Behind the glamour of the stage and the dedication of the day-to-day office staff, a modern day opera company depends on donations and major gifts to sustain its operations. Central City Opera is a 501c(3) non-profit organization and is fortunate to have a stellar development team that works hard to raise funds for all aspects of the company. Today, we discuss where a career in fundraising can take you at an opera company like CCO. Meet Michael Walker, Central City Opera’s Annual Fund Manager.
What do you do in your role at Central City Opera?
I work on the development team, helping to fundraise and build a vibrant community for CCO.
Why is your work important at an arts company?
I believe that my work helps stabilize and keep the arts alive.
Tell us a bit about your life, education and career before Central City Opera (CCO).
One of life’s milestones is the choice of deciding a college major, which can make a huge impact on life’s path. I decided to pursue a degree in business and after completing my business degree, with much deliberation and a lack of satisfaction with my quality of life, I decided to pursue a career in arts as a singer and arts administrator. I had sung in various choral programs since elementary school and throughout my collegiate years, which is where I developed a deeply rooted love for vocal music. When I started my undergraduate degree, I enrolled in voice lessons, studying as a baritone. Even though I was experiencing growth in my vocal technique and knowledge of solo vocal repertoire, I never quite felt fulfilled studying as a baritone, while finding great enjoyment singing in falsetto. I simply did not have the same connection with music written for my modal voice. It was not until I was assigned a solo as a male alto with the Mount San Antonio College Chamber Singers that I came to understand what was missing – that I am a countertenor. In my third year of private voice study, I made the decision to study countertenor repertoire and early music performance practices. Acceptance into Indiana University’s Historical Performance Institute as a masters student was just the push I needed to pursue music as my primary ambition. It was not an easy choice, and I faced many challenges, however, I do not regret my decision. This was a significant career move that has allowed me to utilize both my skills as a musician and management specialist to better serve my community and create positive change.
How did you make your way into the field of opera? Why does the artform appeal to you?
Throughout my life, music has been a constant and continues to play an essential role; singing is what gives my life meaning. Though music education and live art performances it has provided me with a deeper understanding of vocal technique and repertoire. Therefore, I believe that life is a continuous journey with many opportunities to learn and to explore with the goal of gaining a greater perspective of the human experience through live performances.
Tell us about your world outside your position at CCO.
In addition to music, my other hobbies are outdoor hikes (especially with my dog, Zeus) and gardening when the weather permits.
What’s your personal mission statement? Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do because I love what I do, which is to serve and better our community.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about opera?
That opera is for everyone!
What does Central City Opera mean to you?
Central City Opera is special to me because of the wonderful, genuine people that it brings up the hill every year. Also, CCO has been staple and standard-bearer in the greater arts community of America and I’m proud to be a part of its legacy.
Michael’s vegetable and herb garden!