Sitting down with David Warrack was a real treat for me. David strikes me as someone who has, over time, become even more passionate about the arts and living a creative lifestyle. He has not become jaded or bitter about certain projects not going the way he wanted or maybe not even being produced at all. He has figured out a way to adapt and go with the flow of change in the industry through his career as an artist. David is a real champion of the artist. Your success is his success and he strives to create that kind of supportive environment wherever he goes by creating and producing new work, cheering on his colleagues, and most of all listening to the thoughts and feelings of others until they feel understood.
The last thing he said to me before we parted was, “I am only an email away” and after spending time with him, I knew he meant it. Sometimes it’s what people say that impacts me the most and sometimes it's the impact of who they are that leaves the biggest impression. With David, it was both.
In this episode, we discuss what changes he would like to see happen in the entertainment industry, why he believes every artist should explore writing on some level, what was the biggest takeaway from his lunch with Leonard Bernstein and so much more!
David Warrack: Anything Is Possible. Create It.
Conductor, Pianist, Organist, Composer, Lyricist, Book-Writer, Musical Director, Orchestrator, Arranger, Singer, Vocal Coach, Music Producer, Producer (theatre, television, recordings), Guest Lecturer, Teacher
Toured for fifteen years with Maureen Forrester, starting with the Vancouver Symphony at EXPO 86 (CD), 5 years with Jeff Hyslop (CD), and 8 years with Michael Burgess, in each case as Musical Director/Accompanist/Conductor. In 2013, enjoyed a 19 concert cross Canada tour with Rebecca Caine and Michael Burgess. 2010 – 2015: conductor of the Rose Orchestra in Brampton. Starting in 2017 – touring with the quartet of Rebecca Caine, Ben Heppner, Gary Relyea, and Jean Stillwell.
Musical Director of over 200 shows for stage or television, including SHENANDOAH on Broadway, 9 of Ross Petty’s Pantomimes at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre, the cross Canada tour of JACQUES BREL …, the Vancouver production of UNFORGETTABLE, seven consecutive years at the Elora Festival, and all of the CBC’s DuMAURIER SEARCH FOR STARS. Founding Conductor of the Canada Pops Orchestra.
Credited as writer or co-writer of 79 professionally produced musicals, including some of the longest running shows in Toronto’s Theatre History (FLICKS, SWEET REASON, THE VAUDEVILLIANS, TEASE FOR TWO). ROB ROY opened at the Edinburgh Festival (Scotland) in 2006 to rave reviews, and was recorded in 2007. More recently, THE THREE DAVIDS (the music of David Shire, David Frishberg, and David Warrack) premiered in 2013. A SNOW WHITE CHRISTMAS, written with Norm Foster, premiered at Theatre Collingwood in 2014. The Oratorio ABRAHAM premiered in Toronto in 2015 with Richard Margison in the starring role, along with a cast of 6, plus the Bach Children’s Choir and the Elmer Iseler Singers. Current: SHE’S NO LADY in workshop; CATWALK optioned as a film.
Beginning with the 1972 radio special of the Charlottetown Festival’s BALLADE (orchestrator, conductor), over 40 years as a studio musician. Recent: THE SECOND TIME AROUND (film).
Huge body of choral and instrumental work.
Created role of Jack Ayre in THE DUMBELLS at the Charlottetown Festival. Shared the stage over the years with iconic performers, including Ronnie Hawkins, Don Harron, Len Cariou (most recently at 2013 Stratford Music Festival), Sheila McCarthy, Marilyn Lightstone, Sheila Brand, Brent Carver, Louise Pitre, Juan Chioran, George Masswohl, Mary Pitt, Thom Allison, Ma Anne Dionisio, Cynthia Dale, and Amanda Martinez. Recently performed with the Bravura Baritones. Playing for Blues/Gospel Diva Jackie Richardson in October and November. THE UNIVERSE IS DANCING (one man show) in October (Guelph,
then the Jazz Bistro in Toronto). CD release Hugh’s Room. In December.Christmas/Hanukkah show with Theresa Tova.
1980: produced TORONTO TORONTO, which ran for three years, followed by 2 years of TORONTO TORONTO 2. 1981: He had six shows running simultaneously in Toronto and he produced the award-winning CBC television superspecial ALL FOR ONE. 1981 – 1983, he produced the Dora Mavor Moore Award shows for Toronto theatre, the only three years they were ever televised. He has won three Doras: producing TORONTO TORONTO, producing ON TAP, and music directing CLOSER THAN EVER.
Starting in 1985, he was a regular guest on Peter Gzowski’s MORNINGSIDE (CBC radio) singing his trademark satirical songs, and creating songs spontaneously.
Organist/Choir Director at Hillcrest Christian Church since 2006.
Part of three man artistic team (along with Michael James and Kevin McCormick) who created SONGS OF THE CITY for United Way Toronto (now United Way Toronto/York Region) in 2015, a theatrical event originally presented at the Jane Mallet Theatre, which matches up three United Way speakers who have been “rescued” by a United Way sponsored organization with a three composers who each write a song about his or her experience. These songs are then performed during the evening, along with other selections which celebrate the renewal of the human spirit. A second SOTC took place this past spring, and a third is happening in April, 2017, moving into the 1,000-seat Wintergarden Theatre. A version took place last year in Fredericton, New Brunswick , and one is being planned for Halifax, Nova Scotia early in 2017. Created as a Donor Appreciation Event, SONGS OF THE CITY has had a huge impact already in terms of increased pledges to support the remarkable work of United Way in the community.
While the ongoing involvement in the various segments of the arts community has not allowed David the time to contribute to the education of up and coming artists that he might have preferred, he has maintained a presence in developing students to become professional artists. For 20 years, he has been on the faculty of the Avenue Road Arts School. He participated in the BMI Music Theatre Workshops in New York and Toronto, originally conceived by Lehman Engel. When BMI no longer supported the Toronto workshops, Mr. Warrack kept them going on his own initiative. He has taught part-time at the Randolph Academy and the Ryerson Theatre School, and given numerous guest lectures at Sheridan College (now University). For many years he was on the advisory board of Humber College, and he is currently on the advisory board of the Toronto Film School.
He is also an honorary member of IATSE.
David is married to Lona Davis, a celebrated musician in her own right, and they are blessed with three children – Gordon (Jessica), Cayleigh (Patrick) and Levi, as well as four grandchildren: Alexis, Grayson, Griffin, and Neave, all three years old or younger!
Connect with David!
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