Chorale Conversations: Lionell Pack, bass

Lionell Pack, bass

Tell us a bit about your musical background, including how many years you have sung in a choir?

I started my musical journey at age 4 on a 1/16-size violin (which I still have). I’ve played a variety of instruments since, from cello to piccolo. My long-term instrumental passion is the piano, which I’ve been playing since 1989, and I’ve played flute with quite a few bands and orchestras. My vocal experience started in high school, where I joined every choir I could. I went on to sing with QUMS for a few years, which brought me up to about 7 years of choir experience. I’ve now been with Brisbane Chorale for around six months.

What made you fall in love with choral music?

I love the variety of music I can be involved in. Singing in choirs has given me the chance to perform everything from modern pop, through Gilbert & Sullivan, to masses written hundreds of years ago. Singing also has a pervasiveness that instrumental music doesn’t: I’ve never brought out the flute or piano at a work event, but I have ended up at a few karaoke evenings after work!

Why did you decide you wanted to be part of Brisbane Chorale?

I had taken a few years’ break from music and was looking for a new musical outlet. When a work colleague asked me if I was interested in joining Brisbane Chorale, I jumped at the chance – and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

What’s your favourite choral performance that you’ve been a part of and why?

Much of my choral experience was at high school, where I had both orchestral and vocal commitments. I went to a boys’ school, so the choir could do without a bass singer more easily than the orchestra could replace a flautist. That meant when we did joint works, I missed out on singing. So for my favourite choral performance – selections from Verdi’s Il Trovatore – I wasn’t actually singing, but sitting in the orchestra! Another stand-out performance (and one in which I actually did sing) was a collaboration between the Grammarphones and Girls Grammar Senior Choir singing a Phantom of the Opera medley in City Hall.

Inside many choral singers is a frustrated soloist! If you were a world-famous singer choosing repertoire for your next concert tour, which piece of music would you absolutely have to include and why?

I’m a tremendous fan of all forms of opera, but I have so many favourites that it’s tough to choose! Gilbert & Sullivan have some great moments, and Les Miserables has always been a favourite of mine – but the one solo I would most love to perform (with apologies to the string players in the orchestra!) is The Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera.

Tell us a little about your occupation, what you do when not hard at work learning Chorale repertoire!

I’m a software engineer, although these days I mostly manage others and don’t spend much time “on the tools”. I love the variety my career gives me: I’ve worked in fields from anti-money-laundering to weather forecasting, and if I ever get bored, there will always be another industry which needs software engineers. I’m currently working on an engineering uplift program for a Digital Experience Platform – think WordPress, but more enterprisey.

Besides singing, do you have any special talents or skills you’d like to share with us?

My main skill is in picking up new skills! Both my music and engineering careers have been highly varied, and it’s been the same with other parts of my life, like sport – I’ve rowed, played tennis, golfed, have my 2nd dan black belt in taekwondo, and was a competitive swimmer and volunteer lifeguard for many years. The saying “variety is the spice of life” certainly resonates with me!