Archive Page 2

James Ehnes Tackles 10 Questions

AntheilThe classical beaver is extremely proud to present its latest interview with *James Ehnes – an amazing fiddler who will be playing with the Oregon Symphony this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night. Last time Jimmy stopped into the Schnitz he stole my heart with a Bruch concerto, and this time he aims to do it again with a Bernstein number:

Mr. Ehnes, you’re scheduled to perform Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade with P-Town’s big band ~ How would you describe this work to someone who isn’t familiar with it?

It has a great mix of everything – lyrical melodies, great virtuoso writing, and a really raucous, wild ending with lots of percussion! (People who don’t listen to classical music always seem to like the idea of lots of percussion.)

Nice! Hey, I know it’s a long shot, but did you ever get to meet Mr. Bernstein or see him perform?

Unfortunately, no. I was only 14 when he died. I wish I could have known him, but I’m lucky to be friends with a number of people who knew him well.

I see that George Antheil’s Jazz Symphony is also on this All-American program. If this composer was a sports car, what would he be?

If Antheil were a sports car, he would be a Shelby AC/Cobra – a true American original.

Word. Um, speaking of composers, if you could invite 3 of them to dinner, who would you choose and where would you go?

Definitely Mozart – I think he would be a lot of fun. Berlioz would probably be very interesting. And I think I’d like to have known Mendelssohn; he seems to have been universally liked and admired. Where would we go…? There’s a REALLY great barbeque restaurant near where I live in Florida called Hickory Hollow. I’d take anybody there. And I’ll bet Mozart never had any good Southern barbeque.

Love the idea of Wolfgang chowing down on ribs! So… I’m wondering if you have any special pre-concert rituals or exercises or routines?

Not really. Life on the road can be so unpredictable; I think it’s best to just be able to roll with the punches.

Amen to that! Mr. Ehnes, you are a member of the Order of Canada – what are your responsibilities as a member and, more importantly, do you have a sword?

Sadly, I do not have a sword. Being a member of the Order of Canada is a tremendous honour; the idea behind the order is to form a very loose association of Canadians who each, in their own way, strive to make the country a better place. I hope I can do my part.

If I could buy you a drink, what would you order?

How fancy is the bar? Upscale: champagne cocktail. Dive: Bud Light. Either would make me happy.

Bud Light it is then. Hey if my math is correct, your violin will be celebrating its 300th birthday pretty soon – any plans for a party?

Ha! It’s an amazing milestone, but my Strad doesn’t like to party. Maybe it’s a good excuse for my wife and I to have a nice bottle of champagne!

The penultimate question: What non-classical music are you excited about?

My latest new favourite is Lyle Workman’s soundtrack from the movie Superbad. Great new funk, and some old classics like the Bar-Kays.

Can I just say I love your spelling of “favourite.” Sorry, just had to say that. Okay, final query: What are you expecting from Rip City?

I’m sure it will be a great musical experience. And Carlos is always wonderful – we’ve worked together several times in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Dallas, and he’s one of my favourite conductors. I think it should be a really fun week!

Oh – you did it again! Alright folks, get your tix now to catch one of my favourite violinists play with my favourite band this weekend or Monday night. Mr. Ehnes, thanks so much for the chat!


50 Ways The Beav’s Your Lover

GoldenThis blogger certainly didn’t intend to establish a winning streak, but missing Angela Hewitt play Mozart on February 22, 2010 was just too much for my tiny heart to bear, and I haven’t missed an Oregon Symphony classical show since. Tonight (!) will be my 50th consecutive subscription concert, and to honor the occasion ol’ Beavey is keeping it all to himself. Yup: No Facebook updates, No Tweets, No Reviews. Fear not though, gentle readers, because I’ve got a special Canadian treat for you on Thursday morning, so y’all come back now, eh?

