ONE-ON-ONE


Our CPAs of Note!

Most RISCPA members probably take the traditional route when it comes to winding down after a busy day at the office. Some stop at the health club on the way home for spin class, or maybe a swim. Others may go for a run or walk around the block with their spouse.

And then there are those who march to the tune of a different drummer. Meet your colleagues who – whether in a garage cranking out Led Zeppelin on electric guitar or in a church choir playing a soothing hymn – love to make music.  


John Mathias

John Mathias, of Piccerelli Gilstein & Co., LLP

WHAT COUNTS: What is your musical talent and how long have you been performing?
MATHIAS:
I am a guitarist.  I don't remember when I didn't play the guitar. I’m told that I was four years old when I first started taking lessons here in Providence. I do consider myself very proficient at the guitar. I’ve also played both the upright string bass and the electric bass. Playing a musical instrument has always been rewarding. I played in bands from junior high school through college. I've performed at weddings to frat parties and everything in between. During high school, I also played the string bass in the high school symphony orchestra and was selected to play the string bass in the RI All State Symphony Orchestra in each of my four years.

WC: What drew you to music?
MATHIAS: I met a lot of terrific people through music. Performing in public gave me confidence in myself. That confidence has benefited me in my professional life. As a CPA, one is frequently called upon to speak to groups of people. I am able to do public speaking because I became comfortable performing in public at a young age. I was actually on the old talent show, “Community Auditions,” in the early 1950s and came in second place. I started to play guitar at such an early age because my father played guitar and always had an old guitar around the house. I was always strumming on the guitar. My parents decided to get me lessons.

WC: What do you get out of your musical interest and how often do you play?
MATHIAS: I find playing music to be my version of transcendental meditation. When I'm playing music I'm in a zone devoid of the mundane. I try to play as often as possible. If I have the opportunity to play every night, then I do.

WC: Can you draw a correlation between your musical talent and your profession?
MATHIAS: There are more similarities between accounting and music than one might think. Music is very mathematical. Time signatures and harmony follow mathematical formulas. The typical song follows a discernible pattern of measures of music and reaches a final cadence using the key note. There is an expectation of balance both in accounting and music. Both disciplines are forms of communication relying on a basic infrastructure of rules. Accounting communicates financial information whereas music communicates a sound pattern that resonate emotions and feelings. Music comes from the soul while accounting emanates from the intellect. Following the rules of music perfectly does not necessarily produce perfect music.


Pamela Sawin

Pamela Sawin, of Lefkowitz Garfinkel Champi & DeRienzo PC

WHAT COUNTS: What is your musical talent and how long have you been performing? 
SAWIN: I am a vocalist (alto voice) and have been singing since I was a child, first in my Peace Dale Congregational Church children's and adult choirs, then in school and later in college. I was a RI high school All State vocalist many years and sang with URI's Chorus and Concert Choir. In adulthood, I have sung with my church choir and in recent years with Neponset Choral Society (NCS), a regional choral society comprised of 60+ adults from southern Massachusetts, rehearsing and performing semi-annually in Foxborough.

WC: What drew you to music?
SAWIN: I love music and had many early and successful singing opportunities and encouragement from my various music directors.  My mother played piano and I learned enough from her to play my vocal part. My involvement with sports and other activities kept me from the time needed to learn to play an instrument, however, singing kept me involved with music. Over the years, I have also played hand bells for my church and have enjoyed learning this expressive art form.

WC: What do you get out of your musical interest and how often do you play?
SAWIN: Singing is a rewarding art form, requiring focus, rehearsal, collaboration and leadership. I enjoy learning challenging and new music and performing it well. My church choir and NCS rehearse weekly, and with NCS, we rehearse every Monday night for more than three months to prepare our winter and spring concerts. We are led by accomplished directors and educators from Noble & Greenough and Brown University and are constantly learning – the music, the various languages and pronunciation, the history. NCS is the highlight of my Monday night; I never miss rehearsal, unless I am out of town. Singing is a true passion. It refreshes and reinvigorates me.

