Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Totem profiles - James Mack

James Mack, from England, age 38, is a percussionist with Totem. It is his second Cirque du Soleil show, after performing with Delirium. His journey here, like many of the musicians in the cast, included concert halls, rock bands, musical theater, and world tours. But joining the circus has been a new, and remarkable, experience.

His musical life began early – with piano lessons at age 7, and his first set of drums at age 11. He had a supportive family, including two musically-inclined brothers. They formed bands throughout the years that James was growing up. He eventually attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, a prestigious institution in London. There, he spent 4 years studying orchestral and jazz music, focusing on piano and percussion instruments.

After graduating from Guildhall, he leapt into touring as a percussionist with international pop stars. Desiree, Westlife, and Kylie Minogue were some of the most famous examples.

Looking for a change, he sent his CV to Cirque du Soleil. A few months later, he remembers being in a tiny beach town in Mexico, where he was expecting to stay for several weeks. An offer from Cirque was in his email, discovered in an Internet café. He spent the next several days trying to locate remote Internet connections to accept Cirque’s contract offer, and within a week he was whisked away from sunny Mexico and brought to Montreal, where he would train to join Delirium.

Having spent most of his professional life on tour, he is appreciating the greater stability that Cirque du Soleil offers him. Staying in each city for weeks or months, and being able to bring his wife (who is pregnant, due with their first baby in February 2011!) along with him on the adventure, makes Totem especially enjoyable.

James has a great sense of humor and an incredible musical range – he’s an invaluable part of the Totem family.

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