Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with David Powell, February 13, 2021

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:01 - Introduction / Early education

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Partial Transcript: Okay. We're starting now.

Segment Synopsis: David Powell, an employee at the University of Kentucky, details his current role at the university. Additionally, he discusses his early educational career and interests in music.

Keywords: Auditions; Bands; Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra (CKYO); George Rogers Clark High School; High school bands; Kentucky; Mothers; Musical instruments; Oboe lessons; Orchestras; Organ lessons; Piano lessons; Winchester (Ky.)

Subjects: Band.; Childhood; Education.; Instruments; Kentucky.; Music.; Musicians; Oboe; Orchestra.; Organ; Organ & brass music series; Piano.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Libraries

00:02:21 - Secondary education / Master's degree

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Partial Transcript: And so, when I went to the University of Kentucky, I had already started taking oboe lessons with the, um, professor at UK, I guess when I was still in high school for a year or two.

Segment Synopsis: Powell discusses the oboe lessons he took in high school, as well as the musicals he assisted with. Powell also details moving to New York to complete a master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music.

Keywords: Arts; Bands; English horn; Graduate schools; Higher education; Master's degrees; Musical ensembles; Musical instruments; New York City (N.Y.); New York Philharmonic; Oboe lessons; Orchestras; Sara Holroyd; Singing; Theater

Subjects: Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education.; Manhattan School of Music (New York, N.Y.); Music education; Music.; Musicians; Orchestra.; Performing art.; Travel.; University of Kentucky

00:04:43 - Career in Italy and Mexico

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Partial Transcript: When I finished school, I moved back to Kentucky briefly.

Segment Synopsis: Powell discusses his orchestral career in Italy and Mexico after graduating from the Manhattan School of Music.

Keywords: Careers; Contracts; Earthquakes; Education; Europe; Expectations; Lexington Country Club; Mexico City (Mexico); Mexico City Philharmonic; Music careers; Musical instruments; Orchestras; Performing; Professional musicians; Vocal competitions

Subjects: Careers.; Italy.; Kentucky.; Manhattan School of Music (New York, N.Y.); Mexico; Music.; Musicians; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Professions.; Travel.; Vocation.; Work.

00:07:25 - Returning to New York / Career in Spain / Beginning of his Broadway career

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Partial Transcript: A little over a year, I thought it was a wonderful time to, to get back to New York.

Segment Synopsis: Powell describes returning to New York after living in Mexico. Soon after, he moved to Spain for work. Powell also details working as a substitute on Broadway.

Keywords: Aida (Musical); Beaches; Broadway; Broadway (New York, N.Y.); Broadway Orchestra; Careers; Education; Fears; High level work; Instruments; Jekyll and Hyde (Musical); Jobs; Learning; Les Miserables (Musical); Lisbon; Mexico; New York City (N.Y.); Professional musicians; Restaurants; Servers; Sondheim revue; Subbing; Substitutes; Teaching; The King and I (Musical); The Scarlet Pimpernel (Musical); Titanic (Musical); Waiters

Subjects: Careers.; Hammerstein, Oscar, II, 1895-1960. King and I; John, Elton. Aida; Music.; Musicians; New York; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Professions.; SchoĢˆnberg, Claude-Michel. MiseĢrables; Spain; Travel.; Vocation.; Wildhorn, Frank. Jekyll & Hyde; Wildhorn, Frank. Scarlet Pimpernel. Selections; Work.; Yeston, Maury. Titanic

00:12:14 - Jobs and income in his early career

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Partial Transcript: Most of my income was probably from playing the oboe, eventually.

Segment Synopsis: Powell describes the cost of living compared to the amount of income he was making at the start of his career. He details the ways in which he made money other than through music.

Keywords: Careers; Choral groups; Cost of living; Cost-of-living adjustments; Europe; Expenses; Experience; Italy; Jobs; Orchestras; Reeds; Salary; Tour companies; Travel; Travel abroad; Trips

Subjects: Careers.; Cost and standard of living.; Food.; Housing.; Income.; Money.; Music.; Musicians; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Professions.; Rent; Vocation.; Work.

00:15:46 - Career in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

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Partial Transcript: And then I had an opportunity to go to Germany.

Segment Synopsis: Powell details his orchestral career in Europe, specifically the time he spent between Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Keywords: Art museums; Berlin (Germany); Cold; Enrichment; Musical instruments; Musicals; Opportunities; Orchestras; Touring; Tours; Weather

Subjects: Austria.; Careers.; Europe.; Germany.; Instruments; Music.; Musicians; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Professions.; Switzerland.; Travel.; Vocation.; Work.

00:17:37 - Returning to New York / Impact of 9/11 / Moving back to Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So, when I went back to New York, I continued to work with the tour company.

