Profiles from the Pit: Jean Schneider and Andrew Wu
Meet the members of our orchestra with our Profiles from the Pit series! This month, learn about our repetiteur and pianist Jean Schneider, as well as violinist Andrew Wu!
Jean Schneider is a woman of many talents. In addition to playing the piano, celeste, organ and harpsichord in the orchestra pit, she has been Michigan Opera Theatre’s repetiteur since 2002, playing the piano accompaniment during MOT’s opera rehearsals.
Originally from Wisconsin, Jean began playing the piano when she was eight years old and went on to earn two Master of Music degrees from the University of Michigan, one in Piano Performance and the other in Piano Accompaniment. She has played 65 operas and continues to go strong, not letting even broken bones stop her. She said she loves working with MOT.
“Returning to play Tosca in the spring of 2018 after breaking my wrist last October was a very special MOT experience,” she said. “I just love being in the theater. There’s something special about walking through the stage door and climbing the stairs to the rehearsal room or going backstage or down to the pit. The smell of the grease paint, the roar of the crowd, it just feels good.”
Outside of MOT, Jean coaches singers and plays recitals and concerts, as well as rehearsals for other groups. She has also recently begun a copywriting and editing business geared toward performing artists and arts organizations.
Jean is proud to have walked one hour every day for more than 18 years and to have driven her 1990 Volvo for even longer.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, thrift shopping and doing acrostic puzzles.
Violinist Andrew Wu has been performing with Michigan Opera Theatre since 2004. The Ohio native got his start at seven years old after seeing Mister Rogers appear with the Cleveland Orchestra. Soon after, he began taking lessons at the Cleveland Institute of Music, eventually progressing to earn degrees in Violin Performance and Chamber Music from the University of Michigan School of Music.
Andrew said his favorite experiences with MOT have included playing an on-stage role in David DiChiera’s opera Cyrano, experiencing the power of Christine Goerke’s voice in Elektra and bringing the contemporary opera Frida to neighboring communities. But his top favorite experience is meeting someone who has attended opera for the first time.
“I love it when they tell me they had no idea they love opera and classical music,” he said.
Outside of MOT, Andrew is the director of the Baldwin Ensemble and is the concert-master of the recently-formed Orchestra Sono. He also enjoys working with hot glass and clay and has been blowing glass for more than two decades, with his work being featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Janice Charach Gallery and Lark Publishing’s “500 Glass Objects.”
“Through performing and exploring the art crafts of blown glass and ceramics, I have learned so much about myself and been in a position to give back to others,” he said. “I would encourage anyone who has curiosity to try something creative to jump in and discover how their lives can be enriched.”