Music with Minnesotans: Bob Oganovic

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
April 17, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. — I first met Bob Oganovic at church. He sings baritone with the St. Mark's Cathedral Choir and my husband had a short stint as soloist there. The two should have been separated because they became the choir cut ups up the minute they discovered a shared the same off-beat humor.

But singing is not just fun and games for Bob. He has been singing since his teenage years - just when his voice had changed - and tells me he proudly wears the moniker "choral geek."

He describes singing in choirs as a kind of randomness - even within the structure of music making - because it's the community you meet, the particular skills and talents of each singer, the personalities and quirks all mixed together in a soup and hopefully in the end reaching a sound as one voice.

Bob sings with the Cathedral, but also with the Minnesota Chorale and has created a playlist of what he calls "hits' - certainly in the choral world - but also pieces he's sung himself and even after many years still feeling the tingle and joy of new discovery.

Bob is not a professional singer but has sung with some of the best and under the likes of Stanislaw Skrowaczeski, Osmo Vanska, Charles Dutoit, David Willcocks and Edo de Waart. And he is an instrumentalist too, playing the bassoon and studying composition with 'a guy who studied with Hindemith.'

His compositions have been performed in Minneapolis and Milwaukee as well as right here on MPR.

Modest for sure, I had to drag out of him to share with us about his work as a DJ at Saint Cloud State. And just like me half the challenge of announcing classical music was learning to pronounce names and accept constructive criticism from a discerning listenership.

Initially Bob was unsure about coming on my show. He tells me his day job in "cloud computing" at Oracle is somewhat ordinary. That may be so. But it pays the bills and allows Bob to indulge in his 'choral habit.'

Bob Oganovic's playlist:

Giovanni Palestrina, Sicut cervus - National Lutheran Choir

Maurice Durufle, Requiem: Sanctus - Atlanta/Shaw

Randall Thompson, Frostiana: The Pasture - Cantus (recorded in-studio, MPR)

Ralph Vaughan Williams, Five English Folk Songs: Wassail Song - Finzi Singers

Leonard Bernstein, Candide: Make our Garden Grow - Boston/Tanglewood Chorus/Williams

Eric Whitacre, Lux Aurumque - Dale Warland Singers

Healey Willan, Rise up, my love - Elmer Iseler Singers

Howard Shore, Return of the King: Bilbo's Song - New Zealand

Next week we invite the "Mom and Dad" of the Rose Ensemble, Pete and Carol Parshall, who met singing nearly 50 years ago and have making been making beautiful music together ever since.

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