Have you ever been around a person that is so focused, passionate and immersed in what they do that they almost vibrate with enthusiasm? Paula DeWitt-Krause is one of those people and I must admit that her passion and dedication to her music is infectious.
Paula comes from a very musical family. Her father was a trumpet player with the Canadian Military Band while her mother, who was a medical benefits administrator with Ontario Health, was both a baritone and keyboard player. “I have two older brothers and Peter plays the trumpet while Gerald plays the baritone,” she smiled. Music was a way of life for the family and they played together both at home and at church.
School was a breeze for Paula; she was a natural leader and a truly gifted student who ended up skipping a grade. She took up the tenor sax in the ninth grade and by the tenth grade her teacher was looking for a clarinet player so she took on that challenge. Eventually, following her father’s footsteps, she also began playing the trumpet and while she enjoyed all three instruments, she became focused on becoming and outstanding trumpet player. She was unquestionably ambitious and began conducting band classes while still in high school. “My teacher was awesome. He pushed me to be the best that I could be,” she said. Paula also directed her first choir when she was just eighteen.
She was exposed to and had an appreciation for all kinds of music when she was younger. “I was into everything except for hard rock but I must admit that I was most comfortable with orchestral and choral music combined,” she admitted.
After high school, Paula went on to attend Queen’s University in Kingston to obtain a degree in music education. “I ended up deciding that I didn’t want to teach, I wanted to be a player,” she said convincingly. Not long after, the Canadian Forces posted auditions for musicians and given her father’s career and the example that he set for her, she decided to audition. With the military, as was the case when she had auditioned for university, she was accepted on either instrument; the clarinet and trumpet. “I chose the trumpet because for me there was coloration between that instrument and the ability to play a leadership role in a band,” she said.
After Queen’s University, Paula studied music for two years at the Canadian Forces School of Music and began her career with the Royal Canadian Regiment Band in Gagetown, New Brunswick. After her stint here, she was posted to Chilliwack and went on to play trumpet with the Canadian Forces for eleven years. During her tenure, she was featured regularly as a vocal soloist and performed extensively throughout Canada, the US, Belgium, France and Germany. She retired from the Forces fifteen years ago and has fond memories of her military career. “I totally enjoyed it. It was a really good life,” she said rather nostalgically.
Paula’s professional career has been a balance between conducting and playing. She has prepared choirs to perform beloved opera choruses, various choral octavos and great choral masterpieces. Currently, she is the resident conductor with the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. She became a conductor with the Chilliwack Symphony in 2009 and has been their Chorus Director since 2000. While she knew that she had the absolute ability to conduct, Paula decided to receive certification for that ability and thus, in 2007, began attending Capilano University to study higher level conducting and advanced choral preparation techniques under the tutelage of Maestro Lars Kaario. She went on to receive her professional conducting certificate and has continued to take workshops and voice lessons to stay on top of her game.
Paula’s dedication to her music is all consuming, leaving her little time for anything else. She is the Music Director for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, was the Music Director for the Chilliwack School of Performing Arts’ productions of Once Upon a Mattress and Willy Wonka as well as UFV’s Main Stage production of Paper Wheat. She plays trumpet professionally with Sinfonia and is currently working with the Chilliwack Player’s Guild as the Orchestra Conductor and is playing lead trumpet for their presentation of the five time Tony award winning musical, The Drowsy Chaperone. “It’s playing at the Cultural Centre until April sixteenth,” she quickly added.
Paula is the kind of person that pays special attention to every detail and she’s also committed to making great music in Chilliwack. “By the urging of many, I’ve founded another opera troupe in Chilliwack and we’re going to be doing The Pirates of Penzance in the very near future,” she beamed.
“Do you have any down time?” I wondered. “Not really,” she said smiling, admitting that she does enjoy yoga for its calming affects.