MULTI-TALENTED ANDREA SCHEWE
PART XVIII / CONTINUED
Goose Mother: Today, we are going beyond design and sewing, which Andrea does a lot of. And, if you haven’t already guessed, she has an almost exhausting list of extracurricular activities. When I first set about with an idea of tracking Andrea Schewe down and requesting an interview, I had a bit of trouble locating her in the beginning. I was looking for a costume designer named Andrea Schewe and all I found was an opera singer by that name. Little did I know!!
Andrea, you obviously enjoy design and sewing, but I’d like to hear more about other activities that you also enjoy.
Andrea Schewe: For most people sewing is their hobby. I sew quite a lot for myself and to make gifts. However, sewing became my career. And I count myself among the lucky who are able to make a career out of a hobby in that it’s something I very much enjoy doing. But, I have a few other real hobbies.
Actually, my older son was home a while ago and I started talking about some of the extracurricular things I do and he said, “Mom … you have a LOT of hobbies.” And I guess I do.
I am very fortunate to be able to work from home. But, now that my sons are grown, it does tend to become a bit lonely for me and I find I need to get out of the house and do things; collaborative things with other people.
I mentioned earlier that I studied classical singing in college and although I never sang professionally, I had a very intense 10 – 12 years of performing Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and have done some regular operas performed in local churches with other people who had trained as opera singers but had other day jobs.
Here are photos of me as The Fairy Queen from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe”, as Czipra in The Gypsy Baron by Johann Strauss II, as Katisha in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Mikado,” as Marcellina in an updated production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and my most recent stage performance as Caroline von Krackenfelt from Gilbert and Sullivan’s rarely performed last operetta, “The Grand Duke.” (see above)
Goose Mother: Did you make all the costumes that you are wearing in the theatrical productions?
Andrea Schewe: Yes, all but the costume for the role of Marcellina; the one where I am wearing a red-haired wig.
Goose Mother: Actually, you look pretty good as a red-head. I like the those burgandy red slacks you have on too.
Andrea Schewe: The red wig was a hand-me-down from my son who had used it for a Halloween costume when he was in college. The outfit I have on is one I pulled together from the local thrift store.
Goose Mother: I’m not a big opera buff, but the roles of the characters for the productions you’ve been in encompass soprano to alto voice ranges.
Andrea Schewe: None of those roles are for a real soprano. Technically, I am considered a mezzo soprano, which literally means “half soprano” in Italian. Basically, when applied to a female voice, it designates between a soprano and alto voice. The Gilbert and Sullivan roles that I usually portray are for an older female and the way the voice is depicted vocally is, most often, to have that role portrayed by someone with a low voice and those Gilbert and Sullivan roles are low-voiced.
Further, in Mozart’s time voices were not categorized the same way we do now. The role of Marcellina was written for a soprano, but her music is lower in pitch than Suzanna and the Countess and she (Marcellina) is always played by a mezzo soprano now a days. And the gypsy, Czipra, in The Gypsy Baron is written for a mezzo soprano. Those are the roles that are the most comfortable for me vocally. But, I’m grateful for whatever part a director gives me.
Goose Mother: That’s interesting. I’m also aware that you are involved in several small, local bands. How did that come about?
Andrea Schewe: I started to have trouble with asthma in 2005 and my son, who was a music student at the local university, suggested I blow the dust off my flute case and join the community band that meets once a week there. The conductor was director of bands for 40 years there, I think. He is now retired and he conducts this band for the sheer pleasure of it. The band has about 70 members, many of whom are school music teachers or majored in music, but went into another field to make a living.
A small group of us traveled to China to perform in 2008 and this past summer we went to Slovenia and Croatia. I was a very serious flutist and piccolo player in high school and college and played Vivaldi’s C Major Piccolo Concerto in 1969 as a high school student, and then in 1972 in college. As fate would have it, this past summer marked almost exactly 40 years later, I again played that concerto with my band when we were on this trip. What a lot of practicing and stress. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to do it and I’m glad it’s over.
I’m discovering that I have a lot in common with the band members and I have become friends with some people outside rehearsals. I now have two other weekly activities that get me out of the house. One of the clarinet players in the band takes ceramic classes at a nearby community center, so four years ago I started learning to throw pots on a wheel. Little by little I’m getting better at it. There are no photos of me actually sitting at a potter’s wheel but I can show you some of the things I’ve made.
There is a retired couple in the band who started a small recorder group that meets in their home weekly. I played recorder in high school and college and when they found that out, I was invited for what was basically a tryout meeting. I have been with them for about three years now. This is why my son said, “MOM! You have a lot of hobbies.”
I guess I just like to do and make things. I enjoy being creative. I bake bread often and love to cook. I’m a bad gardener, but am too cheap to pay someone to do it for me. And, it too, is satisfying when the garden is under control.
Goose Mother: What do you intend for your future, say the next five years?
Andrea Schewe: (she laughs) Who knows what I will be doing five years from now!! Actually I hope I am doing pretty much what I am doing now. Presently, I have such a nice mix and blend of activities. I do want to try my hand at some quilting. Ummm, and maybe a little bit more travel.
(Andrea pulls forth one more snapshot)
OH! And I found a photo that is perfect for the holidays. Do you remember the very high end complicated Nativity Costumes I made about 10 years ago? Before I sent them off to Simplicity in New York, my husband, my sons and I dressed up like Mary and the Wise Men. We just couldn’t resist; it was too funny. Notice the “gifts” that the Wise Men have brought.
(we share a laugh at the photograph)
Goose Mother: I know you are working on your website. What are your plans regarding that endeavor?
Andrea Schewe: Hmmm, well, I’m learning a lot of computer technology, but I intend to start my own blog in the first part of the new year. I would really like to have it be a more interactive style with the home sewers out there. I’m open to suggestions and I truly enjoy hearing from people. I’m interested in learning what people would like to see at my site. It’s a tool for reaching out to others who share the enjoyment of sewing and design. I’m open to sharing with others the materials I use, where I purchase them. I want to hear what types of patterns they would like and maybe can’t seem to find. I’d like to discuss costumes with readers; how to wear them, what should go under them, what accessories compliment the garment and/or what accessories are appropriate for the time period. Things of that nature.
Now, I realize there are many costume enthusiasts out there and I am interested in hearing from them and learning from them as well. I even welcome those who are new to sewing and may need help or suggestions on “how-to” approach a sewing problem. From my own personal standpoint, I truly would like the blog to engage people. I don’t want it to be merely a “how I approach whatever”. I want to hear about how others resolve their design and sewing challenges and issues.
Goose Mother: I’m vying for the chance to become your first problem student! I do run with scissors. (laughter)
However, I would like to thank you for taking the extraordinary amount of time to do this interview and all you’ve shared here. It truly was a lot of fun and an honor for me! I also want to encourage the readers to visit Andrea’s website: Andrea Schewe Design and share your ideas with her. Please help her build a site and blog that inspires everyone with an interest in sewing and design.
Andrea Schewe: I had a lot of fun doing this interview, so I’ve enjoyed this time as well. Also, I’d like to wish everyone out there a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year!