• Natasha Castillo

Exclusive interview with the Multi-talented John M. Cook

Hello everyone!

Happy Sunshine Friday! Are you ready to welcome another glorious Spring weekend? I thought that this is the perfect thing to kick start your weekend... my exclusive interview with the amazingly talented John M. Cook!

Many of you, myself included, may have seen John as he played for the beautiful, multi-award winning Josephone Sanges and multi-award winning Ira Lee Collings. It takes an extraordinary musical director to play for these wonderful performers and more!

I met John first the first time when I videoed the "Together" show and since then, I have bumped into him and had the pleasure of conversing with him on various occasions. John is not only talented but warm, supportive and friendly! He is perfect for the month of May! It is my pleasure to feature him as my musical director for the month of Spring!

Aside from his amazing talent, John is quite a mystery to a lot of us!

For this interview, I asked John the following questions:

1) Can you share with us a couple of interesting facts that most people don’t know about you?

I have the longest shoe laces in all of creation. No matter what age from 5 to 50 I look down and always see my shoes untied. I realize completely that this is a genetic condition and happens to no one else. So there it is, always embarrassing me, plaguing me....but what can i do?

2) You are a wonderful musical director, arranger, and performer. What started your passion for music? How did it all begin?

I was always lucky to have a good ear. When I was a kid of three or four I would go to the piano and pick out tunes that I would hear on the radio. The real love though began for me at the age of five when one day listening to WFMT, the classical music station in Chicago. That day I heard a performance of Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe Suite #2, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. After those final triumphant chords I was left panting....that incredible orchestration, those tonal textures. It was like a miracle come to earth. I still get emotional when hearing it all these years later.

3) Do you have some particularly interesting stories in your musical life that you'd like to share with the readers?

I was once performing the Grieg Piano Concerto with orchestra in Chicago. And as I began the solo cadenza a line of ants came out from behind the lid of the piano and started clustering in the lower bass. And every time I had these lower chords to play I was crushing several ants. Later after the performance I looked under the lid and saw a crust of bread that had been left by someone on the sounding board. But it taught me a valuable lesson! Life does not always cooperate. Even on your best days life is going to throw you challenges.

4) What motivates your creativity and passion for life? What inspires your music? Name three things that never fails to put a smile on your face!

I love seeing the look in someone’s face when they master something that they never thought possible. When all of a sudden, life expands and they push their own needle forward.

I seem to get happier the older I get, and I'm starting to find wonder in many things i used to take for granted. I love the genius of the human creative spirit and since all of us are looking for transcendence, I’m always looking for the next phrase of music or even the next turn of phrase that enhances and explains life to me a little better.

5) Share with us what you have in the pipeline for us to be on the lookout for!

I’m fortunate to be working in this wonderful world of cabaret. I work with singers who bring such an incredible creative energy to what they do and I love that they make me part of that. In addition, in the near future I will be working with some soloists on a couple of my concert works and hoping to bring them to a larger public. I’m happy to keep getting busier all the time. How lucky is that?

From my interview, I think you can get a sense of what I mean when I speak of the warmth of John as a musical director! The next step for you, naturally, in my humble opinion if I may, is for you to come out to the next Spotlight on YOU Open Mic on May 1 and experience him live and sing with him!

Until then, enjoy another beautiful Spring Weekend and STAY TUNED FOR MORE INTERVIEWS NEXT WEEK! ONE FOR EACH DAY!!



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