‘Hamilton’ conductor returns to St. Paul’s to share his story

  • Kurt Crowley (left) gives a thumbs up sign after “Hamilton” wins the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album in 2016. Courtesy of Cherie B. Tay

  • Kurt Crowley (right), a 2002 graduate of St. Paul’s School and current conductor of “Hamilton,” works with a cappella students on Tuesday. Sarah Pearson / Monitor staff

  • Kurt Crowley, a '02 graduate of St. Paul's School and current conductor of "Hamilton," works with a cappella group students on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • Deli Line, one of three a cappella groups at St. Paul's School, rehearse an arrangement of Sia's "Chandelier" for visiting alum and "Hamilton" conductor Kurt Crowley on May 7, 2019. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • Kurt Crowley plays a note for the a cappella students to match during a visit to St. Paul's School on May 7, 2019. —Courtesy of Derek Thomson

  • Deli Line, one of three a cappella groups at St. Paul's School, rehearse an arrangement of Sia's "Chandelier" for visiting alum and "Hamilton" conductor Kurt Crowley on May 7, 2019. —Courtesy of Derek Thomson

  • Kurt Crowley, a St. Paul's School alumnus and conductor of "Hamilton," addresses an assembly at the school. —Courtesy of Bryan Geary

Monitor staff
Published: 5/9/2019 9:02:48 AM
Modified: 5/9/2019 9:02:38 AM

A St. Paul’s School alumnus who now conducts the music of Hamilton returned to the Concord campus on Tuesday to share his work with students.

Kurt Crowley, who graduated from the school in 2002, spoke to a cappella and theatre students in small groups and then a larger group in an afternoon assembly.

At the first meet-up of the day, he coached the schools’ three a cappella groups through some warm-ups and listened to Deli Line (the co-ed ensemble) perform a work-in-progress of Sia’s “Chandelier.”

He also told them about his time at St. Paul’s. He didn’t make the cut for the a cappella group his first year, but that by his senior year he’d won the Keiser Prize, one of the school’s top awards for music.

After largely doing musicals with community theatre back home in Helena, Mont., Crowley took a different humanities path at St. Paul’s.

He told students that at the time, he thought to himself, “I have to do serious things now.”

Crowley said he started with classes on Greek and Roman classics. He took a religion class that looked at the influence of the music of Bach. He also liked astronomy.

During that time, he said he didn’t do any of the school’s musical theatre productions.

Crowley continued his education at Harvard and graduated with a degree in music and religion.

Post-grad, he worked in regional theatres in Oregon for a few years. It was then that he saw how interdisciplinary it was to be the music director bringing a musical theatre piece together.

Crowley decided if that was going to be what he wanted to pursue, he should do it in New York City. So about eight years ago, he moved back to the East Coast.

Crowley said he said “yes” to everything that came his way.

After about six months, he was hired by Alex Lacamoire for the national tour of In the Heights, which included a stop at the Capitol Center for Arts. Heights is a musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda that premiered in 2005.

When Lacamoire was brought on as conductor of Miranda’s Hamilton in the lead up to its 2015 premier, Crowley followed him as his associate conductor.

And while he knew the creative team had previous successes, he was surprised by the cultural phenomenon Hamilton became.

He knew it was a hit when his parents in Montana were telling him “everyone is talking about Hamilton.

With Lacamoire now leading off the international efforts of Hamilton, Crowley has moved up to the main conductor role and shares the baton with a few assistant conductors.

“I thought it would be a darling of intellectuals ... but it happened to hit this sweet spot,” he said. “There was an electricity in it.”




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