Musical Tax Judge Knows The Score
Growing up in Greenwood, S.C., Charles "Chuck" Beaudrot discovered his passion for music early on. His parents sang in the church choir, and his mother was a church organist.
Beaudrot, a retired partner with Morris, Manning & Martin and an appointed judge to the newly created Georgia Tax Tribunal, recalls a story of when he first heard Handel's "Messiah."
"I was 3 years old," he says, "and the next day I was walking down the street singing 'All we like sheep' because that made a big impression on me." It was the beginning of a lifetime of singing and composing for Beaudrot.
A talented boy soprano, Beaudrot was accepted into the prestigious Columbus Boychoir (now the American Boychoir in New Jersey) when he was 12 but decided he didn't want to leave home. By high school he was not only singing but also composing and writing his own music. He sang in choirs while attending Duke University and Harvard Law School, and since 1978 he has been a member of the choir at The Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta.
Beaudrot spoke with the Daily Report about his choral compositions, love of music and annual Christmas carol.
Most of your compositions are choral music. Do you write other types of music?
I do. I have written some instrumental pieces. Not a lot, but I do write for instruments. For my daughter's wedding I actually wrote a little waltz for the harp.
It really helps if you know the instrument you're writing for, and I'm a singer, so I really understand what works for voices and what doesn't work for voices. When I'm writing for, say, the violin, because I don't play the violin, it's not as intuitive to me what will work. For instance, I did some pieces for the flute, and my daughter fussed at me. She said, "Dad, this is too low. You need to write it higher in the register so it can be heard." It's actually hard to play in the low end of the register, which is the reverse of the singer. For the singer, the hard notes are the high notes. The low notes are the easy notes. Every instrument has its nuances. You have to be respectful of the instruments you are writing for, because every instrument is idiosyncratic, and some things work and some things don't. So the vast majority of my writing is either choral or vocal.
What instruments do you play?
I really don't play anything. I took a couple of years of piano as a child, and I read music, but I never mastered the hand-eye coordination to play the piano. I used to strum the guitar in high school, and I played the recorder as a kid, but I really am not an instrumentalist. One reason I love the computer is it will play things back for me. It's pretty rare for a composer not to be an instrumentalist. The only comparable situation I am aware of is Berlioz, who was apparently, at best, a very mediocre pianist, and I think he could strum the guitar as well. Some historians think that is one of the reasons he was so original in his approach. On that score, I was rejected when I tried to enroll in music theory at Harvard because I couldn't play the piano.