Choral director's life is moving at an upbeat tempo

Conductor: The Arundel Vocal Arts Society's musical director keeps busy enough for several people

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Arundel Live

June 01, 2000|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A full-time office manager by day with McCulloch and Associates Inc., a management company in Annapolis, Glenette Schumacher pursues an after-hours life that perhaps is even more taxing. Yet she appears tranquil when she greets visitors before a concert or at the opening of a show.

A charter member of the Arundel Vocal Arts Society, which was founded in 1983, Schumacher became musical director, conductor and arranger in 1994. In her spare time, she also does musical direction for other theater productions.

April and May demonstrate what she calls her most recent scheduling nightmare: The 50-year-old Schumacher says that in addition to working full time, she spent more than 25 hours recording the soundtrack for "Jesus Christ Superstar," and prepared three shows.

She was musical director for Theatre Hopkins' presentation of "Candide," which opened April 14 and ran through May 21. She was musical director for "Superstar," which opened May 26 at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre. And Schumacher still served as director of the May 20 concert by the Arundel Vocal Arts Society.

When she made a commitment to her friend, director Todd Pearthree, to serve as music director for "Candide," she was already committed to the Vocal Arts spring concert but had "enough time between those two to keep some sanity in my life," she said. Then, director Mike Gilles called about "Superstar." Schumacher called it an opportunity she couldn't pass up.

After Friday's successful opening, Schumacher said her only remaining task is to calm down and get over "the constant feeling that there's something else to do."

Her only regret is that she didn't have more time to spend with her parents when they came for the Arundel Vocal Arts Society spring concert. They did see a "Superstar" rehearsal and were "rather proud" of their daughter, she said.

Glen and Ruth Rohner of Fontanelle, Iowa, named their only child Glenette for her father. Maternal grandmother Carrie McCartney lived with them in "the biggest house in town," Schumacher said, and was the neighborhood piano teacher.

By age 5, Glenette was playing the piano, entertaining at home and school. She took dancing lessons for years and danced at many events. Even today, when she conducts Arundel Vocal Arts Society, Schumacher dances, but without moving her feet.

From fourth grade through college, Schumacher expressed her love of music through drumming. Formal piano lessons did not start until high school, after she had won several local and statewide talent contests.

An accompanist of small vocal and choral groups, Schumacher was flattered when, as a seventh-grader, a senior asked her to accompany her clarinet solo. "I was busy from then on," Schumacher said, "and that's how I got involved eventually in music direction."

High school choral director Joyce Carman took Schumacher to her first Broadway show - "Hello, Dolly" starring Carol Channing in Des Moines - which instantly hooked her on shows.

In college, she accompanied voice students and performed with choruses. A major influence then was Howard Skinner, choral and music director at the University of Northern Colorado.

After moving to Baltimore in the mid-'70s, Schumacher continued piano lessons with Lillian Helldorfer in Essex. Through their association, Schumacher found work with Cockpit-in-Court Summer Theater at Essex.

Going from rehearsal pianist to music director to conducting, she did 10 shows between 1977 and 1986, including a 1982 "Jesus Christ Superstar."

From 1987 through 1999, she conducted seven shows at Dundalk Community College and two at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre: "Godspell" in 1993 and "Little Shop of Horrors" in 1994.

Arundel Vocal Arts Society President Sandra Boyd attributes the group's "growth in versatility and expression" to Schumacher's "warmth and respect, with the operative word respect."

Charter member Alan Wycherley, who now serves on the AVAS board, describes Schumacher as "an ideal conductor."

"She communicates well and gets feedback from her singers and is quick to find the group's strengths," he said.

"Superstar" production manager Kerri Baldwin, who has known Schumacher for 15 years, calls her highly respected in the professional community.

"If you've got Glenette Schumacher, you've got the best," Baldwin said.

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