i heart gerhardt

during his visit last season, cello-playing phenom alban gerhardt was gracious enough to tackle 10 questions with the classical beaver… *click here now to check out that archived edition.  i’ll restrain myself this time ’round by posing a mere 3 queries:

when you played with the oregon symphony last november, the beavs noticed after your turn as soloist you sat in with the cello section during dvořák’s ninth symphony – something i’ve seen only once before!  what made you decide to sit in with the band?

Last month I played a fundraiser for Rhapsody in School – a children’s project me and many other musicians in Germany have created.  In interviews on stage we all tried to make points why music is such an important tool for young people, and [rockstar violinist] Christian Tetzlaff said something which I completely agreed with: Parents should push their kids to play an instrument and then quickly try to find them an opportunity to play in a group, a band, or a youth orchestra.  Christian played in an orchestra from 11 years of age until 22.  I only did from 15 to 18, but this experience was absolutely crucial for me.  My father was an orchestra musician by conviction, 45 years in the Berlin Philharmonic, and I grew up with going to their concerts all the time.  My dream was to become a member myself.  Why this didn’t happen has many reasons, but in my heart I am just a musician, for me there is no difference in being an orchestra musician, chamber musician, soloist, teacher – I love all the facets of being a musician.  That’s the reason I often ask the orchestra to accept me to join them in the second half, if it is a piece which I know well.

with that response, i think you just became an honorary member of portland’s “yes on measure 26-146” campaign!  um, this saturday and monday at the schnitzer, you’re on tap to play tchaikovsky’s variations on a rococo theme ~ how would you describe this music?

The Rococo Variations for me are the most beautiful set of variations possible – one of the best pieces by Tchaikovsky.  They are pretty short (20 minutes) which is a plus, because he manages to say all he wants to say in a very condensed manner.  These seven variations are perfect little character studies with technical fireworks, gorgeous melodies, charming gestures, tragic depth – all rather difficult to perform as the change of characters and technical challenges are very quick and demand the highest concentration.

something tells me you’re up for the challenge.  okay, last question: you are officially the oregon symphony’s first artist-in-residence ~ anything you are especially looking forward to during your time in p-town?

I have come to Portland now for some years and I love this city, the Oregon Symphony, the entire organization, and especially my friend Carlos Kalmar, so it is a very special honor for me to be their first artist in residence.  As a matter of fact, it is not only their first artist residency, but also mine – I have never done it, so I am absolutely thrilled to come and try to be a worthy first candidate, bringing classical music not only to the concert hall but in unusual places as I have done several times in Germany… and also *once in Cleveland.  I am very curious how this will be received, but from my past experiences I am very hopeful!

well, whether it’s with the band or in the tram, ol’ beavey is confident that stumptown is gonna absolutely eat you and your cello up!  alban, thank you so much for taking time to chat… sooo looking forward to *all the festivities this week.  herr gerhardt is in da’ house, yo!


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