By day, you can find David Ekstrom, PhD, teaching transcultural nursing to students in the Lienhard School of Nursing as an associate professor and director of international affairs. But from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. every Tuesday, Ekstrom is singing a different tune with the New York Choral Society.
When Ekstrom moved from Ohio to New York City for nursing school in 1973, he was looking for a sense of belonging.
“I knew that I wanted to set down some roots in the city, and I decided that joining a chorus would be the best way to do it,” Ekstrom said.
But the rest certainly wasn’t history. Ekstrom wasn’t interested in just picking any chorus. He wanted the cream of the crop—the best in show. So he scouted, listening to a bunch of choruses until he found the one: The New York Choral Society.
A Bass I Section Leader in the 180-member New York Choral Society (NYCS), Ekstrom may possess the lowest vocal range in the chorus, but he’s a major player in NYCS where he welcomes new choral members, answers questions, advises them, and helps the chorus keep it all together.
And the NYCS isn’t your ordinary chorus. Ekstrom has joined them on the stage of some of New York City’s most treasured venues: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, and more.
“It’s amazing to be standing in Madison Square Garden and to hear people cheering,” Ekstrom said. “It’s such an invigorating experience.”
And just a few days ago, he hit the stage with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and legendary Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame in a holiday celebration dedicated in memory of the great Mary Travers.
Ekstrom, who has taken nursing students to Iceland to learn health care delivery systems, is proud to be at Pace and proud to be a bass. One of his defining experiences he says was when he read names of graduates on stage at the Pace University Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony at Radio City Music Hall, and then later in the afternoon went to the Metropolitan Opera to perform on stage for the American Ballet Theatre.
“I thought geez, is this possible?” he said. “Being a small town boy from Ohio and making it in the Big Apple. There’s just nothing like it at all.”