Binghamton, NY – April 19, 2019 – The Binghamton Community Orchestra announces the retirement of Maestro Dr. Timothy Perry from his position as Musical Director of the orchestra. Dr. Perry will be stepping down at the end of the orchestra’s current season.
Dr. Perry has been Musical Director for a total of sixteen years. He first came to the orchestra at the beginning of the 1994-1995 season, and stayed on through the spring of 2005. After a brief hiatus, Dr. Perry returned to the podium with the BCO in the fall of 2014, and has been with the orchestra ever since. It has been a wonderful collaboration for both Dr. Perry and the orchestra.
BCO Board President Barry Peters reflected about Dr. Perry’s tenure with the orchestra. “Under Tim Perry’s direction, the size of the orchestra and the audience have grown, the quality of the performances has improved, and we have all become acquainted with music that is both interesting and in many cases new to our ears. Tim has provided the orchestra and the audience with countless historical anecdotes related to the music, through his talks during the concerts. Additionally, he thoroughly enjoys working with the members of the orchestra. He has been able to promote a sense of loyalty to the orchestra by the members of the ensemble. His musicianship, his intellect, and his leadership will be missed when he retires.”
Dr. Perry is a native of the state of Wisconsin. His life and career took him many places, but ultimately to Binghamton, where he settled and remained for the past 33 years. Why Binghamton? What was it about this region that caused Dr. Perry to make this his home? Part of the answer can be found in his journey that led him here.
Knowing at an early age that he wanted a career in music performance, his studies took him first to the University of Wisconsin, then to Manhattan School of Music, where he earned his Bachelor of Music Degree in Clarinet Performance. Next was the Yale School of Music where he received his Master of Music, Master of Musical Arts, and ultimately his Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. While there, he also performed for four seasons with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the New England Chamber Orchestra, while completing degree requirements in both Clarinet and Conducting. The academic environment at Yale and in New Haven in general produced a shift in his career focus towards a career in higher education.
After completing his masters programs, Perry was recruited to play in a woodwind quintet by the Catskill Conservatory. Based in Oneonta, NY, the Conservatory’s mission was to bring professional classical music to Oneonta and surrounding counties by bringing in highly skilled musicians who provided teaching at area colleges and universities, served as principal players for the Catskill Symphony Orchestra and the newly-formed Glimmerglass Opera, and collaborated in resident String Quartet, Woodwind Quintet, and Brass Quintet.
This unique musical community brought Perry to upstate New York. While there, he developed a love for the area (it reminded him of home) and began long lasting working and friendship relationships with many like-minded professional musicians.
In 1981, an opportunity presented itself that would bring Perry closer to his home. He was asked to interview for a position at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota. He did well, and was offered the position, which he accepted. Perry joined the Bemidji faculty in August of 1981. He spent five years conducting the college/community orchestra, and this is where he developed his passion for directing skilled adult musicians. The group was in part a college orchestra for credit, and a community orchestra, filling its ranks with amateur adult musicians from the community.
In 1985, Perry returned briefly to Yale to finish his doctorate, and then returned to Bemidji for one more year. Seeking new opportunities, he applied for an opening at Binghamton University. There, he would conduct the University Symphony Orchestra, and, for nineteen seasons, the University Wind Ensemble. Dr. Perry would come to find that the environment at BU offered opportunities for creative, interesting collaborative projects. He would go on to collaborate with the Theater Department in a production of “West Side Story,” a bi-national project that took him down to Santiago, Chile, where he worked with faculty and performers of Duoc, a private, not-for-profit university, and the ProJazz music school. This collaboration with Duoc IC Santiago was followed two years later by another international production of “Three Penny Opera.” Dr. Perry, in collaboration with another BU department, this time the Theater department, participated twice in a collaboration with New York City’s Paul Taylor Dance Company, with the University Orchestra providing the music for the dancers in performances here at Binghamton University. Perry served for a time as Music Department Chair.
Additionally at BU, Dr. Perry worked with graduate conducting students, mentoring them as they worked with the University Symphony. His concerts also spotlighted the work of many BU music composition majors. A concerto program there brought graduate level music performance members to play with the orchestra under his baton. We see echoes of all this work in the all that he has done with the Community Orchestra.
Dr. Perry credits this Binghamton University’s rich academic environment and its opportunities for just such projects for being part of the reason he has stayed in Binghamton all these years. He has enjoyed working with students who, in addition to their talent, have such a high academic caliber. Then, too, the small city, small town feel of the Triple Cities, like the Oneonta area, was a strong pull as well.
