wants to thrill its audience. That’s for me!

Why DO you sing? Not just here, but anywhere?
It’s a language that I communicate in. Why do we communicate at all? To express ourselves. To get what we need. To interact with others. But I think that music is always a language of great joy, because it engages so much of the body, the breath, the senses. It elevates and exalts.

What’s the oddest or funniest thing that’s happened while you’ve been with MCC?
That would have to be singing in a small ensemble at the Rothman skating rink at City Hall last winter. Assistant Conductor Ryan Tibbets led the ensemble and we performed his arrangement of the 12 Days of Christmas, a really interesting arrangement. We arrived at about 7AM, and it was pretty chilly. We had festive scarves, caps, Mark Davidson showed up in his Cookie Monster pajamas and slippers! It was very festive, and we sang the piece several times while a local skating club of middle school girls performed a routine behind us.

What do you do when you’re not singing?
I am the Associate Director of the Office of Human Research at Thomas Jefferson Uni versity.

Do you have musical training? If so, how has this affected the non-musical parts of your life? If not, how do you embrace challenges like singing in German Latin, or approaching a commission like TURBINE?
I had classical training in flute and piano in my formative years and moved on to jazz piano and singing in high school. When you have any rigorous training of any kind, I think it affects the way you conduct your life, the way you perceive and think about things. In particular, as a poet, I have a strong musical sense of language, the consonances and assonances, the rhythms of speech. Sometimes I think about poems as musical pieces and this takes me in an interesting direction with the poem.