The Austin Civic Orchestra is pleased to welcome Pam Cosel to its team as operations director. Pam is an artistic, approachable person who brings to the role a wealth of experience working with various performing arts groups. Learn more about Pam in the following Q&A.
What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
Friendly, highly organized, creative.
What excites you most about the orchestra’s upcoming season?
Much excites me about this season in particular is the theme, Destination: Europe. I very much look forward to serving Dr. Lois Ferrari, the ACO board, and the orchestra members to help things run smoothly as the season begins to unfold. There is much to be done, and I like being an organizer. Because I’ve also opened up a new performing arts center in my career, I feel I will be right at home to help with the aspects of the concerts that fall within my responsibilities. I like to get to know new people such as orchestra staff and members, and be among those who are passionate about making exciting music.
Why did you want to work with the Austin Civic Orchestra?
This job opening came at the perfect time for me. I retired from full-time city government work on June 30, which I’d done off-and-on for 14 years, in addition to work in media and nonprofits in my career. I wanted to work part-time from home in a position related to the arts and music, devoting my time to things I enjoy and am passionate about. At one time, I worked for the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder so this ACO Operations Director job seemed like the perfect opportunity. As I’m a singer with Chorus Austin, too, I can relate to the performance side of operations and its excitement of producing beautiful music.
Are you involved in any other artistic activities?
I sing Soprano II with Chorus Austin and this will be my third season. However, I’ve sung in choirs since age 12, through high school and in college at the University of Illinois. I wanted to be a high school choir director, but it wasn’t in the cards when later my bachelor’s degree instead was in communication / journalism. My involvement with music has been a constant: I played the accordion as a child (I still have it!), the piano (beginner), the folk harp, just got a mandolin to learn after picking on the guitar for a while, and dabbled for a year on the violin. But choral singing has been my firmest path. I was in the Greeley (Colorado) Chorale for 18 years, and participated in a two-week singing tour to Scotland and England with them in the early 1990s. I sang with the Arvada (Colorado) Chorale for a time, and was eight years with a 150-voice church choir before moving to Austin. I’m also a writer with many projects that beckon me, from short stories to trying my hand at songwriting. I’m a member of the Austin Blues Society and former president of the board. As an aside, I also stage wine glass painting events, so you’ll see me swirling a paint brush as if it’s a mini-baton — all together being artistic activities!
What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received?
I learned when in my thirties that adhering to chain-of-command is important — not that I’m militaristic about it — but we each have a role in life to play. It was a lesson I haven’t forgotten, because it means having respect for others and following rules where it counts. In an orchestra or a choir, members must work together for a common outcome, so it seems good advice to me. Yet, being a creative person, one has to follow his or her own path and not give up dreams. I continue to pursue mine, even at this age.
- Composers: As a young girl, I fell in love with George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” I would listen to it over and over. More contemporary, of course, than Bach or Handel or Mozart. I like those three, plus Rachmaninoff
- Classical Music Pieces: Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” — as well as Handel’s “Messiah”
- Hobbies: Playing my instruments when I can. I also make stained glass windows (since 1980), and I love to work in the garden for hours —Texas heat no matter.
- Thing to Do in Austin: Kayak on Lady Bird Lake
- Books: Too many to name! I am an avid reader. I owned a mobile book fair business for two years, and my garage warehouse held 700 titles of product — I was in heaven!
- Food: I eat healthy most days, so fruits and vegetables are a mainstay. But Texas BBQ or homemade soup, mmmmm. I love to bake pies of any kind and won’t turn down anything chocolate.