carlos miguel prieto tackles 10 questions

whoa nellie, sharon isbin ain’t the only rockstar in town!  this weekend and monday night, coach kalmar tosses his keys to guest conductor *carlos miguel prieto who’s gonna take the 76-cylinder oregon symphony for a major joy ride.  guaranteed.  you’ll probably come to that same conclusion after you read his extremely sweet interview with the beavs:

maestro, starting this saturday night, you’ll be sharing the schnitzer stage with sharon isbin playing one of joaquín rodrigo’s masterpieces for classical guitar: fantasía para un gentilhombre.  what can we expect?

We should all celebrate the fact that Ms. Isbin is the soloist, as she is a true guitar virtuoso.  I have never had the honor of working with her, but I have several recordings of hers, and she is especially sensitive to the Spanish repertoire.  Being from a Spanish family who came to Mexico in the 20th Century, I like guitar music very much, and am looking forward to doing this piece.  We (my family) were close friends of Mr. Rodrigo’s, and I had a lot of contact with him as a young boy.  I understand his music, and love it very much.  I have an anecdote which I can share: Mr. Rodrigo came to Mexico City in the 1990’s for a special concert in his honor, and stayed with his wife Victoria at the top of the Sheraton Maria Isabel Hotel– a big skyscraper tower.  Mr. Rodrigo was blind, and both he and his wife were already very old.  A fire started two floors under his, in the middle of the night.  They were saved miraculously by a heroic chamber maid.  Everything in their floor burned, including all their clothes.  They stayed for the remainder of the week in my room, and Mr. Rodrigo used my clothes!  So I feel a special bond!

holy smokes, that’s quite an anecdote!  wow.  thanks so much for sharing that… between you and sharon, i’m starting to get real excited about these concerts!  the program also includes gubaidulina’s fairytale poem ~ how would you describe this composer and her work?

Sofia Gubaidulina is one of the most highly respected living composers today.  She is revered in Europe, and by classical music fans everywhere.  This work is from 1971, and is smaller in scale than most of her famous works.  It is brief, 10 minutes, and uses a chamber orchestra.  It is incidental music to a Czech children’s tale about a piece of chalk, an endearing story.  She was asked to write this music for a radio broadcast, and it was so successful that she was asked to publish it separately.  It illustrates musically, very cleverly and imaginatively, the story of the piece of chalk.  I include the story here, quoting SIKORSKI Magazine, since it is so essential to the understanding of the music.  Anyone who knows the story will easily grasp what the very unique sonorities mean (the sound of chalk on a blackboard, the end of the life of a piece of chalk, etc…)

“The main character in this fairytale is a small piece of chalk used for writing on school blackboards. The chalk dreams of drawing wonderful castles, beautiful garden with pavilions and the sea.  But it is forced, day in and day out, to write dull words, numbers and geometrical figures on the blackboard.  In so doing, it becomes smaller and smaller, in contrast to the children who grow each day.  The piece of chalk gradually despairs, giving up all hope of ever being allowed to draw the sun or the sea.  Soon it becomes so small that it can no longer be used in the classroom and is thrown away.  After this happens, the chalk finds itself in total darkness and thinks it has died.  This ostensible deadly darkness, however, proves to be a boy’s trouser pocket.  The child’s hand takes the chalk out into the daylight and starts drawing castles, gardens with pavilions and the sea with the sun on the asphalt.  The chalk is so happy that it hardly notices how it disintegrates whilst drawing this beautiful world.”

can.  not.  wait.  for.  this.  concert!  let’s see… play much violin these days?

I play violin for fun, mostly as part of my family’s string quartet, which is a 5-generation family tradition.  I love playing chamber music, and play lots of concerts with the Cuarteto Prieto.  However I do not play violin professionally, and my schedule as a conductor, with over 130 concerts per year, makes it impossible to do anything, but conducting, professionally!!!!

that’s a lot of concerts!!!!  okay, let me throw a hypothetical query at you: if you could invite 3 composers for dinner, who would it be?

Ha!  Good one!  You have me thinking here, not whom to invite, but whom to choose among a very long wish list!  But here they are…

Bach: Just to know how he could write so much music in a lifetime, yet have so much family at the same time.  I do not think he would grant me too much time, as he would be thinking about his next Cantata, so I would take him to have a beer (or as many as he would want) in a very nice old beer house I know in Leipzig, very near where he is buried.

Mozart: For his sense of humor and because I am sure he would not talk about music.  I would take him to hear Mariachis in Mexico City’s Garibaldi Square (on a normal night there are over 100 Mariachi bands competing for attention).  He would surely enjoy it tremendously, and perhaps even join them for some improvisations.  Who knows, maybe we would get a Symphony #42 out of the experience, the Mariachi Symphony!!!

Stravinsky: I would take him to hear jazz at Snug Harbor on Frenchman street in New Orleans.

dear god maestro ~ are you in a blogging contest too?!  your answers are really blowing me away here!  hey, the beavs has never been to mexico city ~ if i had 48 hours there, what should I do?

Call me.  If I am not around, then go to the Zocalo and walk around for the whole first day.  It is the liveliest square in the world.  Go to Bellas Artes, go to hear Mariachis and have tequila at night in Garibaldi square.  The next day go to the world class Archeology museum, walk and shop in Polanco, and then go for dinner in the south of the city, at San Angel Inn.  I would drive you back to your hotel!

hilar ~ sounds great!  okay, last year was your final season with the huntsville symphony orchestra ~ any words for their new music director gregory vajda?

He does not need my advice, as he is so talented and full of ideas.  I would tell him that Huntsville has a very sophisticated audience, and both audience and orchestra welcome innovative programming, and he should (and he will) trust both.  Huntsville is a growing city, full of scientists, which places great pride in their orchestra.  He is lucky to be there, and they are lucky to have him!

i’m gonna totes miss g-dawg when he leaves pdx, that’s for sure.  um, what’s so great about live classical music?

There is absolutely nothing like it!  No recording will ever compare to a great performance.  A concert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, where anything can happen, and sometimes magic happens.  You have to be there to experience it, and it can change your life.

magic, indeed!  so is there any non-classical music you’re excited about?

Anything that is good, independent of what type of music.  I liked Madonna in the Super Bowl, only her boots seemed a bit uncomfortable to dance.

an excellent point.  if i could buy you a drink, what would you order?

You can buy me a beer, as long as it is not commercial, and it has bite and personality.  Or a very good red wine.  But the beer is the one drink I crave after a concert!

you know maestro, i think you’re really going to enjoy your visit… before i let you go, what are your hopes for p-town?

I have the highest expectations, which I know will be met.  The orchestra has a great reputation, and Portland is the only big city in the Pacific Northwest which I have not been to, so I am looking forward to getting to know both an exciting city and a world class orchestra!

well, hopefully you’ll even get to see some sun.  maestro carlos miguel prieto: muchas gracias!  merci beaucoup!  thanks a lot!

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