Posts Tagged 'Benjamin Schmid'

Adieu to You, and You, and You

beaver photoAll things must come to an end, and the time has arrived for this large, surprisingly industrious, semi-aquatic rodent to hang up its blogging cap for good. Gentle readers, the past 3+ years have been an absolute hoot because of you, and I can’t say thanks enough for your constant support and encouragement. Extra-special beavertail salutes go out to all the victims musicians who agreed to tackle my inane questions this season, including pianist Jon Kimura Parker, violinist Yossif Ivanov, high-flying cellist Alban Gerhardt, percussionist Sergio Carreno, pianist Martin Helmchen, conductor Hugh Wolff, bassoonist Adam Trussell, soprano Katherine Lefever, pianist/hero Stephen Hough [sigh], conductor Hannu Lintu, violinist Benjamin Schmid, the entire Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, and rockstar fiddler James Ehnes. Trust me… the pleasure was all mine. And it may go without saying, but just in case: Thanks most of all to Maestro Carlos and the kick-ass musicians of the Oregon Symphony. Witnessing 76 (or so) brilliant technicians perform some of the greatest music ever composed with such passion and precision week after week will never get old. Seriously. Smooches to each and every one of you! Already looking forward to 2013/14, tell you what.

And speaking of next season, if you find yourself hankering for some bon mots from the classical beaver, feel free to drop in on *my Twitter account, which is quite possible even if you ain’t officially on Twitter. I’ll be sure to supply the best in orchestral coverage with 140 characters or less, guaranteed.

Let’s see… Express gratitude? Check. Plug my twats? Check. Well, I guess that’s it for this 474th and final post. Arrivederci from the Upper Balcony! xoxo, cb

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The Paper Bag Was On My Knee – Part I

Courtesy of Black Red Media dot comLast evening Stumpland’s big band bid farewell to Hannu Lintu… a guest conductor who is apparently the love child of Garrison Keillor and Plastic Man. The Finnish dynamo mounted the podium after wrapping up his opening monologue and – with one fabulous swish of his baton – conjured up Mr. Modest Mussorgsky’s biggest number for orchestra: Atop the Bare Mountain on St. John’s Eve. Gentle reader, you can forget what you think you may have heard countless times under a slew of different titles and various guises, because ol’ Beavey is here to tell you the 28-year-old Russian’s original 1867 composition is not pretty, is not polite, and is definitely not Disney-fied. The raw ferocity of this music instantly shocked Monday night’s audience, and our brilliantly savage Oregon Symphony maintained its reign of terror all the way through to Mussorgsky’s final note. Yowza ~ Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait another 146 years to hear this revelatory and unpolished gem again. [whew!] Seriously.

After somehow surviving their stay on Mt. Bald, Maestro Hannu and the band welcomed jazzman Benjamin Schmid to the stage for a fiddle showstopper penned by Camille Saint-Saëns. [Please allow me to address any pronunciation concerns that have just flared up with my mention of Monsieur Saint-Saëns. It’s really no big whoop once you get the hang of it: Simply put on your favorite beret, shove a hunk of baguette in your pie-hole, develop a severe sinus infection, tilt your head back, pinch your nose (firmly), and confidently declare: Saint-Saëns!] Now that we’ve cleared that up, let me get back to this violin concerto and vainly attempt to describe how smokin’ hot the Oregon Symphony’s wind section sounded. Let’s see… um, okay… Beautiful? Glorious?? Striking??? Fugheddaboudit. Last evening during Saint-Saëns’ slow middle movement, Joe, Todd, Yoshinori, Evan, Adam, Zach, Jess, Marty, and both Alicia’s brought it on. Y’all never, ever cease to amaze this rodent. [whew!] Seriously.

Hannu Lintu and Benjamin Schmid Tackle 10 Questions

The Ultimate in Good TimingThis Saturday through Monday, the Oregon Symphony is hosting guest conductor Hannu Lintu and guest fiddler Benjamin Schmid. The classical beaver is so stoked for these upcoming concerts, it decided to go for broke and interview both of these superstars. Let’s meet ’em, shall we?

Maestro Lintu, you’re scheduled to conduct Shostakovich’s 15th (and final) symphony this weekend… a work the band has never yet performed! How would you describe this music?

