colin currie tackles 10 questions (plus subsections!)

dear reader: the beaver sincerely hopes you are enjoying all the interviews thus far in the season.  the musicians’ responses have been wonderful, no?  and speaking of wonderful responses, here’s mr. colin currie – the flailing scotsman who will be banging away with the band this weekend.  (suck it, classical marmot!)

you’ll be playing jennifer higdon’s percussion concerto with the oregon symphony this saturday and monday.  how much improvisation is involved?

The concerto leaves scope for extensive improvisation from the soloist – certain bars are left with just the rhythm and instrument type indicated and the exact pitches are left to the soloist.  Furthermore, there is a solo cadenza which the soloist must either compose or semi-compose or indeed improvise.  I initially set about improvising a cadenza to see what I could come up with, but have since the world premiere stuck to a version which I think works well.  It still sounds quite free and improvised perhaps, but for those reading this, you’ll know that it is pre-arranged!

how many other folks could play this concerto professionally?

I’m not sure – but an increasing number.  Jennifer also made two other versions of the work, one with symphonic wind-band and one with piano.  So many students now have access to the work as well.

do you play any non-percussive instruments?

I dabble fondly at the piano, and would love to take up bass guitar and a brass instrument one day.

what’s so great about experiencing classical music live?

The live sound is overwhelming.  Also, as music is that magic art-form that exists in real time, a live-performance is clearly the most authentic way to experience it.  Also, live music keeps everything real, so we get the thrills and indeed I hope, some spills too.

awesome response.  hey, i read in an interview that you “hated the xylophone” – is this true?!

Well – I missed out maybe the “love” bit, as in “love-hate.”  The xylophone is tricky having spent the majority of my time at the marimba where the keys are bigger.  So the xylophone can be tricky.  However, Simon Holt wrote for it in his concerto so I got plenty of good practice there!

if i were to buy you a drink, what single malt would you order?

Benmore – seriously smooth!

sláinte mhaith!  could you talk a bit about the colin currie group?

This has been a great development, and features some extremely good young players from the UK.  We focus on the works of Steve Reich especially “Drumming” and have become a real hit in the UK.  We hope to perform abroad soon too…

on behalf of stumpland, let me just say the colin currie group at the newmark theater would be the bomb.  mmm, mmm, mmm.  hey, what 3 jazz drummers would you like to have dinner with?

Gene Krupa, Louis Bellson, and Buddy Rich.  I’d invite them round!

buddy rich!  word.  so, any guilty pleasures in the world of pop music?

I am rather disillusioned with mainstream pop these days, but occasionally find myself at a random underground kind of gig which might throw out something interesting.

what expectations do you have about:
     a) playing with the oregon symphony?
  I love this orchestra and have played there twice before.  Last time was the Rouse concerto and I remember it went especially well.

     b) playing with conductor carlos kalmar?  I am a big fan of Carlos; he is totally secure and dependable but relishes the inherent risk necessary to create first-class live music.  We have lots of fun playing together!

     c) visiting the city of portland?  I am a total Portland groupie and wear my Ducks cap far and wide!  It is a great city – fantastic food and I enjoy getting lost in Powell’s books every trip.  I’m also going to a basketball match when I’m there – Blazers versus Celtics! Let’s hope Brandon Roy is on form!!

[is colin attempting to talk basketball with the classical beaver?  shit.  um, let’s see.  okay.]  yeah, i bet that game is going to be quite good, with lots of points, and er – throwing of the ball.  i’m sure mr. roy will play adequately.  thanks colin!

oh, btw – perhaps the only chance to actually hear colin’s undoubtedly dreamy scottish accent is to check out his interview on 89.9’s northwest previews, airing tonight @ 6pm or available on podcast whenevs. 

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3 Responses to “colin currie tackles 10 questions (plus subsections!)”


  1. 1 Kirsten January 27, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    First, I need to say I LOVE the Classical Beaver. Its so sweet to have an outlet to read about classical artists and music without the stereotypical snotty attitude. 🙂

    I’m so excited to hear Colin this weekend! The concert on a whole I’m sure will rock but to see the artistic form break away from the tradition instruments is thrilling, like I’m watching history in the making. Getting goose bumps just thinking about it.

  2. 2 Liddy January 28, 2011 at 4:39 am

    I just love the uninhibited answers you get in these interviews – must be the uninhibited questions! And by the way, the concerto is worth traveling round the whole globe to see………

  3. 3 Christa Wessel February 1, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Brian, may I just say… thank you for doing what you do. 😉


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