Q&A with Gregory Geehern, Acting Artistic Director
Gregory Geehern—conductor, pianist, singer, and scholar—assumed the role of Acting Artistic Director in September. He was previously Associate Conductor and Assistant to the Artistic Director.
We sat down with Greg to talk about the upcoming year, and learn more about his musical tastes.
What does your dream season look like?
Gregory Jon Geehern: A compelling journey through different styles, time periods, and disciplines that allows audiences to experience all the possibilities of music. The season would balance the joy of rediscovering traditional pieces with the excitement of presenting more modern works. It would include opera, Baroque, musical theater, jazz, multimedia, and music of different cultures. And it would always reflect the broadest interests of the community here in Princeton and beyond.
How close to that dream will we be able to get in 2021, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 crisis?
GJG: The 2021 season will be breathtaking regardless of the platforms we use to deliver it. Get ready for classic arias, a new multimedia presentation, and plenty of Baroque gems. We hope to present several performances in person within controlled, socially distanced venues, but will follow the best advice of local public-health professionals. The music will be transcendent whether in-person or live-streamed.
You’re active in a variety of musical periods and genres, from medieval music to contemporary cross-genre music and multimedia. What would you most like to share with the Princeton Festival audience?
GJG: I look forward to expanding the festival’s presentation of interdisciplinary work – such as the Voices of Light project in 2016 – and new compositions. My career has included many new music engagements, including as a producer of the late composer John Eaton’s album The Sor Juana Project, and it would be an honor to share some outstanding modern works. I would also like to expand The Princeton Festival Baroque series, which gave me the opportunity to conduct Handel’s Dixit Dominus in 2018.
When did you first start playing or singing?
GJG: I started picking out tunes on the piano at age three. I began studying piano at six years old. A fortuitous scheduling conflict enabled me to sing in my high-school choir, which kindled my love for vocal music and opera.
Top three musical heroes?
GJG: J.S. Bach, Benjamin Britten, and Aretha Franklin.
Musical guilty pleasures?
GJG: It’s not necessarily a guilty pleasure, but I do enjoy the songs of Bob Dylan (including his electric period).
Favorite non-musical pastime (assuming you have time for one)?
GJG: I love both new and classic automobiles. My pride and joy is a vintage BMW Z3 convertible. If there’s a car show in the area, I’m there. And yes, I do subscribe to Motor Trend.
GJG: Risotto is my favorite comfort food.
Favorite things about the Princeton area?
GJG: Community, culture, curiosity and history. Princeton is, in many ways, built upon learning and exploration, which makes it a perfect crucible for artistic enterprises like The Princeton Festival.
Thank you Greg! We can’t wait until next June!
Gregory Geehern is in demand as a conductor, singer, and collaborative pianist in choral music and opera. His leadership of opera choruses and choral concerts at the Princeton Festival was singled out for praise by several music critics. Among his other professional activities, he is co-founder of Kosmologia, a Chicago-based interdisciplinary arts collective, and a producer of recordings of contemporary music. He has a doctorate from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a master’s from the New England Conservatory of Music.