Born in Waterbury, Conn., and raised in the nearby town of Southington, saxophonist Andrew Gutauskas is very familiar with the world of jazz. He earned a bachelor’s in jazz performance at William Paterson University, and went on to receive an Artist Diploma in jazz studies from Juilliard. Before joining the staff at the School, he worked as a commercial real-estate paralegal for Cullen and Dykman LLP, where he was responsible for closing multimillion dollar buildings in New York City.
How long have you worked at Juilliard, and what do you remember about your first day?
I’ve been here just under three years and was thrown into the mix on my first day. We had a residency with Christian McBride so I was running around the building setting up chairs, videotaping master classes, and getting food ready. (Just a typical day in Jazz Studies, though.) I never thought that I would sweat so much in dress clothes!
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
I would definitely work in Facilities. That office gets harassed by everyone, and yet they still happen to make the building function with a smile. I would start in the office and take hundreds of calls from every department requesting a room setup or complaint about the fire alarm going off. Later, I’d head to the loading dock and get calls to make 30 keys a.s.a.p., and then run around at 4:55 p.m. looking for stands for a last minute 5 p.m. rehearsal. They work so hard and I have so much appreciation for what they do.
What is the strangest or most memorable job you’ve ever had and what made it so?
The most memorable job I had was working with the Disney Collegiate All Star Band in 2001. I just finished my freshman year of college and went to Anaheim to play in a band that marched around in basically male cheerleader outfits (that’s the strange part) and played great arrangements of Disney tunes. The musicians were top notch and I made some lifelong friendships along the way.
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
I’d get on a plane, move to Costa Rica, and live on the beach. If all the flights were cancelled that day, I’d head uptown and take my dog to Riverside Park, lie on a blanket, read a good book, and relax.
Many Juilliard staff members are also artists. How do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
As an active saxophonist and composer in N.Y.C., it’s always a struggle to balance my job and my artistic endeavors. It’s hard to find the energy to want to practice or write music, but in the end, it’s something that I have to do to keep moving forward. A great teacher once told me that perseverance is the key to “making it” in this town. So far, so good!
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
I really enjoy running and have completed two marathons over the last few years. I’m running the New York City Marathon again this November, so come cheer me on! I also consider myself a pretty good cook.
Where would you most like to travel and what draws you to that place?
I’d love to visit the two countries of my family origin: Italy and Lithuania. What a thrill it would be to visit the small towns where my grandparents lived and meet long-lost relatives.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
My last name is not Greek. I always know when I’ve met another Lithuanian because the first thing they say to me is, “Gutauskas, that’s Lithuanian, right?”
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
Fort Tryon Park. It has great views of the Hudson River, is home to the Cloisters Museum, and houses some amazing flower gardens. At times, you almost feel like you’ve left the city for a short while.
What book are you reading right now?
Letters to a Young Poet—it’s a compilation of letters by Rainer Maria Rilke. He’s a poet who has lived an artist’s life and struggled through many hardships, but through it all, has written these beautiful letters to help inspire another young artist. Although they were written from 1903 to 1908, they speak true now, just as they did 100 years ago.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Come see me perform sometime! My Web site, www.andrewgutauskas.com, has all my upcoming performances as well as music samples and photos.