Having grown up in a family of musicians, Jonathan Busarow’s path to music education might appear to be a foregone conclusion. But that wasn’t necessarily the case.
“I always thought of music seriously, but I wasn’t necessarily thinking of it as a profession. My aspirations were the usual – doctor, lawyer – but when I was in high school and thinking about college, I had to decide what I wanted to study. My mom was a music teacher and didn’t want me to be a music teacher, but I couldn’t think of anything more rewarding than to make music for a living. So when I was in high school, I decided I wanted to study music and pursue it as a career.”
Busarow’s mother had reason for concern, given that music and teaching are both pursuits that rarely lead to financial windfalls. But Busarow has found his own riches in the years since he earned his undergraduate degree at Valparaiso University and his graduate degree at Ohio State. After returning to Valparaiso for a year of teaching at his alma mater, he moved to Fort Wayne to assume the position of artistic director for the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir, a job he has filled for the past three years. He found both the job and the city a good fit.
“The job was the perfect culmination,” he says. “It was relatively close to home in Dayton, and my wife and I were looking for a place to set down roots. And we’ve done just that. We’ve bought our first home and started a family here. When I came here to interview, I got to work with the choir for two days, and I knew this would be a good opportunity. I was already familiar with Fort Wayne Children’s Choir since I was friends with Fred Meads who was the former artistic director for the choir. So I knew what kind of program it was, and I saw the people who were here – the staff and the community – and I knew it was a good situation.”
Having gained much of his experience with choirs at Valparaiso and Ohio State, the biggest change for Busarow would be working with much younger singers. But he says that hasn’t been a difficult transition.
“I was asked about that during the interview process. They said, ‘You’re used to working with college students. Is it going to be hard to work with younger kids?’ But good teaching is good teaching is good teaching. Every kid here wants to be here, and their parents want them to be here. They have a vested interest in doing great things musically, which means their desire is as high as any college student’s. Plus my personality is very young in spirit, so I think that resonates with them. They’ve bought into the program, and to see students understanding concepts gives me a lot of energy. I’ve gotten more extroverted as I’ve gotten older, and I gain energy from other people. To see these kids learning and getting new concepts is the highlight of my day.”
Although he was familiar with FWCC through his friendship with Meads, three years had elapsed between Meads’ 2009 departure and Busarow’s 2012 arrival. In that interim, a few things had slipped through the cracks, providing Busarow with an opportunity to make some adjustments.
When I came here the organization was going through a few years of transition. Fred Meads had used the Kodaly method, which was how I met him. We were both trained in that method together. But in the interim that had fallen off the radar a bit, so I wanted to restore the Kodaly method and continue to build the program.”
The program has built in remarkable ways over the years, as Busarow has discovered recently as he’s worked to raise funds to buy new risers for the choir. Fort Wayne Children’s Choir, in existence for 43 years, owned just five 25-year-old risers.
“I wondered why there were only five risers, and I discovered that when they were purchased 25 years ago, there were only 60 kids in the choir. Now we have more than 230, which shows you what has happened over the years. And I wanted to return us to a high musical standard.”
His ability to chart the organization’s future has grown in the last eight months since his job title has expanded to executive artistic director. Following the departure last summer of Denice Beights, who had served as executive director, Busarow has taken on the administrative aspects of running the choir as well. He concedes it’s a job he wasn’t necessarily trained for, but it’s one he is enjoying.
“It was hard for me at first, and there’s a steep learning curve. It’s not what I went to school to learn to do, but thanks to a very supportive board of directors, I’m making the transition. It’s not a hard transition; I prefer to think of it as an adventure. There are a lot of things to learn – applying for grants, reporting on grants – and finding a balance in my schedule is uniquely challenging. But when I go downstairs from my office at IPFW to choir rehearsal, I see why I’m doing all of that. I do all of those administrative jobs and then get to see it all come to fruition artistically.”
Having settled into his new dual role, Busarow is looking ahead to expanding the reach of Fort Wayne Children’s Choir. Busarow hopes to reach out to children who may not even know the choir exists or who have a difficult time reaching them financially or geographically. Busarow hopes to expand the choir and make it more diverse, allowing more kids to reap the rewards of music education.
There are also big plans on the horizon for summer trips with the choir, including a 2016 trip to Hungary to visit the home of Zoltan Kodaly, the father of the Kodaly method Busarow teaches. There will also be trips to Salzburg and Vienna, where The Sound of Music was set and filmed. Learning the method and seeing how and why it originated will connect children to why they approach music as they do because Busarow says their ability to read music rather than perform by rote provides them with a lifelong skill. But beyond special trips and events, the daily work of the choir is what fulfills Busarow’s hopes when he chose music as his career – and allows the choir’s children to dream their own dreams.
