The Rider News sat down with Dean Robert Annis to discuss his musical passion and post-retirement plans.
TRN: Where did you get your education, and what was your degree in?
Robert Annis: My early days were passionate about being a clarinetist. My undergraduate degree was from New England Conservatory and my graduate work was at the University of Southern California. From as early as I can remember, I loved getting up and putting my clarinet together and playing.
TRN: Is there another instrument that you wish you had learned, but never got around to trying?
RA: If I had more time and had been wise in what I was doing, I would’ve developed my piano skills much broader. I’ve always gotten a kick out of the individual that can sit at the piano or play the guitar and sing at the same time, but those weren’t my strengths. But, I was able to really be tunnel-visioned. I had a goal and I went after it. After experiencing it, then I could broaden the things I did, and that’s how I got into administration.
TRN: Is there a particular Westminster performance that will always stand out to you?
RA: So many of them are emotional. It’s been a great run of experiences. If I pick one over another, I’ll leave and remember, “Oh, and there was also that performance.” There’s a range of them that pull at your emotions.
TRN: Do you have any post-retirement plans?
RA: My wife is retiring in June. We haven’t thought it through a whole lot. I’ll probably do a little more clarinet playing than I’m doing now, but I’ll probably also enjoy myself. We do want to travel. We’re looking forward to some downtime — maybe I’ll even find a hobby.
TRN: Do you play the clarinet on your own time, or do you perform with a musical group?
RA: I still play with a group in Boston called Collage New Music, and it’s a contemporary classical chamber music group. A lot of what we do is play music written in the 20th century and I’ve played with the group for a long time. We’ve had a pretty interesting time over the years.
TRN: What has been your proudest non-Westminster- related achievement?
RA: There have been a lot of satisfying moments. At a very young age, I was an extra hired by the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops. I did that for a number of years when I lived in Boston and played performances, recordings and TV shows with them. Collage, the group I play with, was nominated for a Grammy. That’s not a personal recognition as much as a group, but it’s still very satisfying. I’ve also worked with a lot of wonderful conductors and soloists. I was a professional clarinetist from the age of 19 until the age of 45, so it was a very full time in my career.