The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet Tackles 10 Questions

Juan and SidekickThis Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, the Oregon Symphony plays host to not one, not two, not even three, but four (FOUR!) guitar virtuosi collectively known as the *Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. The Beavs was lucky enough to chat with Bill, John, Matt, and Scott about their upcoming show, full-stop motets, and getting Steve Reich drunk. Hope you enjoy the read!

Okay Bill, let’s start with you: The LAGQ is scheduled to perform Joaquín Rodrigo’s Andalusian Concerto with P-Town’s hometown band. What can we expect?

I like to think of the Concierto Andaluz as a 25-minute travelogue to the southern coast of Spain. Our teachers and colleagues Los Romeros (for whom this concerto was written) were born in Malaga, and Rodrigo filled this piece with the sounds of strumming guitars and Arabian breezes wafting over the Mediterranean, epitomizing this beautiful region.

I’m feeling warmer already! Hey, I’ve seen a couple of guitar soloists perform with the symphony over the years – one was amped and the other was not. Will the 4 of you be electronically amplified?

We always prefer to play unamplified, but our experience of playing this piece hundreds of times with orchestra is that a little electrical help goes a long way. Guitars are delicate instruments constructed for the salon, and sometimes in a late concert hall, pitted against a full orchestra, they can lose the richness of their tone and become tinny. We try as best we can to be sparing and delicate in our use of reinforcement.

Nice! Okay, last question for you Bill, and it’s a doozey: What’s so great about experiencing classical music live?

In today’s world of instant streaming and digital downloads, music is in danger of becoming devalued by its easy accessibility. Before electronic media, it was a rare and beautiful thing to experience music first-hand. When I visit medieval cathedrals in Europe, I always think how it must have felt to be a lowly peasant in the Middle Ages, who never saw a building higher than one story, never saw colored glass, and never heard music on the organ; then walking into a church and hearing a full-stop motet! It would have been truly awe-inspiring. I hope that when people take the time and expense to hear music played live, they’ll get a richer, more human connection with the composer and the performers.

A doozey of a response ~ Thanks so much! Alright John, the hotseat is now all yours: What are y’all expecting from the Oregon Symphony?

Not really sure. It’s our first appearance with both the OSO and Maestro Kalmar. It won’t rain inside the auditorium, will it??

Just checked the forecast and the Schnitz looks dry until Monday night, but I’d bring a tarp just in case! [ahem] If you could invite 3 composers for dinner, who would you choose and where would you go?

I’d invite Stravinsky, Ravel, and Steve Reich to a really fancy restaurant, ply them with drinks, and trick them into signing contracts committing them to write works for guitar quartet!

Sounds like a plan! Speaking of plying, if I could buy you a drink, what would you order?

I’ve always wanted to try the Midas Touch, a beer brewed by Dogfish Head Brewery. It’s made from a 2,600 year-old-old recipe for beer made by the Sumerians… the recipe was found by an archeologist friend of the brewer.

Oh dear, *Bailey’s Taproom might be our best bet for that. If they’re all out of Sumerian suds, though, I’m sure we can find an Oregon brew to tide you over! Alright Matt, let’s turn to you and get back to guitars: Does anybody in the group play electric on the side?

I play quite a bit of electric guitar, and grew up playing many styles of music. When I was about 12, I started playing in rock bands and jazz bands. I’m still a total jazzhead, so electric guitar is a big part of that.

Sweet! Um, if this rodent had 48 hours in the City of Angels, what would you suggest?

I would explore LA’s famous (but still undervalued) food and music scenes. World class, anything you want. For music: Disney Hall, Hollywood Bowl, The Baked Potato, Catalina Bar & Grill, Vitello’s. For food: Soot Bull Jeep (Korean), Shamshiri Grill (Persian), Nyala (Ethiopian), India’s Oven, Al-Noor (Pakistani), Mas Malo (Mexican), Rocio’s Mole de los Dioces (Mexican), and La Super-Rica Taqueria (not really in LA – Santa Barbara – but worth the trip!).

