Sept. 12, 2019
Seneca employee hits the right note
Recent performances include concert with Hugh Jackman
Whether you are a student or an employee at Seneca, chances are you’ve seen or, better yet, heard Doug Hammond.
For the last two years, Hammond, Acting Manager, International Admissions, has been Music Director of Seneca Singers, Seneca’s on-campus choir. In addition, when he’s not working at Seneca, helping students in one capacity or another, Hammond is moonlighting as a professional singer and conductor.
“I call it a passion career,” he said.
Music has been in Hammond’s life for as long as he can remember. When he was about six years old, he led his cousins in singing Christmas carols at his grandparents’ place. In high school, he began performing in musicals with community theatres. He went on to study music in university and, while still a student, he performed in Off-Off-Broadway in New York.
Even then, “I didn’t think I was going to be a full-time performer,” Hammond said. “I couldn’t really figure out what to do with music.”
Having been involved with choirs most of his life, Hammond decided to pursue a master’s degree in musicology, majoring in choral conducting. In 2015, he joined Singing Out, Toronto’s LGBTQ+ community choir. He is currently serving as president of its board of directors.
Recently, with Singing Out, Hammond had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform with Hugh Jackman in Hugh Jackman: The Man. The Music. The Show. in Toronto.
“Our gig co-ordinator got an email from Hugh Jackman’s people one day, inviting us to perform with him,” Hammond said. “We were sent some music ahead of time. We were so excited but we couldn’t tell anybody we were doing this concert.”
On the day of the show, Hammond and his choir had a quick rehearsal backstage. They met Jackman just before going on stage, where they sang with him for the first time before a sold-out crowd in Scotiabank Arena.
“It was an amazing experience,” Hammond recalled. “I was two people over from Hugh Jackman!”
Aside from performing with Singing Out, Hammond has once again immersed himself in community theatres. It began about five years ago, when he was approached by someone he had worked with to cover a role. From there, “I caught the theatre bug again,” he said.
Since then, Hammond has appeared in a number of community theatre productions, including most recently as David in If/Then, Historian, Prince Herbert and Not Dead Fred in Spamalot, Jack in Into the Woods, Sky in Mama Mia! and Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. His next performance is in a fundraiser cabaret, Broadway Unbound, for Singing Out at the Heliconian Hall on Saturday, Sept. 28.
“Music is so important to me. I don’t know what I’d do if I just came to work and did nothing else,” he said. “I can’t fathom not having that in my life. I love music. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
Hammond said he’s honoured to have been asked to lead Seneca Singers, which is made up of about 15 to 25 students, employees, alumni and retirees.
“I said I’d help when they wanted to start a choir, but I fell in love with it and now I’m stuck,” he said with a chuckle.
“It’s the people and the community — that’s what I love about music and choirs. It brings together liked-minded individuals who believe in the common goal of telling the story through music and sharing the emotions through music. For me, it’s a way of giving back to Seneca, to the students and to the community. I just love it.”
Seneca Singers rehearses every Wednesday from 5:20 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Room B2084 at Newnham Campus. All are welcome to join, no experience necessary. For more information or to sign up, email Carman Dang.