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Laurie Rogers

How would you describe your music?

Opera repertoire, from classical to contemporary, world premieres - just finished preparing Jake Heggie's MOBY-DICK, which premiered in Dallas this past weekend. Also work in vocal and instrumental classical recital and concert repertoire.

What is your role in your band? In the studio? In business or marketing decisions?

No band or studio. For years I also worked in administration, identifying emerging young singer talent and assisting in casting and season planning, as well as assembling estimates of future seasonal needs. I coach singers, accompany rehearsals, take notes at orchestra sessions, play in the orchestra pit, conduct backstage and cover the conductor in case of illness. I accompany recitals and auditions.

Describe your gear.

Gear? I'm a professional pianist, working with national opera companies as an assistant conductor preparing opera productions and coaching singers. Gear is piano, music, pencil, and metronome. Plus opera scores, recordings, dictionaries, highliters, post-its

Related Themes: Gear

Do you think being a woman and a musician is different from being a man and a musician? If so, how? Was there a moment that made a difference clear to you?

"I run up against the family issue quite a lot. Some companies and organizations are understanding of family needs; some aren't. Had I not had children I probably would have moved into conducting in my 30s. No regrets, btw. Also being a straight woman in my profession has had some glass ceilings, but I'm loathe to speak publicly about that.

I was told once by a male supervisor that women could never be as good pianists as men, because ""they lack the requisite upper body strength"". Word. Also was told by gay colleague that ""once you have children, your career is over."" Have proved him wrong. Heard once that I was turned down for a job because of my family, although of course that wasn't the official reason, since it is highly illegal.

Have to do an inordinate amount of travel between opera companies, which strains my time with my kids. Mercifully they understand and are opera fans and because of my travel they have been able to visit me in places we might never have gone. A gig in Arizona last fall led to a family visit to the Grand Canyon and Sedona, for example. Trying to make the best of it.

Have also seen that to object or complain to things is handled differently when it is done by a woman - there is still a tendency to label women ""difficult"" or ""oversensitive"", which is less frequently applied to men who take strong positions on issues."

Related Themes: Cashing In Old School vs. New School

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

There were virtually no female conductors until recently, led by the late Sarah Caldwell. The Berlin Philharmonic until relatively recently was all-male. Now "blind" orchestra auditions have taken away gender as a hiring issue. For opera singers, size is back to being an issue again. The Fat Lady doesn't get as many jobs as the buff one, thanks in part to the HD broadcasts that now show every last detail. You have people like Miuccia Prada designing opera costumes for svelte figures; never mind how those figures can actually sing.

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Did anyone ever give you any valuable advice about making your way in the music industry? What advice would you give to a woman musician just starting out?

Be as well prepared as you possibly can be. Your competition is hard on your heels. Every day that you don't hone your knowledge and skills is a day you backslide in some way. Stay strong and develop a thick skin. Be persistent - much of success depends on sheer tenacity. If you really love what you do, make it happen somehow, in some way. Don't let ANYBODY tell you that choosing to have a family is the end of your career.

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

Started studying piano when I was 4. Don't even remember choosing to study. Has just always been part of my life.

Related Themes: The First Time