Segment Synopsis: Powell describes returning back to New York for work. He details how impactful 9/11 was in the city and how it changed his perspective. Powell then describes returning back to Kentucky to be with his family.

Keywords: 9/11 attacks; 9/11/2001; Broadway; Broadway (New York, N.Y.); Changes; Family; Gigs; Leaving; New Jersey Symphony; New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; New York City (N.Y.); Opportunities; Orchestras; Parents; Shock; Subbing; Substitutes; Tour companies

Subjects: 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001; 9/11 terrorist attacks; Careers.; Families.; Kentucky.; Musicians; New Jersey; New York; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Professions.; September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001.; Vocation.; Work.

00:20:07 - Lexington Philharmonic / Reflections on career / Teaching music / Kentucky Bach Choir

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Partial Transcript: When I came back to Kentucky, um, in 2003, is when I started working, uh, for a library supply company.

Segment Synopsis: Powell shares about returning to Kentucky. In 2003, he began working with a library supply company. Additionally, Powell reflects on his career teaching students music. He details working with the Lexington Philharmonic and Kentucky Bach Choir.

Keywords: Auditions; Impact; Income; Influence; Kentucky Bach Choir; Lexington Philharmonic; Library supply company; Making a living; Music career; Music lessons; Music students; Musical instruments; Orchestra; Principal oboe; Scholarships; Subbing; Substitutes

Subjects: Careers.; Instruments; Kentucky.; Music education; Music.; Musicians; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Professions.; Teachers; Teaching; Vocation.; Work.

00:24:25 - Economic comparison of orchestral work and working at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So you were--would it be fair to say that you were making an equal amount, uh, from your day job at the library and, uh, your orchestral music gigs?

Segment Synopsis: Powell talks about how working at the University of Kentucky compares to the income he made while working fully in orchestral jobs.

Keywords: Economy; Income; Insurance; Jobs; Kentucky Bach Choir; Lexington Philharmonic; Making a living; Music career; Music lessons; Music students; Orchestras; Retirement benefits

Subjects: Careers.; Economics.; Kentucky.; Money.; Music education; Music.; Musicians; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Professions.; Teachers; Teaching; University of Kentucky; Vocation.; Work.

00:25:58 - Virtual teaching during COVID-19 pandemic / Benefits of working at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, has it been--well, I suppose it goes without saying that it's been difficult for you.

Segment Synopsis: Powell details what he finds are the benefits of working at the University of Kentucky, especially as a staff member rather than a faculty member. He describes the challenges of teaching music to students virtually as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: Berkshire Symphony; Concerns; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Economics; Enrollment; Faculty; Finances; Flexibility; Gigs; Hourly employees; Income; Jobs; Kentucky Bach Choir; Making a living; Music careers; Music lessons; Music students; Oboe lessons; Pandemics; Parents; Reduction; Reeds; Remote learning; Remote teaching; Rhythm; Salary; Schedules; Sisters; Staff; Virtual education; Virtual teaching; Worry

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Careers.; Children.; Music education; Music.; Musicians; Occupations.; Professions.; Teachers; Teaching; University of Kentucky; Vocation.; Work.

00:34:04 - The Lexington Philharmonic / Funding for orchestras

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Partial Transcript: So, let's talk about, um, the Philharmonic for a second.

Segment Synopsis: Powell talks about the Lexington Philharmonic, specifically about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and funding. Powell also shares about the Philharmonic's search for a conductor.

Keywords: Benefactors; Candidates; Chicago Symphony Orchestra.; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Conductor search; Conductors; Contracts; Contributions; Contributors; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Donations; Donors; Funding; Kelly Corcoran; Lexington Philharmonic; Living culture; Musical instruments; New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; Orchestras; Pandemics; Quality; Sarah Thrall; Suspended operations; Talent; Ticket sales; Toyota Motor Corporation; Travel; Vaccinations

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Culture.; Finance; Kentucky.; Lexington (Ky.); Music.; Musicians; Orchestra.

00:42:17 - Cultural differences amongst orchestras around the world

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Partial Transcript: Talk to me a little bit more ab--I mean, uh, I'm circling back around here a little bit.

Segment Synopsis: Powell describes the differences between playing in different orchestras, and playing for an American audience versus playing for a European audience.

Keywords: American culture; American music; American orchestras; Audiences; Cultures; English horn; European culture; European orchestras; Glissandos; Homogeneity; Mexican orchestras; Mexico City Philharmonic; Musical instruments; Orchestras; Performance; Porgy and Bess (Opera); Similarities; Subtle differences

Subjects: Culture.; Gershwin, George, 1898-1937. Porgy and Bess; Music.; Musicians; Orchestra.; Performing art.; Travel.

00:46:00 - Kentucky Bach Choir / Traveling for orchestral work

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Partial Transcript: So talk to me about, um, about the Bach Choir. Um, are--how is, how is the Bach Choir, um, musicians put together?

