Professor has operatic hopes for future

Samantha Middendorf, Entertainment Editor

Eastern’s music department welcomed a new face to the Doudna Fine Arts Center with the hiring of a new voice faculty member this fall.

Timothy Renner is the director of Eastern’s University Mixed Choir, instructor for applied voice and director of the musical theatre and opera programs.

Renner said he is looking forward to the upcoming semester and performances that he is directing with the UMC and the production of this semester’s musical titled “Carnival.”

“A new choir director brings unique experiences, unique exposure to certain literature,” Renner said.

However, being a new director is not always simple.

Renner said there are many times that he has taken the role of recruiting more students to the music department.

For example, through the auditions for “Carnival,” Renner said he discovered many students he asked to join UMC.

“I’m always looking for new talent,” he said.  “If there’s anyone who shows unusual talent, then I’m always happy to tell them, because a lot of times they don’t know.  They like to sing, but a lot of times they don’t realize they can go further with it than they think.”

As the director of musical theatre and opera, Renner works with either the production of the semester’s musical or opera.

This semester the department will perform “Carnival.”

“I’ll hold music rehearsals for the first couple of weeks and then I assemble a pit orchestra,” Renner said.  “I work with the singers on primarily musical things, but also get into their acting as well within the songs.”

The relationship between the Renner and the director of “Carnival” is crucial to the success of the musical.

“You never want to step on anyone’s toes, and try to do their job for them,” Renner said.  “They don’t speak too much about the music and I don’t do anything with the blocking, so we contribute equally.”

Apart from Eastern’s music department, Renner also participates in productions at the University of Illinois.

“I perform primarily in operas, but I also do musical theatre,” Renner said. “My first musical performance was in ‘My Fair Lady’ at the U of I about two years ago. That was a new thing for me, but it opened up that world of Broadway musicals.”

Renner said these types performances gave him more experience that helps him with his directing.

“I think that every time you perform, you learn something new” he said. “Every time you learn an entire role, you sort of access more skills and abilities that you didn’t know you had, and that you develop, whether it’s humor or an ability to empathize with people.”

Renner is currently living in Urbana and completing his doctorate in voice performance at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

“I’m currently doing a role at the U of I called Dulcamara in ‘Elixir of Love,’ and that’s my fourth opera role at the U of I.”

“Elixir of Love” will be performed Nov. 6 through 9 at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois.  Renner will take the role of Dulcamara on Nov. 7 and 9.

At Eastern, Renner said he hopes to bring more productions to the department.

“The sky’s the limit as far as the future,” Renner said.  “I’d love to get to do more musicals as well as a bit of light opera, that would require a bigger orchestra and a big production.”

The University Mixed Choir will be performing at the annual Holiday Concert, which also features Eastern’s symphony orchestra and concert choir.

The Holiday Concert will be at 4 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Dvorak Concert Hall at the Doudna Fine Arts Center.  Concert tickets are $12 for the general public, $10 for Eastern employees and seniors and $5 for students.  Tickets can be bought at the Doudna box office.

Samantha Middendorf can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].