By Candace Sindelman
The tenor soloist and cantor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Director of Music at Saint Brigid Catholic School will be singing this Sunday Mass at the Old Whalers’ Church in Sag Harbor.
How did you first get into music?
Actually in high school when we had first moved and my father started his job in a brand new location. My parents were encouraging me to audition for the school musical and I was kind of mortified. I never sang in my life. I told them ‘I am not going to do this until you get me voice lessons.’ I got the lead in the school musical. After freshman year I was asked, ‘what do you want to do now?’ and I said ‘I don’t know, give me something.’ It was my first classical piece, and I just latched on to it and I loved it and everything spun from there.
Have you ever sung at the Old Whalers’ Church before?
I never have been to Sag Harbor or the Hamptons, so this is going to be a first for me. I met Pastor Philips a couple of years back, through the cathedral that I work at and we became friends. When he moved to New York, he invited me to come sing one day in the summer. I looked at the church online; it’s very beautiful and filled with history and I am very excited to be out here. It’s always nice to go to the beach in August.
Do you ever get nervous singing?
I think everybody gets nervous at some point and learn to overcome that. I am not usually nervous singing in a church atmosphere. I try not to focus on performing something for other people; I am performing something for God to help lift people up. I do get the same jitters every now and then and just find ways to deal with it.
What have you enjoyed about teaching music?
Teaching music is something I totally fell into when I was in school in college. I never thought of myself as a teacher, but when I was a senior in college I was a hired as an assistant director of the Cathedral of Saint Patrick Young Singers. I was responsible for teaching vocal technique and every now and then conducting. That same year we were invited to Vienna Voice Choir and by happenstance met the principal of the school in New York City. I was hired right away to teach at Saint Brigid Catholic School in lower Manhattan. I teach kindergarten through eighth grade; I teach a bunch of different things, vocal choirs, instrumental groups and English handbells. It’s been such a thrill to instill music and the kids are great. Teaching is not something I ever thought I would do, but is something I will never stop doing.
What has been the most rewarding part of performing in the church?
I grew up in the church. My father is a Lutheran minister in Pennsylvania. The church is basically my second home. My dad is a very inspirational person to me. Music is so essential to a church’s life. When people sing they are praying, when they are listening to music they are praying. I am so lucky to be involved in a bunch of different ways. I sing about 300 Masses a year. It’s not work at all, I love what I do and I feel so lucky to have it as my profession.