WC: Can you draw a correlation between your musical talent and your profession?
SAWIN: Singing is such a change of pace from my business consulting and financial world. Yet there are many similarities. Educators have long noted that exposure to music increases our capacity to learn and excel in mathematics and the sciences. Musical training and performances have provided me a solid foundation for my career advancement. I see a strong correlation… creativity and interpretation are applicable to both music and business, as are precision and quality. At LGC&D, we strive to make our presentations “sing” to the intended audience – meaning our work is presented clearly, provides insight, and tells the story.  


Thomas Kiley

Thomas P. Kiley, of Kiley and Company

WHAT COUNTS: What is your musical talent and how long have you been performing? 
KILEY: I am primarily a guitar player now. I started with saxophone in grade school, switched to trombone in high school and picked up guitar and drums along the way. Eventually I decided to focus on guitar. Although I recently started to learn the piano and have been taking voice lessons. In college I was part of an extremely successful rock band called “Morgan's Tale.” We played Providence College hangouts in and around the campus. These days I have four bands that I play in: I have a four-piece rock band that is my primary group. We are writing and recording original songs. We play occasionally in the Bristol area. I play lead guitar and assist with vocal harmonies; I have two-man acoustic group called “Stimulus Act.” This group is intended to be a group of CPAs, bankers, etc. It will eventually be much larger and include drums, horns, etc. Right now we are learning songs and getting the foundation set. My high school garage band still gets together a couple times a year to play old school 80s rock, such as Rush, Iron Maiden, Kiss, etc.

WC: What drew you to music?
KILEY: My fourth group is a family band which answers the question of how I got into music. My whole family is very musical. I have a “Partridge Family” style family band with my sister, brother-in-law and their two sons, a seven-year-old drummer and a 10-year-old keyboard/bass player. They are legitimate musicians. I also have a four-year-old niece who desperately wants to be the lead singer of the group. She has the attitude and will likely have the skill. My daughter was born in June and we are already grooming her to be in the band. My nephew wants her to take over the keyboard so he can switch to guitar.

WC: What do you get out of your musical interest and how often do you play?
KILEY: Playing music creates a natural euphoric experience. It gives me so much energy and so much joy to be able to play songs that other people enjoy listening to. I try to play at least two or three times a week. It doesn’t matter to me if I'm playing with a group or by myself. It is my favorite hobby.

WC: Can you draw a correlation between your musical talent and your profession?
KILEY: There are many correlations between my music and my career. I’ve always said that I don’t need my guitar to be a rock star. It is a mental state of being. The best musicians are always working on their craft and improving their skills. They know how to improvise and connect with their audience. Most of all, they are committed to preparation. I use these skills when I run my practice and interact with my clients.

James P. Ferolito, of Dittmar McNeil & Ferolito

WHAT COUNTS: What is your musical talent and how long have you been performing? 
FEROLITO: My main talent is that I sing. I also play an acoustic six and 12-string guitar since I taught myself to do so 47 years ago. Over the years I have played with a band in college I got together with at Bryant on the East Side of Providence. I have sung with several groups by invitation, such as “The Mad Hatters” and “The Calamari Brothers,” and have done a few weddings and church dances, most notably at the Dunes Club for the St. Thomas More Catholic Parish in Narragansett.  

WC: What drew you to music?
FEROLITO: Music is not something you are drawn to. You are born with a passion to be part of music. It is my passion in life.

WC: What do you get out of your musical interest and how often do you play?
FEROLITO: Music brings me to a different plateau in life. When I sing and play, whether its rock and roll or church hymns at mass with the church choir, I become the writer in that I try to bring out what his message is in the song or hymn I am entrusted to sing. If I’m just singing with the choir, I focus in on a harmony level to enhance the total blend of sounds that should accompany the instruments playing. I try to practice an hour or so twice a week. I also play and sing the Saturday afternoon mass at St. Veronica Chapel at St. Thomas More Church in Narragansett. As for singing, I sing all day long in my mind to clear out the cob webs of the business world. It’s really therapeutic.

WC: Can you draw a correlation between your musical talent and your profession?
FEROLITO: I have found that music, math and art are truly correlated. All become easy for those who recognize they have the attributes to do each. My only regret is that I can’t read and write music. It is all by ear, which is quite sensitive to all levels of tone. Songs bring together a message and conclusion in a rhythmic tone. Accounting does so in a similar way when one has to help a client bring his financial family life down the proper road which will conclude with his or her retirement.