I think this piece is a unique combination of humor and mature musical thinking. It is a touching testament of a great symphonic composer.

Can. Not. Wait. Hey, congrats on your appointment as Chief Conductor for the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra! Suppose I had 48 hours in Helsinki ~ Any suggestions?

I would go and see the home of Jean Sibelius, listen to a concert in our excellent new Music Centre, and explore the beautiful archipelago… including the fortress island of *Suomenlinna.

Sounds perfect! And speaking of music centres: You’ve been all over the globe and I’m wondering if you have any favorite concert spaces?

The Philharmonic Hall in Saint Petersburg, Russia and Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

Nice. Um, not to be weird or anything, but if I could buy you a drink, what would you order?

That would be a Negroni.

I’m a Bombay Sapphire rodent myself – hope that’s okay. Before I turn to Ben, what are you expecting from your visit to P-Town?

I’m looking forward to meeting my friends in the fantastic Oregon Symphony again – and to play with Benjamin Schmid with whom I have recorded and performed a lot. And eat well, or course. Everyone in Europe knows that Portland is the culinary capital of the US.

Well, perhaps I’ll run into you at Clyde Common then! So talk to me Mr. Schmid: Why is the violin so darned awesome?

Because it can connect two notes in the most beautiful and varied way.

Indeed. What’s so great about experiencing classical music live?

We constantly deal with the greatest spirits of mankind, making them alive through playing, and it is continuous team work: other great instrumentalists, conductors, composers, arrangers, violinmakers, concert promoters, audiences – we all work together to enable one fantastic and instant experience: Music.

Wow ~ Thanks for that sweet response! You’re on tap to perform the third (and final) violin concerto by Camille Saint-Saëns this weekend. What composers really rock your world hard?

Bartók and Brahms.

Awesome – No one ever says Bartók! You also perform a fair amount of jazz ~ What’s the biggest difference playing jazz versus playing classical?

In jazz you can change a mistake into an idea – if you can keep a pokerface. As a classical violinist, if you play with good intonation, it’s already half a win. In jazz if you play with good timing, it’s already a 95% win.

Since you’re a fan of both classical and jazz, do you happen to have any guilty pleasures in the world of pop music too?

I have lots of other vices.

Let’s leave it there so my little imagination can run wild. Maestro Hannu and Superstar Schmid, I am sooo looking forward to hearing you both Monday night ~ Thanks so much for chatting with the Beavs!

benjamin schmid tackles 10 questions

another classical show, another world-class musician coming to the schnitz.  this time we lucky portlanders get to hear austrian benjamin schmid jam with the band, and i’m tellin’ you it’s gonna be a goodie.

you’ll be playing william bolcom’s violin concerto with the oregon symphony this weekend – how would you describe this piece to someone who doesn’t know much about classical music?

It is one of the best contemporary violin concertos I know – it combines complex composing tools with clarity in expression.  For me, its message is playfulness, dancing, sophisticated harmony, Nostalgia, virtuosity, and tectonic danger.

why is the violin so awesome?

Because it can connect two notes in the most beautiful and varied way.

what’s so great about experiencing classical music live?

We constantly deal with the greatest spirits of mankind, making them alive through playing, and it is continuous team work: other great instrumentalists, conductors, composers, arrangers, violinmakers, concert promoters,             audiences – we all work together to enable one fantastic and instant experience: music.

how do you feel at the end of a concert?

I ask myself: How is this possible, all these shared feelings, this unspeakable communication?

if you weren’t a musician, what profession would you choose?

I have no idea.

how is playing jazz different from playing classical?

In jazz you can change a mistake into an idea – if you can keep a pokerface.  As a classical violinist, if you play with good intonation, it’s already half a win; in jazz if you play with good timing, it’s already a 95% win.

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

But I don`t know you…

what composers really rock your world?

Bartok, Brahms.

what is your guilty pleasure in the world of pop music?

I have lots of other vices.

any thoughts as to what sets the oregon symphony apart from other orchestras?

Since I am there for the first time, I don´t know yet – but I know James Gaffigan, and he is superb.  So I expect an exemplary interpretation with this famous American orchestra in this outstanding American violin concerto.  I can’t wait to play!