You had me at Disney Hall, but thanks for the kick-ass recommendations! So… After 30+ years of performing, do you even get nervous anymore before a gig?

I think 99% of performing artists get an adrenaline rush before they perform. Even someone as experienced as Segovia was famous for dreading going onstage minutes before. I think the key is to focus 1000% on the music itself. Then you experience excitement, not nervousness.

My apologies to Scott because I only have one question left, but it’s all you dude: If the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet had a mascot, what or who would it be?

Juan Valdez. We love un buen café and Latin music!

Hilar. Oh wow, thanks to all four of you for the interview… I really, really appreciate it. Stoked for Monday night!

Meals, Wheels, and Glass

MealsOnWheels_logo3Gentle readers, some opportunities are too good not to share: This Friday evening on April 12th, flute goddess Alicia DiDonato Paulsen and Yoko “88 Fingers” Greeney will be offering a benefit recital to help feed homebound seniors. A pair of brilliant Oregon Symphony musicians AND a good cause?! [um, yes please!] The All-American program will even feature a Philip Glass number, which will undoubtedly be totes rad. Want to go? More deets are available by clicking anywhere on this sentence.

Button Up!

Beaver ButtonsHave you heard? We here at the home office have decided to do something super-duper special: Now through the end of this glorious 2012/13 season, anyone who contributes any amount to the blog via that handy Paypal button will get a limited edition, super-stylish, 1″ Beaver Button. [yay!] Have you wanted to show your appreciation for all those previews, reviews, and interviews this obsessive blogger has thrown your way? Well, a generous gift of electronically transferred cash is the perfect fit! Thanks to everyone who’s already donated ~ Your encouragement has been insanely kind, and I certainly could not have reported on Portland’s unbelievable classical scene for three seasons without you. Big beavertail salutes all around, yo!

Sunday Night’s Big Top Ten

SomewhereThis rodent is slightly embarrassed by the woeful lack of top ten lists it has posted this season. Gentle readers, please accept my heartfelt apology. In an effort to boost my quota for 2012/13, here are my Top 10 Favorite Things (in chronological order) About Sunday’s Oregon Symphony Concert:

#10 ~ Maestro Märkl skipping any chit-chat and delving directly into a kick-ass tone poem

#9 ~ That whiplash conclusion of the piano concerto’s first movement

#8 ~ Joe Berger on horn. Period.

#7 ~ Mr. Gerstein’s slow, gentle fingerings

#6 ~ Kirill’s use of a mic to introduce his encore

#5 ~ The (sorta) surprise appearance of Storm Large, singing a perfectly beguiling Somewhere Over The Rainbow

#4 ~ Slamming a glass of white wine during intermission

#3 ~ Yoshinori and Mark as the clarinet wonder twins [Bravo!]

#2 ~ Hearing another Dvořák symphony for the first time

#1 ~ Crossing the Willamette River, following the love of my life back home

What’s On Tap?

beer tapsThis Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 o’clock, the always-amazing Oregon Symphony hosts another pair of superstar artists: Guest conductor Jun Märkl and keyboard soloist Kirill Gerstein. The program kicks off with an orchestral portrait of mythological trickster Prometheus, followed by Rachmaninoff’s very first, very lush piano concerto. After intermission, the crowd will be treated to Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 for dessert.

Why go? Gentle reader, I certainly don’t mean to alarm you, and I hope you’re sitting down, but jeez… um, there’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just get it out plain and simple: It’s the last time this season we get to hear that gorgeous Steinway piano. [I know, right?!] Go if you can, since Mr. Gerstein will undoubtedly be da bomb. Oh, and a little bird told this rodent the promo code DVORAK25 will get y’all a 25% discount on tix ~ Just 32 smackers for a very excellent Lower Balcony seat! Niiice.

For more deets, click on *the band’s website, call one of their lovely phone reps at (503) 228-1353, or stop in today or Friday at their downtown box office at 923 SW Washington.

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