Stephen Kraynak, 5th Section
Most people know that there are four sections in a men’s chorus: Tenor I, Tenor II, Baritone and Bass. But did you know Reveille has a 5th Section? Those are all the people who are working behind the scenes to support the chorus and make it possible for the music to happen. We are happy to feature one such 5th Section member in today's profile, Stephen Kraynak. Steve is an officer of the Reveille Board of Directors, not only is he Secretary but he also is the Grant Writer for Reveille. In addition Steve is our Ticket Master.
When were you born? In a previous century.
Where did you grow up? I tried to grow up on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio, but it was very difficult. Tough neighborhood. I’m still working on it.
When did you move to Tucson? May 20, 2011.
What brought you to Tucson? My life partner, Bob Gordon. We were living in Columbus, Ohio at the time. One day he said to me, “Get in the car. We’re moving. I’m sick of Midwest winters and I’m not going to take it any more.” I didn’t even have time to pack my Easy-Bake Oven. Consequently, Bob does all the baking now, he fancies tarts. We arrived in Amarillo, Texas on day three. After looking around there for about three seconds, I said, “No way! Keep driving!” On the fourth day we arrived in Tucson. So, here we are, desert rats.
What did you do for a living? Taught in the Columbus City Schools for thirty-five years. English-Language Arts. Grades 2 through 12. Teacher-Librarian. Mentor teacher and professional development. Did I just write some incomplete sentences?
How long have you been volunteering with Reveille? Since May 22, 2011, two days after we arrived in Tucson. Looking for something to do, we drove to the Tucson Temple of Music and Art where Reveille Men’s Chorus was performing Out Of the West We Come. We met Gene Carlson at the ticket table and he recruited both of us. Actually, he was kind of pushy. He said he needed to recruit just two more volunteers to get enough points to win a toaster. Our lives have never been he same. (Neither has Gene’s. Since he can’t cook, his toaster comes in handy.)
What motivated you to join the board? Because most of the Board members are out late on Saturday nights warming up their vocal chords, they needed a Secretary who could write legibly on Sunday mornings. Since I spel correctly and use awful good gramer, they chose me.
What keeps you coming back? I like the people. Lots of friendly men and women who volunteer their time and talent to Reveille. Being active in Reveille is a great way to make friends and be a friend.
How are things different at Reveille than at the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus? Both are fantastic choral groups. Reveille has fewer members, so it’s somewhat easier to get to know everyone. Both choruses have a great sound and stage presence. I have experienced both creating deep feelings among many members of their respective audiences.
Did you ever think about singing with Reveille? Yes, but then I think of the quote from Colin Firth, “My singing voice is somewhere between a drunken apology and a plumbing problem.”
Now that you’ve been with Reveille for a couple of years what is your fondest chorus memory so far? Last spring I attended a grant writing workshop at the Tucson Pima Arts Council. At its conclusion I extended my hand and introduced myself to the Arts Council’s Executive Director, Roberto Bedoya, telling him I was from Reveille Men’s Chorus. The first thing he said to me was, “You guys have a lot of fun, don’t you?” I think that’s important for all of us to remember as we invest our time and energy in preparing for every show. Our patrons buy tickets because they love our music, but they also know that going to a Reveille show means they will have fun, along with all of us on stage and in the fifth section.
When you were a little boy what did you dream of being when you grew up? A railroad engineer. But I only got as far as having a Lionel model train, which I still have.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Any hobbies? I am writing my memoirs and I am looking for other writers who want to be part of a writers’ critique group. I also volunteer in my church and community.
What's your favorite place to hang-out here in Tucson? My back patio. We have a panoramic view of the south and west horizons, great for sunset watching all year round.
Any favorite restaurants? Vivace, Gusto, Rene’s Organic Oven, Zivaz, Blanco, Blue Willow, Pastiche, Kingfisher, Wild Flower, and Subway
What's your favorite movie? I have two: A Room With a View and Sweet Land
What kind of music do you enjoy listening to? I like to relax with classical guitar or gregorian chant.
What's your biggest regret? Not having come out at a younger age.
What really pisses you off? So-called religious persons who judge others, particularly those who read the Bible to do so. And hypocrites, especially politicians.
What's your best asset? I’m a good listener.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? Actually, I like who I am and where I am in my life right now. So, why contemplate changing myself? It will happen anyway. It already has.
If you could go back in time and change one decision you made when you were younger what would that be? I would have paid more attention to my ancestry and would have explored my family genealogy more extensively.
If you could choose one person (any person living or dead) to spend an evening with who would that be? My paternal grandfather, Stephen Kraynak, also my namesake. He died at age thirty-one, long before I was born. I would like to talk with him about his life and our family history in Slovakia.
If you won the lottery tomorrow how would it change about the way you live?
I think I would endow Reveille’s Artistic Director.
Who do you admire the most? Hillary Clinton. Give ‘em hell, Hillary, in 2016!
Any parting words you’d care to share? “Music is my religion.” --Jimi Hendrix, “The only thing better than singing is more singing.” --Ella Fitzgerald