Princeton Day School Music teacher Ryan Brechmacher has spent the last fourteen years sharing the joys of making music while enriching the School's musical offerings as a teacher, piano accompanist, composer/arranger and performer. Each year, Mr. Brechmacher has literally had two hands in several performing arts ensembles in the Middle and Upper School, including: Fifth and Sixth Grade Concert Choir, Seventh and Eighth Grade Chorale, Eighth Grade Notes, US Chorus, Eighth Grade musical, Upper School Musical, Lower School winter program. He also teaches AP Music Theory.
This fall, Mr. Brechmacher has already recorded accompaniment tracks for all MS and US Choral Ensembles, a piano piece for the PDS dance program with MS/US Dance Coordinator Ann Robideaux and piano parts for some of the MS/US orchestral ensembles directed by Dr. Tomasz Rzezcycki.
"I'm essentially trying to fill any musical gaps that exist due to the shifting circumstances this year," he explains. "This is a challenging time to be a collaborative pianist and choral accompanist, given the limitations on rehearsing together and/or performing for audiences. I'm proud to be part of a PDS Performing Arts department that is pulling out all the stops to provide meaningful and safe experiences for student performers to create and share their work with the community," Mr. Brechmacher shared.
"One of the things that brings me the most joy is to be able to play for the Holiday Big Sing, a gathering that unfortunately isn't able to happen this year due to COVID-19. As crazy as it is with all of the Lower School and Middle School screaming their heads off in the Upper Gym, it makes me so happy that I can bring so many people joy and holiday cheer by just playing the piano," he reflected.
To share the holiday spirit with the PDS community this year, Mr. Brechmacher recently recorded his piano arrangement of the classic 'Silver Bells' holiday carol (below). "In many of my arrangements, 'Silver Bells' included, I like to play with the rhythm and meter, giving a fresh perspective on some old standards. I also enjoy writing solo piano and four-hand arrangements of popular pieces. I'm currently in the midst of writing a set of four-hand Christmas carol arrangements to be recorded sometime soon for an album with my wife, who is also a pianist (and expecting a baby!)," Brechmacher shared.
Outside of PDS, Mr. Brechmacher has performed as a choral accompanist at Dvorak Hall in Prague; in cathedrals in Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria; at "a beautiful little church high atop a mountain" in Trinidad; and at Lincoln Center in NYC and Philadelphia's Kimmel Center. He has even played the organ for a mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. "It's amazing how many awesome experiences I've been afforded through my music," he remarked. He has also worked nearby with the Princeton Girlchoir as a collaborative pianist for the past 10 years. This year, he is primarily teaching songwriting to the oldest members of the organization.
"I'm also proud to have been published many times over with both my choral and piano compositions. One of those pieces, 'A Life Of Song', was programmed as part of the repertoire for the 2017 American Choral Directors Association's Middle School National Honors Chorus," he noted. Recently, Westminster Choir College of Rider University debuted their "Readings and Carols" concert in a pre-recorded video, which included Mr. Brechmacher's composition, 'Chanukah Prayer for Children' (below).
Fun fact about Mr. Brechmacher: he also loves painting and creating paper cutout collages and often shares his personal artwork, including the examples below, on his Instagram page.