of the conductors for the wildly popular Candlelight Processionals at Epcot, which have become a holiday tradition. He conducts about 150 performances a year, of one kind or another. Sinclair also serves as music director of the First Congregational Church of Winter Park; director of the local Messiah Choral Society; and conductor of the International Moravian Music Festivals. His seemingly boundless energy both delights and confounds his admirers, who wonder how long he can maintain such a crushing schedule of classes, concerts and clinics. “Whenever I see a handful of people singing or playing instruments, and it doesn’t matter where, I’m surprised when I don’t also see John there with his baton,” says one longtime member of the Bach Festival Choir with a chuckle. “Any one of the things he does would be a full-time job for most people.” However, the man the Orlando Sentinel once dubbed “Central Florida’s resident conductor” shrugs off the suggestion that what he does is in any way exceptional. Although his music might be described as highbrow, Sinclair is an unpretentious Midwesterner with working-class roots. His students and colleagues address him simply as “Doc.” “I just do my job,” says Sinclair, a native of Kansas City and a graduate 68 LIVING IN WINTER PARK The 250th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach (below) was the impetus for the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park. But it was music-loving businessman John Tiedtke who built it into an institution. of William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. He also attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance, where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in music education, with an emphasis on conducting. “I show up and try really hard. I take my work very seriously, but I try to not take myself very seriously. I also consider myself hugely fortunate to make music for a living. I guess you could say I lead a remarkable, unremarkable life.” Sometimes it appears as though Sinclair, like the music he conducts, simply defies time. Although far more of his career is behind him than ahead of him, he seems to be hitting his stride now, at an age when most people are at least considering what they might do during retirement. “No, no,” says Sinclair when asked if he might consider shedding some professional commitments in the foreseeable future. “I always said I wanted to have a 50-year career, so I’ve got at least 12 more years. Anyway, I’ll recognize when I start to slip. I’ll know when it’s time to stop.” For now, Sinclair is actually adding to his workload by compiling a book on how to stage major choral works. “I’m using only works that I’ve done at least three times myself,” he says. “I want this book to be my gift to the profession.” For more information, visit bachfestivalflorida.org.
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