we wanted to make our first interview of 2011 special… hark, success! not only is mr. noble an amazing musician and kick-ass blogger, he’s been supporting the classical beaver from the moment it poked its head outside the dam. thanks, charles!
using terms my husband can understand, what is your connection to the oregon symphony?
I’m the Assistant Principal violist. I’ve been in the Oregon Symphony since 1995 and was acting principal viola for the first 1-1/2 years. I’m like ‘No. 1’ from Star Trek – I’m the first officer. If we need to send an away team to the planetary surface, then I’m the one that goes. Basically, I try to support the principal, watch for bowing changes in other sections, just act as another set of eyes and ears. I also have to know the solo parts in case Joël is indisposed for a concert. I also get him coffee.
why is your instrument so awesome?
The viola is what I like to call the meat in the orchestra sandwich. We provide richness and support in the string section, as well as a general sense of humor. As for my instrument, it’s made by a luthier in Maryland by the name of Gabrielle Kundert. Finding the right instrument is like finding your voice as a singer, writer, or visual artist, and it can take a long time. I was lucky to have had my friend and former teacher find this one for me – it suits me perfectly, and allows me to say what I want in the way I want to say it. And I just finished paying it off last year… that was nice, too!
what’s so great about experiencing classical music live?
It’s a living experience. It becomes a tactile experience, not just an aural one. You watch the musicians making the music happen in real time – it’s the original virtual reality. You’re inside of Beethoven, Mozart, or Mahler’s head, hearing what they heard as they set their compositions to paper. Plus, there’s the aspect of sharing that experience with thousands of other people in the concert hall with you. That hush when you’ve got the audience on the edge of their seats, there’s nothing like it. It’s what we as performers live for, and it’s relatively rare.
what’s the arnica string quartet and what are you guys up to?
I’m the violist in the Arnica Quartet, and we’ve got a couple of exciting concerts coming up in March – we’re doing a crazy program of incredible music with Bob Priest’s Marzena series – anchored by Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue, which is some of his most radical and daring music. That’s on March 25th at the Old Church. A couple days later, on March 27 at 2 pm, we’re playing a concert out in Astoria at the Liberty Theater, which will be an all-Beethoven concert, ending with the Op. 130 quartet, whose last movement is the Grosse Fugue. It’ll be pretty intense!
ft. george brewery and an all-Beethoven concert?! i’ll just go ahead and put that in my calendar now. okay, on with the interview… any favorite orchestral works this season?
I loved playing John Adams’ Slonimsky’s Earbox on the Yo-Yo Ma concert a couple weeks ago, and I’m very much looking forward to Manny Ax playing the Brahms Second Piano Concerto, it’s one of my favorite pieces of all time, the slow movement always brings me to tears. I’m also very excited to play Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto with Colin Currie. He’s amazing, and I love Jennifer’s music, it will be a lot of fun!
what’s up with (the very excellent blog) nobleviola?
I’ve been writing the blog since around 2005, with a few false starts before that. I guess if there is any aim, it’s to give people insight into what it is like to be a classical musician in an orchestra, and how that shapes my life and those of my colleagues and friends.
if i were to buy you a drink, what would you order?
I’m old school: a Maker’s Mark Manhattan, on the rocks.
any great cycling trips in 2010?
Lots of great rides this past year – 2,200 miles in total! In late September, I took part in the Echelon Gran Fondo, a charity ride for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU. It was a 100 mile ride the started and ended in Hood River, Oregon. I was lucky to have two intrepid fellow cyclists join me for my first century ride – OSO Assistant concertmaster Erin Furbee and bass trombonist Charley Reneau. It was a total blast, and I’ll definitely be back to do it again!
holy shit – that’s a lot of biking! had no idea… wow. um, let’s see: are you stoked by any non-classical music?
I like mostly mellow stuff. I listen to Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, a variety of older jazz musicians. I don’t listen to recorded classical music that much, unless I’m learning a new piece or studying something.
what sets the oregon symphony apart from other orchestras?
We’re nice. People are very supportive of each other, and we often go out after concerts, or to the movies. We socialize with each other. We’ve built bonds of friendship as well as the musical cohesion that’s so important for a great orchestra. It’s a great place to work, and that cannot be said for a lot of other orchestras.
yeah, i can’t see members of the new york philharmonic stumbling home from the holiday ale fest arm-in-arm, but somehow i can imagine that happening with you guys. in any event, thanks for the sweet responses!