Olympic dream comes true for K-State music instructor

Minh Mac | Collegian Bryan Pinkall, instructor of music and administrative Director for the K-state Summer Choral Institute, was chosen to help stage the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

He’s been obsessed with the Olympic Games since he was little, when he would watch everything he could on TV during the games, tape it and watch it over and over again. He never thought he would actually have the opportunity to be a part of it.

Bryan Pinkall, instructor of music at K-State, has been selected by the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games as a producer for the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“I’ve always wanted to be a part of this,” Pinkall said. “I never thought it would actually happen.”

Pinkall, who called himself “an enormous Olympic nerd,” found the job opening for producer of the Olympic Opening Ceremony posted online two years ago. He said he applied for it, but didn’t think anything of it until six months later when he received a call for an interview.

After that initial interview, Pinkall spent the next five months going through an interview and testing process. He said his days consisted of teaching at K-State, going home and going to bed, waking up at 1 a.m. for interviews via Skype and going back to bed until it was time to get up for work the next morning.

Gary Mortenson, director of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, said Pinkall never does anything halfway. Mortensen said he sees this opportunity for Pinkall as a continuation of the qualities Pinkall already possesses, which include “a wonderful mix of talent and passion.”

This is Pinkall’s first year teaching at K-State, the university from which he graduated with a Masters in Music in 2010. He received his Doctorate from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2013, where he was a Kauffman Scholar.

Julie Yu, associate professor of music and co-director of choral studies, said Pinkall is incredibly talented but also very down-to-earth. She said she has known Pinkall since 2007, and every year she continues to learn new things about him and what he has accomplished.

A few of Pinkall’s accomplishments include being a featured singer at the opening gala concert for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in 2011, receiving the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship from Yale in 2012 and singing with the Kansas City Chorale, which won two Grammys in 2013. While working on his doctorate in Kansas City, Pinkall also founded the Kansas City Vocal Institute, which provides free or discounted music education for underprivileged children and families in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

“Dr. Pinkall is the type of person who wants to make a difference in the world around him, and he does this by modeling the exact things our students will need to succeed someday,” Mortenson said. “He wants to see everyone around him improve and do their best.”

Along with teaching at K-State, Pinkall is the administrative director for the Summer Choral Institute (SCI) at K-State, which is a weeklong music and leadership camp for high school students. Yu said Pinkall has done amazing things for this institute.

“He singlehandedly makes it an experience these kids will never forget,” Yu said.

She said many of Pinkall’s students look to him as a role model and that he is the standard that she holds her students to because of his talent, work ethic and efficiency in getting things done.

Yu said Pinkall has many passions, including music, international culture and politics, sports, history and, of course, the Olympics. She said she believes that these passions make him very qualified for the position of producer of the Opening Ceremony.

Along with working on the production, Pinkall will also be performing as a part of the Opening Ceremony. He will be in Russia for 14 days, where he will be a part of daily rehearsals, including two public runs before opening night.

“The Opening Ceremony is likely the largest piece of art that the world produces,” Pinkall said. “It is one of the most exciting things to me about music.”

The Opening Ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics will take place on Friday, Feb. 7. The ceremony will involve 5,000 people, from musicians and dancers to technicians and organizers.