He’s walked the halls of the College of Music for more than 20 years, shaping the singing careers of countless men and women and enriching the lives of faculty, staff and student colleagues. Now, Professor of Voice Patrick Mason has announced that he will retire from teaching at the end of this academic year.
He says it was just time to step back. “I wanted to leave while I was still teaching really well, and right now I know I have colleagues I can trust to carry on what we’ve started.”
Originally from Ohio, Mason has become known throughout his nearly 50-year career as a master of many genres. Since the 1970s, the baritone has collaborated with early music ensembles Waverly Consort and Schola Antiqua, composers Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, guitarist David Starobin and orchestras and opera companies around the world.
He says each stage of his career shaped what he’s been able to accomplish.
“Early on it was the Gregg Smith Singers and the men’s and boys’ choir at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue in New York. Then the Waverly Consort and great opportunities to sing in Alice Tully Hall and the [Met] Cloisters. That’s where I learned a lot of confidence and how to be a good ensemble singer.”
Indeed, Mason has enjoyed a storied performance career that saw him premiere works by George Crumb and adapt Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” for comic book with friend and artist P. Craig Russell—and everything in between. And while his varied career gave him the chops to train singers at CU Boulder and at the State University of New York at Fredonia, he says his time as an educator has always informed his singing as well.
“Teaching made me a better singer, and vice versa,” he explains. “Working with students on the issues they have—building technique and getting back to the basics—makes me constantly re-examine my singing.”
As he prepares to hand off the reins of a program he helped shape, Mason says he’ll continue to nurture close relationships with the students and faculty whom he’s grown to love over 24 years.
“When I left Fredonia, this was the only place I was going to go. The college has always been known for its collegiality, and that’s what I’ll miss the most. I’ve been able to collaborate with so many of my colleagues here, instrumentalists and singers. They’re wonderful musicians and wonderful people, and our students pick up on that and it teaches them to respect each other as well.”
He says he’ll spend his retirement getting back to the basics: rekindling a deep-seated love of music.
“I’m so excited to be able to go to more concerts! I’ll get to do what so many people in this town do, and that’s take advantage of the music created here. I’ll get back to being a music lover.”
And he says that—the music—is what it’s always been about for him.
“All I wanted in life, ever since I was a kid, was a life in music. I didn’t care what that was or what it looked like. And that’s what I got.”
Mason is the Berton Coffin Faculty Fellow and past chair of the Department of Voice and Opera. He has degrees from the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.