Check It Out!

Episode hosted by: Ken Harvey, Paul Pitkin

A podcast from Sno-Isle Libraries for lifelong learners with inquiring minds.

Episode 35: Singing the praises of opera and libraries with Lorraine Burdick

Lorraine Burdick photo

Lorraine Burdick

Lorraine Burdick says she came late to her love for both her vocation and avocation.

By day, Burdick is a librarian at Sno-Isle Libraries working in collection development.

Away from the library, Burdick can often be found on the Seattle Opera stage as a member of the regular chorus.

“I’ve been working in the library since I was in high school. I started as a page putting books away,” Burdick says.  “And I’ve worked in all the different levels of being a staff member at the library. I put myself through college, my undergraduate degree by working in the library.”

After graduation, Burdick was working full time in a library.

“… but I was not a librarian,” she says. “A few years and went and, ‘Boy, I really like this work. I want to be a librarian.’ So I’ve been in the library since I was very young, and decided when I was about 28 to become a librarian.”

Similarly, Burdick says her early musical tastes ran toward musical theater, Harry Belafonte and the Kingston Trio, not opera. After happening upon a role with the Long Beach Opera in California, Burdick has been focused on the classic form.

That opportunity turned out to be a gold-medal choice.

Burdick decided to enter the solo category as a mezzo-soprano in the International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. “(The) choir that I was singing with was going and I thought, ‘Well, I’m a singer, I will go and audition; I will go and participate in the solo competition,’” she says “I’d never done anything like that before.

“… I won first place.”

For the past 11 years, Burdick has been singing as a member of Seattle Opera’s regular chorus. “Whenever there is a show that has a full chorus, I’m in it, unless I’m not available but I usually I’m because I love it,” she says.

Burdick says her interest and expertise in music pays off while performing her duties as a collection development librarian focusing on children’s materials, which she has been doing since about 1985. When reviewing additions to the library’s musical collection, she casts a critical eye.

“I listen to see if it sounds like it’s well-produced because a lot of these are self-published,” Burdick says. “I listen to how it’s orchestrated, meaning what kind of instrumentation it has. I listen to how the person sounds, I listen to several of the songs on it to make sure they don’t all sound exactly the same. And I look and see what they’re singing about, and such.”

Combining both vocation and avocation makes Burdick smile.

“One of my favorite points is when I finish singing and there’s this moment of silence before the audience starts to applaud, that is just, I just feed on that,” Burdick says. “That’s just a joy.”

And the library?

“I really believe that the library provides many, many, many tools for people to live fully,” Burdick says. “Collection development gets to choose all the books, audiobooks, eBooks, DVDs; all the materials people can check out.”

And she loves that, too.

Chapter length: 47:05

Episode links

Lorraine’s favorite genres

Lorraine’s favorite authors

Episode Hosts

Ken Harvey Ken Harvey is Communications Director for Sno-Isle Libraries. Ken brings broad professional experience from his service with Community Transit, Sound Transit, Reno, Nev., and several positions in radio and TV.

Paul Pitkin Paul Pitkin is Director of the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. He also plays guitar, along with several other instruments, sings and writes music.

Episode Sponsors

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation proudly supports the innovative work of Sno-Isle Libraries through private donations.