Saturday, November 12, 2011

Spotlight on Musician 1st Class Amanda Polychronis

Musician 1st Class Amanda Polychronis, wears many hats. Her diverse talents and desire to con- tribute put her “behind the scenes” as well as performing with the Navy’s premier chorus, the Sea Chanters.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., but raised in Phoenix, Ariz., where I spent much of my childhood studying ballet, tap and jazz dance. For over a decade I stud- ied and practiced 15 hours a week. I’ve always loved singing, but never had the chance to try it seriously because of my involvement with dance.

When I was nearly 21 years old, I decided to enroll in voice class and choir at my local community college. I will never forget my first day in chorus be- cause I had no clue where to sit or what line of music to read! Luckily there was a singer in class who worked with me that semester. This was my start in music, which eventually led to earning my living as a professional musician.

After college I taught a 300-member choral program, music theory and drama at Horizon High School in Scottsdale, as well as running a private voice studio and teaching 30 students each week. During that time I was also regularly travelling around the country to sing at several professional opera houses. In 2006 I learned that the Navy Band had an opening in the Sea Chanters chorus. I’ve always been deeply patriotic and thought it would be a thrill to serve my country as a musician! I auditioned and now I’m blessed to be starting my 6th year with the band.

What other responsibilities have you taken on?

In addition to my singing responsibilities, I also serve as stage manager and assistant to our productions chief, Senior Chief Musician Keith Hinton. I love this part of my job because it essentially blends together all of my training and experience as a musician, dancer, teacher and performer.

Seeing a production through from beginning to end brings me great joy and a real sense of accomplishment. The process begins with the productions team, made up of members from each of the performing ensembles, sitting around the conference table and brainstorming ideas. Once we nail down a show concept and tunes, Chief Musician Scott Silbert, our head arranger, scores the music.

At this point my productions duties shift from the meeting room to the stage. I’m responsible for coordinating stage set-up and all onstage movements of musicians and special guests such as the Navy Ceremonial Guard. I choreograph and teach dance numbers, coach acting scenes, make microphone assignments, coordinate staging needs, and generally “tighten up” transitions so that our shows flow smoothly. It takes a lot of teamwork for our productions to look and sound highly professional, and I’m blessed to work with such talented musicians.

I’m also the stage manager for all Sea Chanters concerts throughout the year and it has been my honor to work with leaders from different ensembles who have asked me to watch their shows and offer production advice. Most recently, the Navy Band archives team asked me to stage manage the “Navy Pioneers: A History of African Americans in the Navy Music Program” concert. Opportunities to serve never seem to run out! I’m so grateful and honored that they trust me to help them accomplish their goals.

What is currently in your iPod?

I do my best thinking in my car, so while driving I’ve been listening to Ray LaMontagne, operatic soprano Ruth Ann Swenson, the music for our upcoming Navy birthday concert and my weekly voice lessons. I’m working on my singing, thinking about productions, and simply enjoying music all on my way to and from work.

What are your current goals?

In addition to wanting to try my hand at lighting design and writing narration in my current job, I’m considering pursuing an arts degree that would involve directing/producing, and possibly a Doctor of Musical Arts in vocal pedagogy. I would treasure the opportunity to both teach voice and direct music and drama productions at the community college level, as this is where I first learned to be a musician and performer. It would be a privilege to give back to my beginnings.

Are there any memorable highlights during your time here?

Memorable events for me include singing for the Pentagon Memorial 10-year commemoration of 9/11, the 2010 Navy Band holiday concert, where I really got to see my stage directing come to fruition, and every time we perform the “Armed Forces on Parade” medley and our honored veterans stand up. This truly moves me every time.

What do you enjoy doing when not working?

I love to try new restaurants, spend time with my friends and my dog, Jackpot Sally. ff

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