We had the good fortune of connecting with Gary (Daniel Gary) Busby and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gary (Daniel Gary), how do you think about risk?
Great question. There are macro risks (move across country, the world, etc) and there are micro risks… tell your truth, every chance you get. I think if we get really clear with ourselves, being honest and speaking/acting from our most authentic selves is the most risky thing we can do, especially when we shift to that behavior. Let’s face it… being true to yourself (it sounds easy, it’s not–because the world doesn’t really reward it, especially if it cuts against the zeitgeist of the time) is one of the absolute scariest and riskiest things a person can do. You risk losing friends, family, colleagues. In the end, however, when you possess your own being, all the risk is worth it. (cue the song MY WAY), lol
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am, by trade, a conductor. I trained to conduct opera, orchestra, musicals, choirs… what that really means is that I transmit my ideas and nuances to people via body language, eye contact, words (if necessary), and energy. Conducting music is like conducting energy. Correction: it IS conducting energy. Along the way, (I guess about the time I realized that “maestro” really means “teacher”) I discovered that I loved teaching. And that, somehow, has become the raison d’être of my life. In a certain way, living is teaching. There’s a famous saying, “there are no work problems, there are only life problems” … I agree with this. Everything that I face (either on the podium or in the studio with a singer, or singers) is about what’s going on in our lives. I have learned that my work as a musician, a singer, an actor, a pedagogue, a director, an administrator, whatever it is, finds its problems and challenges in my soul’s journey. I try to “zoom out” of the minutiae of hurt feelings, anger, sadness, jealousy, whatever, and try to learn the lessons from it. With my students (and people I am coaching for a show, etc) I try to get them to identify what the issue is, first. Then, find ways to USE their dilemma in their art making. I ask people to “hide” personal secrets in text that they sing or say… so the audience starts to hear their secrets (happy or sad) and identify with them. Our job as performers is a priestly occupation. We do the work so that the people “in the pews (audience)” can sit back and “see/experience” themselves through our bodies, our gestures, our sounds, our affect. They become us, and we become them.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, Southern California is one of the richest places on the planet for diversity of topography and culture/experience. Growing up watching KABC Eyewitness News, one of the newscasters would say “From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California …” so that’s what I would set out as itinerary. I live at the beach, so Laguna, Corona Del Mar, Newport, La Jolla, Santa Monica, would all be necessary stops to walk, or sunbathe, hike, etc. The coastal towns are charming and wonderful to wander through. Sadly, some of my favorite restaurants didn’t make it through the COVID-19 pandemic, but, Carmelitas in Laguna Beach would definitely be a necessary stop.
A trip to Palm Springs and Palm Desert would be de rigeur for any visiting East Coast dweller, or friends from Europe or Asia. I love taking the tram from the desert floor to the top of the mountain … its a great way to experience the various CA climates in one 30 minute experience. A drive out to Death Valley is always thrilling for international guests.
Time permitting, a drive up the coast to Santa Barbara and Montecito would be a pleasure. Love to take folks to high tea at the Biltmore in Santa Barbara.
Closer to home, browsing through Downtown LA, Venice, Santa Monica, and Pasadena are all great day trips for guests. Having lived on the Westside, and Downtown for nearly 20 years, I love to park and walk around. The vibrance of the city–in all her forms–is exciting to share with friends from far and wide.
Of course, now that Disneyland is open again (and thankfully I have many former students who work for the park) it’s always a great time to spend a day walking through “the magic kingdom”.
The people of California are her greatest asset. Because we spend so much time in our cars, we can seem aloof. However, when you get to rub elbows with California folks, (now that it’s safer to do so, as COVID is waning) it’s wonderful to connect with people. I experience Californians (natives and transplants) as some of the most enjoyable people on earth.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Probably the two most significant influences in my life were my conducting teacher and singing teacher. They were married for 50 years. Two of the most amazing artists I’ve ever known. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t “hear” them in my mind. They are Samuel Krachmalnick and Gloria Lane. Most people (unless they are steeped in classical music, opera, music theatre from the 50s 60s and 70s) would even know their names. Sam was, among other things, the music director of the Metropolitan Opera National Company, conductor for Harkness Ballet, the original music director for Leonard Bernstein’s CANDIDE. Gloria was a mezzo-soprano who sang (among other things) CARMEN throughout the world. She sang at La Scala from 1955-1977. They retired together in Los Angeles, with their daughter Magda Lane Krachmalnick and set about teaching. They changed my life. There are so many others along the way. John Hall, Joseph Matthews, Ruth Golden. These are all my musical/ theatrical mentors. My dearest friends Christine Bates, Dyanne Gilliam, Leslie Blough, Ketu Katrak, Frank D’Accone, Linda and George Bauer, … the list is endless… people who have loved me, supported me and held the dream for me long before I could hold it for myself. To each of these wonderful humans, “I am who I am today because I knew you”