Part Two of our Behind Our Blog Team series! For today's entry, I interviewed the newest addition to our blog team Lee Anne Myslewski, Administrative Director, Wolf Trap Opera and Classical Programming.
Where are you from?
I'm a Pennsylvania girl!
I did most of my growing up in an idyllic small town in Bradford County, nestled between the Susquehanna and Chemung Rivers. It was the very best small-town upbringing: beautiful rolling hills and rivers, packs of neighborhood kids playing in treehouses, saving hard-earned allowance money to play pinball and buy candy at Covey's, or to get a raspberry twist ice-cream cone at Millard's Dairy.
In high school we moved to western PA, to a college town called Slippery Rock. I found a fantastic piano teacher, a kickin' alternative radio station and started to really get into playing and performing while in high school.
What is your favorite Wolf Trap memory?
Totally unfair question – there are too many.
I think it was Ben Folds' performance, when he divided the audience to sing the brass parts of "Army." I loved sitting on the lawn amidst friends and strangers, swaying and singing along with one of my favorite artists. It felt like one big happy community…in fact, heaven might in fact feel like that very night.
What is your favorite song now or of all time? What speaks more strongly to you the music or the lyrics?
Again, a totally unfair question. One song that I have loved consistently since it came out was Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" - something about the lyrics, his gravelly voice, the drumming, has made this a tune that makes me happy on a regular basis.
Do you have a musical guilty pleasure – something you don’t admit to liking in casual conversation?
I may in fact be the only person who wonders (with genuine sadness) what ever happened to Air Supply.
How do you consume recorded music? i.e. ipod, Spotify, Pandora, vinyl...
Pandora. Spotify. Car radio. iPod. Phone. Web. I appreciate vinyl, but don't have any. I do still have a largely sentimental CD collection that I just can't quite part with, but it seems to get smaller each year.
If you hosted a dinner party and your guest list was restricted to 8 current or past Wolf Trap performers, who would you invite and why?
1. Ben Folds. Because I am a fan – and because maybe after a glass of wine I'd be able to get over the fact that BEN FOLDS WAS AT MY DINNER PARTY and actually be able to have a conversation with him.
2. Beverly Sills. The Grand Dame of City Opera! Plus, I have questions about some of her roles and casts…and I would LOVE to hear some backstage dish!
3. Ella Fitzgerald. One of my favorite tracks is her Berlin recording of Mack the Knife – when she forgets ALL THE WORDS, and still turns in an amazing performance.
4. Norah Jones.
5. Pink Martini. I'm a big fan of their retro-jazz polyglot recordings, and I think they sound even better in person. I'd love to get some inside scoop on their own pet projects, as well as inspiration for their next projects.
6. Guster. Their song "Either Way" saved my life when I was trying to circumnavigate the Beltway in the middle of a snowstorm after a late rehearsal. I'd love the chance to say "thank you" in person.
7. Jessye Norman. I saw her in a small hall in Pittsburgh, and her stage presence totally dwarfed the stage. I swear she was 17 feet tall! I would love to know if that presence is a constant, or if there's an on/off switch.
8. Air Supply. (See above.)
What is your professional motto?
I don't know that I've ever put this into words…but I believe in honesty, transparency, and positivity; in cultivating a community that builds people up and frees them to make strong, smart choices; in doing my best work on every given day, but not beating myself or anyone else up when their best days fall short.
What is the greatest pleasure in doing what you do?
Greatest pleasure is undoubtedly seeing the progress and pride on the faces of the young artists who work for the opera company…and seeing so many of them create successful careers out of whole cloth.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
From my dad: be honest and kind, and always give someone the benefit of the doubt.
If you were suddenly famous, what would you want to be famous for?
Actually, I don't really want to be famous. But if I could do something bigger-than-life and amazing, I'd love to be a big-money anonymous philanthropist. I've always dreamed of starting an artist colony for performers, and in many ways that's one of my big attractions to Wolf Trap; but to be able to give financial help and support to people whose work I admire without them knowing the where or how of it? Well, that sounds totally divine.