“The organization is always looking to grow. We already serve 237 kids, and that may seem like a lot, but there are more kids in the community who would benefit from the music education we have to offer.”
Thursday, April 27
Click on the headings below for full calendars
Click header for complete Things To Do calendar
Community Unity — Community dinner, games and prizes, and neighborhood safety forum, 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, Jennings Recreation Center, Fort Wayne, free, 427-6028
Issues and Ales — Panel of experts discuss important issues in the community with audience Q&A , 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, Calhoun Street Soups, Salads and Spirits, Fort Wayne, free, 456-7005
Click header for complete On the Road calendar
Click header for complete Music & Comedy calendar
Chris Worth — Variety at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
Fort Wayne Comedy Connection — Comedy at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Hubie Ashcraft — Acoustic at River View Tavern, Decatur, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 724-3500
Open Mic — Hosted by Mike Mowry at Pedal City, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 415-6167
Click header for complete Karaoke & DJs calendar
Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Karaoke at Pine Valley Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., no cover, 490-9464
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at AJ's Bar and Grill, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 434-1980
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Josh — Karaoke at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., no cover, 422-5055
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — Variety at Chevvy's, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., ,
Karaoke w/Bucca — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Karaoke with Rooster — Variety at By: Belle Haven, South Whitley, 8 p.m., no cover, 866-716-9243
Shooting Star Prod. w/Stu — Variety at Office Tavern, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 478-5827
Shut Up and Sing — Karaoke at Duesy's Sports Bar, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 483-5681
Three Rivers Karaoke — at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 483-1311
Click header for complete Stage & Dance calendar
Little Shop of Horrors — IPFW Department of Theatre performance of Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical comedy, 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, April 26-29, Williams Theatre, IPFW, Fort Wayne, $5-$18, 481-6555
Click header for complete Movie times
Click header for complete Art calendar
37th National Print Exhibition — Juried exhibition featuring contemporary printmakers from around the nation, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
41st SOCA Student Exhibition — Works from students currently enrolled at USF’s School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 30, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Echolilia — Works from Timothy Archibald and his autistic son, Eli, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Diane Allen Groenert — Exhibition of local artist’s Downtown Series and new works, Monday-Saturday thru June 24, West Central Microcreamery & Cafe, Fort Wayne, 415-9293
Expressions of Existence — An exhibition of works by artists through history, including Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and others whose works have been influenced by disabilities, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Fort Wayne Artist Guild Exhibitions — Works by Alice Siefert at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Jennifer Caudel at Allen County Retinal Surgeons, Anita Trick, Citizens Square (2nd and 3rd floors), Darlene Selzer Miller at The Einhaus Group for Women’s Health, Patricia Weiss at Heritage of Fort Wayne, Emily Jane Butler at Ophthalmology Consultants (Southwest), Linda Binek at Ophthalmology Consultants (North), Carolyn Stachera at Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, John Kelty at ResCare Inc. Adult Day Service, Wiletta Blevins at Town House Retirement, Karen Bixler at Visiting Nurse Hospice and Barb Yoder and Karen Harvey at Will Jewelers, thru April 30, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Fort Wayne Photographers Club — Exhibition featuring local photographers, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 30, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Glass: A Medium in Art and Automobiles — Dale Chihuly blown glass and fiberglass auto, daily thru Sept. 8, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, $7.50-$12.50, 925-1444
Jan Krist-Finkbeiner — Exhibition of ceramic reliefs, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Kathy Funderburg & Diane Schafer-King — Acrylic paintings (Funderburg) and works in marbled paper and fabric (Schaefer-King), Monday-Saturday thru April 29, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Rhoda Gerig: The Hope of Eagles — Photographic images of eagles, daily thru June 4, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102
Sharon — An exhibition of Leon Borensztein photographs chronicling the struggles he faced raising his severely disabled daughter, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
SOCA Graduate Program: Student Highlights — Juried exhibition of works by students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts graduate program, Monday-Friday thru April 30, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Exhibition of works by IPFW graduation seniors, daily thru May 3 , Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, Main Library, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Senior thesis projects from Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates Brenda Drayer (sculpture), Derek Hibbs (printmaking), Ellen Mensch (painting), Nathaniel Morris (sculpture) and Kyle Snodgrass (sculpture), daily thru May 7, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring Palette — New original works by more than 50 nationally recognized artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru April 30, Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568