Craig Irvin will be making his Des Moines Symphony debut as the baritone soloist for our March 14 & 15, 2020 performances of Carmina Burana.
Tell us about your very first encounter with music.
My first encounter with music was probably in church. I remember being a little kid and going to my grandparents house for lunch after church and singing the hymns from the Mass to them.
When did you begin singing?
My elementary school teacher set up a special choir called "Free to be Singers". To be in the group, you had to give up one recess a week. That's how I knew how important music was to me; if I was willing to give up a recess I must have really loved it!
When did you decide that you wanted to become a professional musician?
I always loved performing and I always loved singing. It was probably my Junior year in High School when I put them both together and decided that I really wanted to become a professional musician.
What Des Moines Symphony or other musical performances stand out in your memory?
I have a lot of musical performances that stand out in my head. If I had to pick one, I'd have to say that it's performing in an opera called Silent Night. I was in the premier cast at Minnesota Opera in 2011, and it was an amazing experience. The show has gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize for best new composition (2012), and it has been performed dozens of times. I've had the honor of being in many of those performances. If I was to pick one specifically about the Des Moines Symphony, I'd have to say the performance of Looney Tunes music (along with the cartoons) a few years ago. My son went to see that one, and he loved it!
How do you typically prepare for a concert?
I have a little tradition where I go out for a ribeye steak dinner before the opening of a show. I take my score with me and think through the piece while I enjoy the dinner. I like to think that it's good way to focus, but really I think it's just an excuse to have a good ribeye steak.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of being a musician? What is the most fulfilling part?
The most difficult part would probably have to be spending time away from my wife and kids (my wife and I have a 9 year old and 6 year old twins). I'm on the road about 5-7 months a year, and the road can get lonely when the people you love the most are far away. The most fulfilling part would be the the opportunity to perform amazing music with amazing people. The idea that for even a moment, I have the opportunity to provide a moving experience to the people in the audience.
Who have been some of the most influential people in your life?
I've been blessed to have many wonderful people in my life. My parents would obviously have to be the most influential people in my life. I think the people who have been them most influential to me in music would probably be my elementary music teacher (Francine Griffith), my junior high music teacher (Natalie McDonald), and my teachers at Simpson (Robert Larsen, Maria DiPalma, and Michale Patterson).
What piece of music could you sing over and over again?
There are way too many to list!
Outside of singing, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?
I watch far too much TV. I also play too many games on my phone (and sometimes on my xbox). I also enjoy open mic stand up comedy, writing poetry from time to time, and enjoying time with friends and family. To be honest, my kids are at an age where I don't have a lot of free time to have many hobbies.