Segment Synopsis: Powell shares information about the Kentucky Bach Choir, including how it works, events, and how to be selected to perform at orchestral jobs. Powell also talks about how far he will travel for work. He talks about how many gigs he played per year before COVID.

Keywords: Cincinnati (Ohio); Contacts; Distance; Events; First Presbyterian Church of Lexington, Kentucky; Gigs; Hiring; Indianapolis (Ind.); Job opportunities; Kentucky Bach Choir; Louisville (Ky.); Mannheim Steamroller; Marlon Hurst; Music ensembles; Musical instruments; Networking; Networks; Orchestras; Performance; Personal connections; Recommendations; Scheduling; Weather

Subjects: Careers.; Kentucky.; Lexington (Ky.); Music.; Musicians; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Performing art.; Professions.; Travel.; Vocation.; Work.

00:51:43 - Reflections on working on Broadway

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Partial Transcript: Did you like doing Broadway?

Segment Synopsis: Powell talks about whether he liked working on Broadway. Powell provides stories about his time working on Broadway in New York.

Keywords: Attitudes; Broadway; Broadway (New York, N.Y.); Broadway Orchestra; Challenges; Difficulties; Factions; Motivations; Musical instruments; Musicals; New York City (N.Y.); Orchestra pits; Orchestras; Pages; Power dynamics; Sabotage; Sheet music; Subbing; Substitutes

Subjects: Careers.; Music.; Musicians; New York; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Performing art.; Professions.; Vocation.; Work.

00:54:54 - Making of reeds for instruments

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, I want to circle back now to you're making reeds?

Segment Synopsis: Powell discusses how he initially began making reeds for instruments. Powell describes how he makes the reeds and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on supplies.

Keywords: Altitude; Arundo donax; Cane; Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra (CKYO); Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Costs; Expenses; Jerry Sirucek; Manufacturing; Music camps; Music lessons; Music students; Musical instruments; Oboe reeds; Pandemics; Processing; Reeds; Self-made; Sound; Supplies; Supply issues; Weather

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Childhood; Music education; Music.; Musicians; Oboe; Orchestra.; Organ & brass music series

01:00:32 - Possibility of relocating

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Partial Transcript: Uh, let's talk now about, um, you were thinking of going to the West Coast.

Segment Synopsis: Powell goes more in depth about his consideration to relocate either back to New York or to the West Coast.

Keywords: Attitudes; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Decisions; Fears; Job opportunities; Moving; Music ensembles; Musical instruments; New York; Orchestras; Out-migration; Pandemics; Property values; Relocating; West Coast

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Careers.; Music.; Musicians; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Performance.; Professions.; Travel.; Vocation.; Work.

01:04:38 - Future of the music industry after COVID-19

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Partial Transcript: Well, but you mentioned something, um, that I wanted to ask you about next and that is, you know, someday, we don't know when yet...

Segment Synopsis: Powell talks about what he thinks the music business will look like after the world recovers from COVID-19.

Keywords: Arts; Changes; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Coronavirus research; Differences; Different; Vaccinations; Vaccines

Subjects: Art.; COVID-19 (Disease); Music.; Musicians; Orchestra.; Performance.

01:07:14 - Orchestral work around the world during COVID-19 pandemic

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Partial Transcript: You've got friends all over the world who are also players. Are you getting any sense from them how their lives are going in these other countries?

Segment Synopsis: Powell talks about how orchestras around the world are handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: Berlin (Germany); Concerts; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Hiatus; Income; Job opportunities; Jobs; Lexington Philharmonic; Metropolitan Opera; Music lessons; Payment; Philadelphia Orchestra; Salaries; Salary; Social distancing; Spain; Teaching music

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Careers.; Music.; Musicians; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Performance.; Professions.; Teachers; Teaching; Vocation.; Work.

01:09:55 - Life during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Partial Transcript: Is there anything or any way that you have been affected emotionally, spiritually, financially, um, by the Corona pandemic that we haven't talked about?

Segment Synopsis: Powell talks about using gardening as his outlet for art during the pandemic. He talks about feeling fortunate to have a steady job during the pandemic and how he stays in touch with people. He talks about when his first live gig since the pandemic may occur. He talks about maintaining his music skills. Interviewer Kopana Terry talks about her future plans for this oral history project.

Keywords: Arts; Broadway; Broadway (New York, N.Y.); Broadway Orchestra; Concerts; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Gardening; Gardens; Gigs; Human connections; Income; Isolation; Meetings; Picnic with the Pops; Practice (Music); Practicing (Music); Zoom (Video teleconferencing software)

Subjects: Art.; COVID-19 (Disease); Careers.; Music.; Musicians; Occupations.; Orchestra.; Performance.; Professions.; Recreation; Vocation.; Work.