Friday, January 3, 2014

Totem artist profiles - Annette Bauer

 Annette Bauer, age 36, is originally from Freiburg, Germany.  Annette is a recorder player with Totem.  Like most of our musicians, her musical career began very early - she began studying music at the age of 5.  Her parents were not musicians, but she has two younger brothers, who both play music (one professionally).  Recorder was Annette's first instrument, and it has been a constant throughout her life.  During those early school years, she also sang in the choir, played piano and bassoon, played wind instruments for different amateur orchestras, and even performed in competitions.

By her final year of highschool, Annette was serious enough about music study to being taking lessons at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, which is a part of the Music-Academy in Basel, Switzerland.  After highschool, she moved to Basel to become a full-time student there, and found her specialty in "early music", historical performance practice, focusing on the medieval time period.  In this process, she explored medieval improvisation, which led her to a teacher of Indian classical music (Ali Akbar Khan), and study of an instrument called a sarode.  I remember her flying with her sarode on our charter flight to Ottawa.  It got its own seat.

Annette came to California for the first time in 1998, to study Indian classical music with Ali Akbar Khan in San Rafael.  She started coming every summer, and in 2001 decided to make California her home.  She went to UC Santa Cruz to get a master's degree in music, and from 2004 onwards made her living as a freelance musician in the San Francisco Bay area.  She traveled around the world for gigs.  She studied music education, and taught students of all ages.  She formed early-music ensembles, and found a love of Brazilian music and percussion to add to her repertoire.

In 2009 Annette heard of Racheal Cogan.  Racheal was Totem's original recorder player, and she had also produced a couple of her own albums, which Annette bought and appreciated.  They had common ground, blending different musical cultures.  Annette had sent her materials to Cirque, and was under consideration for other possible positions, but nothing was quite the right fit until Racheal decided to leave Totem.  This was in early 2012, and came with some serendipitous circumstances - in late 2011 Annette had seen Totem for the first time, as an audience member, and loved the show.  Her personal life had suffered some tumult, and she was feeling less tied to her San Francisco home than ever before. The time was right, the position was right, and Annette joined the Totem tour in San Diego, in March 2012.

Costumes: Kym Barrett, ©2010 Cirque du Soleil Inc. photo by Eva Geisler

Annette says that in general, she does well living in a community, and Totem is a kind of village.  As a freelancer, she didn't have this.  And there are so many other differences for her, as a performer, that she notices - her previous work included a lot of acoustic performances and chamber music, and Cirque du Soleil, with the makeup and character work and need for increased vocal capacity, has challenged her and helped her to grow.

Annette volunteers as the Totem school's music teacher, and this one hour per week is a highlight for all of them.  The children adore her, and leave her lessons singing and dancing and playing their little recorders.  And for Annette, this work helps her to feel grounded, and connected to the tour, while she also gets to soak up the playfulness, creativity, and joy that the children bring to the classroom.

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