1989 graduate, Patrick Burnett
Life After GDYO, with Patrick Burnett
My own experience and involvement in the arts has made me a more well-rounded person…
Q&A with Patrick
Tell us your GDYO Story. What years were you in the program, and what ensembles?
I was a member of the double bass section of GDYO from 10th through 12th grades, so that would’ve been 1987-1989. Also, as a younger boy I was the concertmaster of an early iteration of what is now the YPO in 5th and 6th grades, 1981-1982, when I still played the violin.
Do you still play? Tell us about that.
I don’t play bass anymore, but when I was studying music as a young man, I also took classical voice training, so I still sing to this day. For a while in my youth and into adulthood, I have played or sung with the Dallas Symphony, Richardson Symphony, Irving Philharmonic, Mesquite Symphony, Irving Chorale, Turtle Creek Chorale, and Vocal Majority. Right now, I’m working on my voice chops and my courage so that I can audition for the Dallas Symphony Chorus.
What have you been up to since leaving GDYO?
I started college in 1989 as a Performance (vocal and instrumental) and Music Theory major at The Juilliard School in New York. I came back to Dallas when a close family member was diagnosed with a serious illness and the prognosis was grim. After a series of life changes, I ended up with two doctoral degrees in Political Science and History. Putting my education into practice, I am now, in my spare time, an Adjunct Professor at Collin County College, currently teaching European History.
Serendipitously, I ended up as a relational database programmer for a large oil and gas company in Dallas in the summer of 1991. I stuck with a career in technology after college, and I am now the Principal Network Architect for a global communications company.
Looking back on your college experience, what is one piece of advice that you would give to a student pursuing a music degree, like besides just practicing?
Never lose your passion to achieve and grow and broaden yourself. Always strive to do more and be better at whatever you decide to do. Practice and rehearsal in music is only a function of exercising the passion you have. Grow that passion. Never lose the desire to be better. And an important facet of achieving anything, at least for me, is not being afraid to fail. Failure taught me how to succeed, because I learned what not to do or what I needed to improve upon to get to the place I wanted to be with whatever it was that I wanted to achieve. That has been a universal truth for me, both professionally and personally.
Looking back on your time outside of school, what are some things that have most surprised you about your adult life?
It might be cliché, but the lessons I learned as a youngster are applicable in adult life – work ethic from my parents, focus on goals from my music study thanks to my erstwhile teacher, Clifford Spohr, and not settling for the status quo from my freshman English professor in college.
People that know me well tell me I am living as they predicted, so I suppose in a way there are not too many surprises. In high school, I guess I was a bit of a Renaissance man, if one prefers that verbiage. I lettered in three varsity sports – football, baseball, and soccer. I was, and still am, a pure academic; my thirst for knowledge has never once been quenched. I was also heavily involved in the arts; I was in the Orchestra, the Jazz Band, the Concert Choir, and since I couldn’t act my way out of a paper bag, I was the stage, sound, and light director for all the Theater groups.
I’m still a patron and avid consumer of all art forms. That love of the arts has manifested itself in volunteer work, making provision for arts education and artistic outlets for children, both the privileged and the underserved, all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. It’s very important to me to help make sure future generations of our youth are not only exposed to the arts in all forms, but also that they are encouraged to take up artistic pursuits, at the very least as an avocation. My own experience and involvement in the arts has made me a more well-rounded person; and it’s very pleasing to have artistic outlets, whether in practice or patronage, to feed that part of who I am. If I didn’t have that, I fear I would not be as well a man I am today.