Making a career out of choir
Tim Pyper on the joys of musical performance, from age five to now
Tim Pyper, organ recitalist and choir director who is now the interim director of music at the Church of the Holy Apostles in New York City, says he really got a taste for a career in music during his time at Royal St. George’s College (RSGC).
“As a young person, sometimes you feel social pressures that you should be this or you should be that, but RSGC was an amazing environment in which I felt it was OK to be artistic,” he says.
Pyper says he’s loved music from as early as he can remember. He sang in a chorus as a child and got started with piano lessons when he was five. All of this, he says, was really encouraged at RSGC.
“Being at St. George’s gave me such an outlet for music and made me realize that, if I wanted it, it could be a career path for me,” says Pyper.
Pyper mentions Douglas Jamieson, who taught choral music at RSGC while Pyper was there and still does today, as someone who really encouraged him throughout his time in high school.
“When you are a young person seeing that there are adults in your life that are real mentors, who are teachers and very successful in the music field, I think that gives you something to strive for and that keeps you practising when you might otherwise make the choice to do something else with your time,” Pyper says.
After completing his time at RSGC, Pyper was accepted into the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., and earned both his bachelor of music and master’s degree there in organ performance.
Staying stateside, he went on to earn his doctor of musical arts from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
“That was the hybrid degree, a hybrid between performance and history, and, so by studying historical styles of the past, it helps me to better interpret music that I play today,” Pyper says of his doctorate.
Although Pyper has performed countless organ recitals, some of which have been aired by the CBC, he says playing the organ can be quite solitary.
To contrast that, Pyper took on roles in choir performance, becoming a director of music at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary from 2010 to 2015. There he led the choir in two CD recordings that were nationally broadcast, and in 2013 the choir spent a week as the choir-inresidence at Exeter Cathedral in the U.K.
He has held his current role at the Church of the Holy Apostles since 2017.
“[Choir] is a great way to build community. It’s a great way to socialize and make music together,” Pyper says. “On a very primal level, you’re sort of vibrating together, resonating with each other.”
He says directing choirs has helped to continue his passion for music and performance, in particular the rehearsal process.
“It is about the performance, but it’s also about the journey of getting there, and I think that’s what makes me really excited to still be making a career out of music,” says Pyper.
Of all the notable moments in his career, Pyper’s most memorable performance was touring with his choir from Calgary and conducting them in the U.K.
“But I try to enjoy the moments every day and make a highlight out of every time I have the privilege of making music with people,” he says.
Next up, Pyper is looking forward to a recital he’ll be performing at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City in February 2019.
Pyper is the interim director of music at the Church of the Holy Apostles