can you believe we’ve already got to talk about the last guest violinist of the oregon symphony’s classical season?! well, it’s true. this saturday and monday, the band welcomes *nadja salerno-sonnenberg as their final fiddler of 2011/12. and after giving a few listens to the astor piazzolla piece she’ll be playing, ol’ beavey can attest that nadja will most definitely be bringing some serious heat to the schnitzer stage. curious to learn a bit more about ms. salerno-sonnenberg, i peppered her with queries. she was nice enough to respond:
you’ll be performing the four seasons of buenos aires ~ how would you describe this music?
Well, it’s tango music written in a classical style. Which is what Piazzolla did with tango… he made it symphonic. This particular arrangement by Leonid Desyatnikov is stunning, exciting, sexy, challenging, and ultimately a wild journey.
“sexy, challenging, and wild,” you say? muy caliente! hey, have you worked with guest conductor mei-ann chen before?
Yes, we have worked together before, doing extremely standard repertoire… I believe it was Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. The experience was wonderful and I am truly looking forward to doing this extremely non-standard rep with her.
what’s so great about experiencing classical music live?
The element of vibrancy and surprise. Anything can happen, and the listener and performer are there to witness that.
amen to that. alright, if you could invite 3 composers for dinner, who would you choose?
Can I pick 4 please???
um, okay… only because i admire the impassioned use of triple question marks…
I’d invite Bach, Ravel, Rachmaninov, and Schoenberg. I would probably go to a Korean barbecue restaurant because you have to cook and share all the food in front of you. I would ask them all to describe their music and their style of composition, then I would sit back and watch them argue.
j.s. and maurice chowin’ down on some bulgogi… now that is an image. thanks! so, this is your fourth season as music director for the *new century chamber orchestra ~ what’s been the most surprising thing so far during your tenure?
It’s actually our 20th Anniversary season which has been one long celebration. The most surprising element, I’d have to say, is how much I have learned from them and the entire experience of leading an orchestra. We have no conductor – I sit in the concertmaster chair, leading and blending at the same time. Incredibly challenging.
um, what are some of your favorite concert halls in the united states?
Well, there’s Carnegie… just because it’s Carnegie, and the incredible gratification you feel after “playing Carnegie.” I love Benaroya Hall in Seattle… the acoustics, the feel, the look. Royce Hall in Los Angeles is a gem. Kennedy Center in Washington DC… Verizon Hall in Philadelphia…
happy to see benaroya hall made your list ~ i’ll be checking it out for myself on *may 3, 2013! so nadja, do you have any special pre-concert rituals or routines?
I’m trying to kick this habit, but I drink a Red Bull before performing. And I ask my grandmother to guide me, right before I walk onstage.
best response i’ve ever gotten to that question ~ now i’m really looking forward to hearing you play monday night! wow… are you excited about any non-classical music?
Oh yes!!! Through my association with the Assad Brothers Guitar Duo, the entire world of Brazilian and South American music opened up to me. I love jazz. And honestly, because of my age, I just adore old disco music.
sweet – grab your glitter platform shoes and let me buy you a drink! what are you having?
Geez, it’s hard to choose. Depends on my mood. Shot of Don Patron Silver Tequila… or an extremely dirty vodka martini… or a Jameson on the rocks.
awesome – i’ll just order all 3 and drink whatever you don’t want. okay, final query: what are your expectations for playing with p-town’s band?
I haven’t played with the symphony in quite a while. When Jimmy DePreist was the music director, I played Portland practically every year. I always thought what an incredibly happy orchestra and so my time there was always completely delightful. The orchestra is wonderful, able to play anything in any style, which is terrific for a soloist. I have absolutely adored being in that city… and since I have a long history there, I am especially looking forward to playing for the audience again.
whoa nellie ~ on behalf of stumptown citizens everywhere, we are totes looking forward to hearing you again. ms. salerno-sonnenberg, thanks so much your awesome answers… see you real soon!