When a position for Music Director of the Binghamton Community Orchestra opened up, Dr. Perry, perhaps remembering his time in Bemidji, applied for, and won the job. In September of 1994, he began what would be a long and fulfilling tenure with the orchestra. He said, “I enjoy working with adults. It’s a different dynamic. You can interact with adults in a more relaxed way. They get my sense of humor.” That humor, and a kind, respectful, and enjoyable scholarly mentoring would be a feature of his work with this wonderful group of musicians. Concerts were notable for their quality, and for Dr. Perry’s professorial and humorous short talks between selections. Always informative and well researched, and presented so warmly, audiences looked forward to that part of the concerts almost as much as the performances themselves.
That connection that Dr. Perry has felt with the members of this orchestra went both ways. Long time BCO orchestra musician, violinist Lynn Aylesworth, explains, “I think Tim Perry’s love of music is very apparent in that he has a story to tell about every piece and every composer. His wealth of musical knowledge is his most notable contribution to the orchestra.” Then, shedding light on Dr. Perry’s knack with adult musicians, Aylesworth goes on to say, “He is always the professor. He stops often to tell us how the composer would want us to play a section of music. He has clever ways of using humor to make a point that usually has the whole orchestra laughing. I feel I have learned so much under his tutelage.”
Another long time member of the orchestra, violinist Betty Bayles echoes those sentiments “We could always depend on Tim to be prepared, to know exactly how he wanted each piece, each phrase, each measure to sound. Then he worked hard to bring us up to that standard to the best of our ability. It didn’t matter what music was chosen, he knew music of all ages and genres, and was prepared! He is the most knowledgeable music professor/teacher I have ever had the good fortune to play with and learn from – and that covers quite a few years.”
About Dr. Perry’s relationship with the musicians, Bayles continues, “He was always approachable and kind. I looked forward to rehearsals every Thursday.”
Long time bassoonist with the orchestra, Dana Gleason mentioned his “conducting prowess.” When reflecting on how Dr. Perry has contributed to her own life, she says, “Tim has always treated us as talented adults. He treats me with respect and dignity, and has pushed me to exceed my limits with his choices of repertoire. Tim encourages us to work together in each rehearsal. His humor and witticisms make the evening a pleasure.” In closing, Gleason states, “It’s my night out to make music with friends!”
It is interesting to note that, during his 33 years in Binghamton, his tenure with the orchestra spans nearly half of that time! Dr. Perry clearly has loved getting to know and work these with these musicians and making music with them. Perhaps the BCO is another reason Dr. Perry considers Binghamton his home. He certainly has embraced the Orchestra’s mission, which is “to empower music lovers to explore their passion through quality orchestral experiences.”
What’s next for Dr. Perry? Well, off course there’s travel and more time to spend with his wife, Dr. Ute St. Clair. There are always projects to do on their home. And then, during a recent visit to his office at Binghamton University (he will be retiring from BU as well), Dr. Perry indicated a shelf of binders that graces an entire wall of his lair. It looks like he has another career’s worth of study to do. We are sure, too, that we will see him again on stage in some way or another.
More immediately, the public can still see Dr. Perry on stage this spring. Look for Dr. Perry in the following events:
Sunday, May 5, 2019 – Vaughan Williams “Dona Nobis Pacem” with the University Symphony Orchestra, Harper Chorale and University Chorus at 3 PM in the Osterhout Concert Theater – Binghamton University.
Saturday, May 11, 2019 – “Danubian Delights” with the Binghamton Community Orchestra at 7:00 pm at the Binghamton East Middle School Auditorium.
This project is made possible with public funds from the Chenango Arts Council’s Decentralization Program, a re-grant program of the NYS Council on the Arts, with support from Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature.
Additional support for Broome County provided by the Stewart W. & Willma C. Hoyt Foundation.
Saturday, May 18, 2019 – Concert with the Binghamton Community Orchestra at 7:30 pm at Owego Free Academy Auditorium.
For biographical information on Dr. Timothy Perry, please visit these websites:
Binghamton University – https://www.binghamton.edu/music/faculty/tperry.html
Binghamton Community Orchestra – http://binghamtoncommunityorchestra.org/index.php?id=music-director
For additional information about the Binghamton Community Orchestra, please visit the orchestra’s website at: http://binghamtoncommunityorchestra.org/
For questions, please call or email at:
Phone: (607) 862-6268