Have I ever told you guys the Pelonkey-Dane Suarez love story? It happened one day before Christmas, in the warmth of the office... Dane, participated in our office 1776's Random Acts of Culture by serenading the entire 12th floor with his tenor voice and Christmas carols. Pelonkey was mesmerized, we had to have him for a NYE event, and the rest is history. Read Dane's full interview below.
What genre of music do you perform?
[Laughing] I do everything. I started out in choir, and from there I went to school for music, receiving my undergrad degree at Butler and a Masters Degree at the University of Illinois in Voice Performance. When I was in college I did a cappella, which is where my pop background comes from. I taught myself piano as a freshman in high school, then took lessons a year or two after, and I am classically trained now. I performed at a piano lounge for probably five or six years, playing & singing. But I’m also a classically trained opera singer, which is [oh, right, nbd] kind of my main career.
What operas do you sing for? [Is that even how you phrase that question?]
Being an opera singer is kind of a freelance thing. As of right now, I have six really big gigs lined up in 2016. I recently performed with the Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center [in Appamatox]. It was my premiere there, which was pretty cool. I do a lot of traveling. Up next I’m performing in NY, then Memphis, then Colorado.
How do you find those opportunities as a freelancer?
I go to a lot of auditions in NY. Most [openings] post an opportunity, I apply, and then audition in person. Some gigs are with people I’ve worked with before asking me to do new [roles or performances].
So tell us about the New Year's Eve gig you got through Pelonkey.
I was doing an outreach event for the Washington Concert Opera [at 1776]. During their lunch break, I sang an opera aria and a Christmas song. Pelonkey approached and asked if I had a New Year's Eve gig lined up already and if I played piano. [He hadn't, and he did. Bingo! Booked for Big Night Baltimore.]
There was a lot going on [at BNB], my room was the chill room, where people could come and have a drink, chill out, sing along with me. Outside my room, there was a huge ballroom that had a DJ going all night long, a room that had multiple bands playing sets throughout the night, a guy playing an acoustic guitar, a smaller DJ dance room, and my room was me and the piano. It was a "choose your own NYE event."
People would want to take a break from the loud noise, come into my room, and sing along. I was trying out some new stuff, everything from Adele to Billy Joel to… I don't know, trying to throw a little of everything in there.
What do you have coming up?
As far as my opera career goes, I have a lot coming up. My debut with Loft Opera in NYC is in March [in Tosca]. Then I go directly to Opera Memphis for Carmen, then I will be in Colorado for La bohème, and back in Memphis in the fall for their "30 Days of Opera." They have pop-up events all around the city every single day of September. [They perform any place you can think of, Whole Foods, the library, the street, wherever.] It's not my first time doing random stuff.
Top two songs on your playlist right now
Puccini, "Vissi d'arte" from Tosca
Where can we check out more of your stuff?
Is Dane not the sweetest?? Answer: he is. A lovely guy with a lovely voice. And so multi-talented. That's what Pelonkey is all about, yo! Great talent for dayyyyyys. Would be great to serenade you and/or your office, loved one, whoever, for Valentine's Day, just sayin'... Book him now! Thank us later.