We had the good fortune of connecting with Brandon Elliott and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brandon, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk-taking is essential. The problem of risk is that no one wants to be the first to risk failure, and everyone wants to be the first to claim success––but one must be willing to fail to succeed. It is safe to say that very few people enjoy risk. It’s probably also safe to say that most people are risk-averse. But, being risk-averse doesn’t mean you don’t take a risk. The more we normalize risk and realize risk is a daily practice more than some pivotal event, the more we might be willing to take the first step. Think of all the small risks you take every day: driving to work, crossing the street, giving that meeting presentation. These daily practices have inherent risk, and we all live to see the sunrise the next morning. The more we embrace this daily practice of risk, the more capital we build within ourselves to take on more significant risks. Each time you step onto the stage, sing or play a note, or share your art with the world, that is a daring and risk-taking endeavor. Starting an organization or business is also a significant risk; failing is often greater than the odds of succeeding. Part of the process of enduring risk is accepting that it’s not about the result but rather about the journey–and drawing upon what led you to take that first step to begin with. So, as for me: risk-taking has played a significant role in my life and career. I can wholeheartedly say that I would not be where I am today had I not embraced risk. I often like to frame risk as a willingness to grow or improve; openness to experience. Embracing risk has indeed led me to fail, but I have grown, learned, improved, and shaped my life in meaningful ways I never thought possible.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I work to change lives through music. I guide students as they grow personally and professionally, giving them mentorship, education, and encouragement. I provide opportunities for composers all over the world to have their works performed, giving singers the chance to experience the unity and harmony of choral singing, and bring performances to local and virtual audiences. Like many creatives these days, I wear many hats. I am an Associate Professor of Music at Moorpark College, and Founder & Artistic Director at Choral Arts Initiative. In my free time, I consult in the arts and entertainment industry. I can’t say much of my path to get where I am today was easy. I have had to cling to my north star many times to keep me going when things get tough: I believe that music changes lives and serves as our greatest living metaphor for unity and harmony. My path contained many risks and failures, but it was my willingness to persevere–along with a great support network–to help me get to where I am today. I draw upon my past failures to help teach and prepare my students as future musicians and artists. Young musicians are faced with many roadblocks. I help them pave the way and carve out their paths. I inspire young musicians to persevere, not taking no for an answer and finding a way to pursue (and reach!) their dreams. I draw upon my incredible experiences making music to help bring people together. I draw upon my experience of traveling to different parts of the world and use music as a medium to understand people who are other than ourselves.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Assuming we aren’t in a COVID-19 world, some activities we would have to do: LA Master Chorale or LA Phil concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall or Hollywood Bowl; Disneyland; drive along stretches of Pacific Coast Highway; Griffith Observatory; hike a trail with a beautiful view (so many trail options in SoCal!); The Grove/Farmer’s Market. As for restaurants: South Beverly Grill in Beverly Hills (best place for martinis) or Hillstone in Santa Monica (best veggie burger in SoCal hands down!), Otium, Perch, or Redbird in DTLA, any good boba spot (tons of great options in SoCal!), Nonna in Westlake Village, Porto’s Bakery, so many more! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Richard Messenger, my high school music teacher. My students at Moorpark College–current and past.
Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5pUCmYNidSsQqngLnVi5i8?si=R9WfChX8Tw-ZOa1mx4Fpuw