Warren W. Ottey
8596 Cazenovia Road
Manlius, NY 13104
May 17, 2011
To Whom It May Concern:
I am a choral conductor based in Syracuse, NY, where I am Music Director of the Syracuse Chorale, an 80-voice oratorio choir, now in our 58th consecutive season. I am also Music Director of The Master’s Touch Chorale, a 40-voice Christian Choir in our 19th season, and Music Director/Organist at The Episcopal Church of St. Mark the Evangelist here in Syracuse. Earlier, I spent many years as a professional church soloist on Philadelphia’s Main Line. In that area I was also known as an oratorio and opera soloist; and I was the founder and director of Berks Grand Opera, which performed major operas in Reading, PA, for more than 19 years. I am writing to you today on behalf of Robert Milne, composer of the brand new opera, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
It has been my extreme pleasure to know Robert Milne, the renowned ragtime pianist and composer, during the almost 52 years since we entered the freshman class of Eastman School of Music together in the fall of 1959.In those days, Bob was the best French horn player in the school, with a tone reminiscent of that of the late Dennis Brain.Bob also possesses a brain for music like that of W.A. Mozart!
In the years since Bob has gained fame as a pianist, I have been privileged to hear him give recitals many times, including his brilliant ragtime recital at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC; and I have marveled at his ability, his facility, and his educational witticisms on every occasion!Within the last two years, Bob has written the aforementioned opera, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, based not only upon the famous story by Washington Irving, but also on Bob’s exhaustive research of the history, lore, and actual historical characters of the Dutch settlement along the Tappan Zee.In April of 2010, Bob had me fly out to his Michigan home to not only hear the initial score of his opera, but to advise him on the voicing and range of the numerous choral sections of the work.As we pored over the opera score and listened to it for three days, I was enthralled by the music and the plot of the opera, by the arias and ensembles, by the often rollicking, but sometimes somber choral passages.But more than all that, I was moved by the sensitivity and love that Bob has imbedded in the music and in the principal characters of the opera, and by his Passionate ongoing commentary which described his overall vision for the finished work and its performances that would follow.
Now Robert Milne’s thrilling opera is complete, and I believe that its premiere will be sensational as performed by a major opera company.Furthermore, I believe its subsequent performances will attract a great company of devotees, serious opera lovers and novice listeners alike, at this very moment in history when the classic arts need just such a vehicle to give us all an exciting boost!I, for one, will attend the premiere of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; and I greatly anticipate sharing the joy of Bob Milne in its years of continuing success!
Warren Ottey, Music Director
Syracuse Chorale, Inc.