Grab your sweetheart and your tickets for “A Night of the Romantics!” at the Lake Wales Arts Center. GRAMMY-nominated master-vocalist Patrick Muehleise will take the stage on November 16 at 6 pm, to serenade the audience with a powerful program melodically exploring life’s greatest emotion – love.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
“As a kid growing up in a small farm town in rural Michigan whose main interests were sports, friends, and girls, I didn’t realize being a professional classical musician was my destiny until much later in life,” began Muehleise.
Patrick has always loved music. He was a percussionist in the school band from 5th grade through 8th grade. In grade 8, he made the switch to choir, arguably changing the trajectory of his life.
“I had a fantastic choir director,” he said of teacher Traci Bartell. “She really encouraged me to sing and saw that I had some sort of natural ability that I could work to improve.”
The encouragement from teachers and peers continued into high school. Muehleise expressed the impact both his middle school and high school choir directors Traci Bartell and Kristy Houston respectively, had on his music. “They both were some of the most incredible educators that I’ve ever come across in my entire life,” he said. “I ended up falling in love with singing and vocal music – choral music as well as singing as a soloist.”
As high school graduation approached, the young tenor with humble roots was cautious to seek a career in the arts. “I decided that I would audition for one music school […] and if I made it into Western Michigan as a music student I would attend. If I didn’t make it in, I would seek out pharmacy school,” he said.
He auditioned for Western Michigan University, was wait-listed and thought he was headed for pharmacy school. A few weeks later, he got the call that a spot had opened up. Competitive by nature and surrounded by other talented tenors who had been studying privately for much longer than he had – Muehleise pushed himself to excel. In college, he was mentored by another professor that shaped his career, his choir director, Dr. James Bass.
Muehleise said, “The incredible educators along my path played a pivotal role in helping me become the musician I am today. From Traci Bartell and Kristy Houston at Schoolcraft Public Schools and voice lessons with Dr. Chris Hathaway and Corlyn Longer-Schreck, to Dr. James Bass and Dr. Carl Ratner at Western Michigan University and Dr. Brad Diamond throughout my professional career, I have been incredibly fortunate.”
He worked exceedingly hard and went on to join the top choir in his sophomore year. Another opportunity presented itself through a partnership with Dr. Bass and Seraphic Fire, a vocal ensemble organization based out of South Florida. During a recording project with the group, he had the opportunity to meet all the members and Founder and Artistic Director of Seraphic Fire, conductor, Patrick Dupré Quigley. After recording, they went on a CD release tour to Miami and Mexico City. When a tenor spot opened up for their Christmas performances, Quigley called Muehleise to request a few recordings as an audition and he landed a spot on the project. Still an undergraduate student, Patrick had his first professional contract. After college, he sought out more performance opportunities and moved to Chicago to base his freelance career.
Success came early in Muehleise’s career in his first contract with an organization in Tucson, Arizona, then called the Tucson Chamber Artists, now True Concord. His first recording project with them was an album showcasing choral compositions of the now late Stephen Paulus.
“Stephen Paulus is one of the greatest American choral music composers,” said Patrick. “Stephen was present for the entire recording process and because of his feedback, we were able to record his music exactly the way he intended it to be performed, which was incredible,” he said. “That in itself was life-changing because that was a person whose music I had been singing since high school. To meet him and work alongside such a giant in our field was a tremendous honor.”
A few months post-recording, Paulus passed away unexpectedly. “I have to imagine that project was sort of the last major project that Stephen Paulus had worked on – so I was very fortunate to have that time with him and of course all the incredible musicians with True Concord,” said Muehleise.
Out of respect for Paulus, they waited almost two years to release the album. Upon its release in 2016, it was up for GRAMMY consideration in the Best Choral Performance category. “Stephen’s composition called “Prayers and Remembrances” actually won a GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Composition,” Muehleise said. “To be associated with something like that at such an early point in my career was truly humbling. It wasn’t just me, it wasn’t just Stephen Paulus or anyone else, it was the group – it was the entire group of incredible musicians.”
Another momentous year for the vocalist, 2019 saw him awarded The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award. A winning quartet was selected, of which Muehleise was the tenor award recipient. As part of the prize, the quartet was part of a showcase performance. The performance was held at the Symphony Center in Chicago where the Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays. “The award afforded me the opportunity to perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, arguably the greatest piece of music ever written, on one of the greatest stages in the world.”
“To stand on that stage and perform that music was one of the greatest honors of my life,” said Muehleise. “It was very, very special to me and I will never forget that night.”
“A NIGHT OF THE ROMANTICS!”
Muehleise has a special night planned for his first-ever performance at the Lake Wales Arts Center on November 16. “I’m very excited about this concert because it’s a program that I am able to choose for myself,” he said. “It’s a little bit self-indulgent, maybe,” he laughed. “It’s all music that I absolutely adore and love to perform. I really think the audience is going to fall in love with these pieces.”
Also excited for the performance is Lake Wales Arts Council Executive Director, Andrew Allen. “Patrick Muehleise is a brilliant operatic tenor. […] We are honored to host such a virtuosic performer here in Lake Wales,” said Allen.
During the concert, Muehleise will be collaborating with professional pianist and Assistant Professor of Music at Warner University, Dr. Jonathan Reed. “I wanted to program a true collaboration, not only including virtuosic vocal music, but also highlighting the tremendous soloist skills needed from the best collaborative pianists,” said Muehleise.
The first of the two main works that Muehleise will be performing is a song cycle by German composer Richard Strauss, “Sechs Lieder aus Lotosblätter.” The lyrics are in German, but English translations will be printed in the program for the audience to follow. “It’s a song cycle that’s not often performed and I’m excited to bring that to the audience in Lake Wales,” he said.
“The poetry in these pieces is just unbelievably gorgeous,” said Muehleise. The songs, though each very different are all about the same emotion – love. “Love is a magical feeling because it can inspire every emotion from joy to anger, excitement, fear and everything in between, and I think that these six songs do an incredible job of portraying that,” said the vocalist.
The other main piece in the program, perhaps more familiar to listeners, is “Old American Songs: Book One” by Aaron Copland. These five pieces were written and arranged by Copland for voice and piano. The audience can expect fun pieces like “The Boatman’s Dance,” “Simple Gifts,” and “Bought Me a Cat,” which is always an audience favorite.
Interspersed throughout the performance will be three to four opera arias as well as a handful of songs by British composers, Benjamin Britten and John Ireland. Pianist Johnathan Reed will be performing three solos as well – one of which will be Claude Debussy’s famous “Clair de lune” from Suite Bergamasque.
“My main goal for the program in Lake Wales is that no matter who is in attendance and whatever their musical background, they will be moved emotionally and hopefully connect with at least one piece on the concert. And who knows, maybe there will be another young tenor in attendance who doesn’t yet know his path,” said Muehleise. “As always, My hope is to convey the immeasurable beauty of this music and text to the best of my ability.”
Patrick Muehleise – “A Night of the Romantics!”
When: Saturday, November, 16 at 6 pm
Where: Lake Wales Arts Center
The Lake Wales Arts Council
1099 FL-60 E, Lake Wales, FL