Behind the Scenes with Brandon Straub
Associate Conductor and Pianist at Choral Arts
As the the leader of the Choral Arts Youth Choir and the Director of Choral Music & Chair of Music at St. Albans School and the National Cathedral School, Brandon Straub is a dedicated educator, bringing out the best in every young musician that sings under his baton.
Choral Arts: We are so grateful to have you as a staff member with Choral Arts. Can you describe the many hats you wear with us?
Brandon Straub: Now in my ninth season as Associate Conductor and Pianist at Choral Arts, I have had the pleasure of supporting Scott Tucker, the chorus, and the staff in a variety of ways, from accompanying rehearsals at the keyboard to arranging music to leading choruses in performances. I have played a significant role in preparing Choral Arts choruses for collaborations involving a growing list of world-class ensembles, conductors, and venues. Founding the Youth Choir has been one of the most rewarding and joyful aspects of my time with the organization. As a singer, keyboardist, string player, and conductor, I feel especially fortunate to have the opportunity to work regularly with so many singers and instrumentalists in these roles at Choral Arts.
Choral Arts: Have you experienced moments of connection or transformation through music?
Brandon Straub: A recent moment that comes to mind was my first encounter with Max Richter’s Recomposed: Vivaldi – The Four Seasons. As a huge fan of Baroque music (and harpsichordist!), I find it fascinating to imagine the impact that musical sounds had on those who were hearing new sounds like polyphony for the first time. As composers were experimenting with techniques and codifying rules about harmony and counterpoint, the most ground-breaking musical innovations would likely have sounded tame to our modern ears. Studying early music has changed the way I approach everything composed since, and I often find myself drawn to the fusion of old and new or a new take on something old. In choral music, a well-crafted arrangement of a folk tune, traditional carol, or hymn, for example, can be a powerful statement. Max Richter’s take on this beloved set of concerti not only had a profound impact on me but left me excited to revisit Vivaldi’s original work with new ears.
Choral Arts: What upcoming project(s) are you most looking forward to?
Brandon Straub: As we move closer to making music in person again, I look forward to expanding and developing the Youth Choir and our educational work as we continue to grow our roster, explore a variety of repertoire, and engage in new collaborations with other DC area youth ensembles. I was inspired to found the Youth Choir by a vision to create opportunities for our most dedicated and curious young musicians to connect with students from other schools and develop their choral skills at a high level. While the timeline for returning to in-person performance is still unclear, I know the students are hungry for this, and I’m eager to continue broadening our reach and building relationships with other students and programs across the DC metro area.
Virtual Subscriber Experience
Composer and professor Dr. Chen Yi joins Choral Arts Artistic Director, Scott Tucker for an online conversation.
Chen Yi, composer
Scott Tucker, artistic director