Photo courtesy The Mississippi Opera
Photo by The Mississippi Opera
Mississippi Opera Chorusmaster Andrew Head likes that opera involves so many elements: singing technique, learning new languages, staging and an orchestra, among other elements.
“It’s one of those art forms that really involves all the things,” he says. “There was always something new and interesting to work on all the time, and I think that is really what appeals to me about it. Somehow, miraculously, it all comes together into a show at the end, even though there’s so many disparate parts.”
At first, when the Muscle Shoals, Ala., native began college at the University of Alabama, he was a French horn major. Head had always been involved in music in some way from his father, Bob Head, directing the choir at a local community college to being in band in high school to singing in church. After starting college, he began taking voice lessons. His teachers then encouraged him to pursue vocal performance.
He received his bachelor’s degree in vocal performance in 2006 and then his master’s degree in the subject in 2010, both from the University of Alabama. Head also began working as a freelance opera singer in 2008. Over the years, he has played 25 roles, both full and partial ones.
He worked as a digital archivist for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt from September 2011 to July 2016 before moving to Jackson to serve as the choir director and a voice instructor for Hinds Community College in Raymond. He teaches the school’s collegiate choir and Harmony, a smaller ensemble, and is also an administrator for the choir program.
In September of this year, the Mississippi Opera announced Head as its new chorusmaster, beginning with the 2018-2019 season.
“I was very excited to take the position because it very nicely combined (my) experiences as a singer and all that training with my experience as a choral conductor,” he says. “I’ve been wanting to get back and involved with the art form for quite some time.”
Head says seeing an opera is like going to see a movie that is sung.
“You’re watching a story unfold,” he says. “A lot of people, I am often very surprised to learn, don’t realize that it’s actually a play that is sung. ... Most of the people who say that they don’t like opera have never been to one.”
The Mississippi Opera’s next major event will be the annual John Alexander Vocal Competition Awards Concert at Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave.) on Monday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m. The concert will showcase the top six musical-theater and opera singers from this year’s competition. The doors open at 6 p.m., and admission is $25 per person.
The 2018-2019 season will also features performances of operas such as “La Bohéme” and “Amahl & the Night Visitors,” as well as the “Cabaret at Duling Hall” series, including “The Hilarious World of Gilbert & Sullivan” on Nov. 10.
For more information, visit msopera.org.