Eddie Guttman

Eddie Guttman

Eddie Guttman was surprised to be named Back Stage readers’ favorite accompanist, because “the less somebody has to say about you as an accompanist, the better,” he says. “In a way, you don’t want to be noticed. You just want the vocalist to shine and let them get the compliments.”

Rachel Dorfman graduated last year with an MFA from the New School for Drama and says she voted for Guttman because, as the program’s resident accompanist, he “takes an interest in his students and really cares about them. He’s available all the time to answer questions, he recommends songs for people to work on, and he’s just a fantastic artist and a great teacher.”

Guttman says the most important skill for an accompanist to have is the ability to listen. A talented pianist may not automatically make a good accompanist, he says, because in addition to the necessary skills of sight reading and transposing, an accompanist needs to fade into the background while also enhancing the singer’s performance.

“I really feel like there’s a dialogue between the singer and the accompanist,” says actor Evan Bergman of his experiences with Guttman. “Whether it be a literal dialogue, because he’s invested in you and what you’re doing and wants to discuss it, or if it’s the unspoken dialogue through the music, he’s completely connected to you.” Bergman says Guttman will suggest songs that play to a singer’s strengths and then try those songs in a variety of tempos and styles to make the performer more “malleable and free.”

Guttman is also a vocal coach, musical director, and composer. He received an M.A. in music composition at New York University and has been the accompanist for Lincoln Center’s Meet the Artist series for over a decade. Guttman was also featured in the recent book Voice Teachers and Vocal Coaches of New York.

Eddie Guttman, 370 Columbus Ave., NYC; (212) 873-0815; eguttman@ verizon.net; http://www.eddieguttman.com.

The “2008 Back Stage Readers’ Choice Awards” special was published in the May 8-14, 2008 issue of Back Stage and online at BackStage.com.