Deb Brown, the director of Whatcom Chorale, is described by Jeff Margolis, a longtime singer with the ensemble, as a “coach with split-second timing.”
“It’s like watching football to see who has the ball, letting the section that ‘has the ball’ carry the melody,” he says. “It’s all about precision, balance and timing.”
The analogy is apt; Brown is also a tennis pro, where she can perfect her “precision, balance and timing.”
Brown will direct the chorale Sunday, Dec. 14, at Western Washington University’s Performing Arts Center, where they will perform about 70 percent of Handel’s traditional holiday oratorio, “The Messiah,” a piece with plenty of sectional highlights.
Here’s more about Brown, who was born in Farmington, N.M., on the Navajo Indian reservation where her parents ran the trading post.
These rich early opportunities led to my current multifaceted work; artistic director and conductor for Whatcom Chorale, minister of music at First Congregational Church of Bellingham, private music instructor, and tennis pro at Bellingham Tennis Club.
I am truly blessed to follow my passions in my employment.
I’m an “anteater” from the University of California at Irvine, with additional studies at University of Southern California at Los Angeles and California State University at Fullerton, and also at the Music Academy of the West and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.
While studying in Graz, my tennis proved to be very helpful. My German professor was an avid tennis player, and every day after German class we would go to the beautiful red clay court inside the walls of his friend’s factory and play tennis. So both my tennis and German received extra practice.
Teachers who inspired my path as a singer and conductor include my childhood church choir director, who discovered my perfect pitch (inherited from my grandfather, whom I never met); my high school choir teacher, who encouraged me to conduct the chamber choir; and my opera coach, who helped me find courage on stage by fully inhabiting the operatic characters I was so fortunate to portray.
One of our volunteers, Rocky Champagne, our concert manager, works wonders managing the concert setting, risers, chairs, music stands, podiums, etc., our 100 singers, and countless logistical details. Perhaps his prior career with the Washington State Patrol prepared him well for these challenges.
And there’s the joy of sharing with our community tremendous choral works, combining wonderful texts with inspiring music that touches us in profound ways beyond description.