Posts Tagged 'Jessica Sindell'

Ready, Set, Koh – Part II

Alpine ActionFollowing intermission, Carlos & the Gang closed out 2012/13 with a classic, old-school gem: Brahms’ massive First Symphony. The oft-gruff composer took two decades to write this music, but it only took the Oregon Symphony about 45 minutes to knock it out of the proverbial ballpark and prove, once again, why they are Stumpland’s ultimate cover band. The stormy opening measures were underscored by the ominous timpani strokes of Jon “Animal” Greeney who (per the youzhe) held court with a kettle drum masterclass until the final roll of the rocking finale. Every freakin’ section demonstrated sublime moments of glory throughout… Captain Frank and the stand-up guys of the double basses… Mr. John Cox and the impressive array of alpine-infused horns… Evan ably leading the battalion of bassoonists… Jeffrey workin’ it with the sexiest line-up of brass you ever will witness. [Yowza!] And extra-special beavertail salutes go out to oboe god Marty Hebert, flute wonder Jess Sindell, and our kick-ass concertmaster Sarah Kwak: Um, y’all are simply brilliant. Period. Monday night proved to be the perfect capstone atop another transcendent Oregon Symphony season filled with surprises, loaded with talent, and chock-full of the most jaw-dropping music humanity has ever produced. I don’t know about you, but this rodent is already stoked for 2013/14 ~ YAY!

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.

Homeward Bound – Part I

Grad TidingsGoot Eevnink… The first words out of Maestro Kalmar’s mouth last night were not only welcoming, they were prophetic.  Turns out the evening was going to be very good indeed – the final performance of a 3-day homestand featuring the band’s intrepid music director back on the podium and soprano Amber Wagner back in the Beaver State.  It was a special occasion after all, so the program appropriately kicked off with some occasional music from Mozart: his “Posthorn” Serenade No. 9 to be precise.  What could have been utterly forgettable classical Musak® in the hands of most composers, the recessional accompanying Salzburg Benedictine University’s latest batch of grads in 1779 was penned by a 23-year-old hometown genius, and we humans still find ourselves playing the music without any expectation of turned tassels or tossed caps.  Elegantly joyful and perfectly crafted, Wolfgang’s episodic serenade served as a brilliant showcase for the elite group of orchestral musicians assembled.  On flute and oboe, principals Jess Sindell and Marty Hebert stuck every complicated landing, flawlessly illustrating the technical marvel that is the Oregon Symphony woodwind section.  And what about those strings?!  [sigh]  The violins never sounded sweeter, once again weaving sonic wonder, skillful precision, and powerfully surprising emotions under the leadership of newly minted concertmaster Sarah Kwak.  After seven movements of absolute acoustic pleasure, the Schnitzer crowd was dismissed for intermission, instilled with a great spirit of encouragement and expectation for the very, very near future.  O ~ the Joy!

My Winner With André – Part I

Orchestral TwisterIf someone asked me a year ago who the heck Paul Hindemith was, I probably would have guessed astrophysicist, movie director, and congressman before discovering the guy was actually a 20th-century composer and violist from Germany.  I know this now thanks to the Oregon Symphony, who kicked things off last night with Hindemith’s Concerto for Orchestra in their very first program of the new year.  [And if this music is any indication, 2013 is gonna be a wild ride with the band… Ooh-Whee!]  The incredible 12-minute work blasts off in a whirlwind of strings, and immediately seized the Schnitz like a single-wide trailer twirling helplessly inside an orchestral cyclone.  At times, the eye of this ferocious twister would pass over, making space for an absolutely insane trio of violin/oboe/bassoon that offered little consolation amidst the storm.  [Big beavertail salutes go out to Carin, Marty, and Concertmaster Kwak for blowing and bowing me away!]  Pure, spontaneous applause broke out after the second movement, giving guest conductor Christoph König a chance to catch his breath.  Built like a gymnast and dressed like a priest, Maestro CK-2 displayed fascinatingly fluid movements on the podium all night, slyly drawing out moments like Jess and Zach’s utterly magical flute-and-piccolo duet in Hindemith’s slower middle movement.  [Um, Wow!]  The composition ended with a powerful percussive punch right in the cochlea which left last night’s crowd a bit dazed.  Conductor König eased us into an ovation, deftly inviting particular musicians to momentarily rise for the applause before finally asking the entire band to stand.  This unusual conclusion (along with the clapping that peppered the piece earlier) made for the most organic and authentic audience reaction this rodent has ever witnessed, unexpected yet strangely reassuring – sorta like Hindemith’s Concerto for Orchestra.

the biggest bang

after politely munching on a small appetizer of ballet music from franz schubert, the house lights went up for intermission and the oregon symphony began swelling its ranks to tackle last night’s gigantic pièce de résistance: gustav mahler’s symphony number six.  clocking in at 80+ minutes and requiring 90+ musicians, this composition is massive even by mahlerian standards; frankly, just witnessing the logistics of this performance was worth the price of admission.  folks, we’re talking about 9 glorious french horn players… we’re talking about 10 mighty violists… we’re talking about raised platforms of 16 stunning men banging and blowing their hearts out!  [sigh]  and to be clear, it wasn’t just about quantity on monday night – the quality of the entire group’s performance was beyond staggering.  whether it was concertmaster kwak fiddling or ms. sindell soloing or b-man gardiner slapping his giant-ass bass drum with an unidentified object, every single musician on stage was quite clearly giving it their all.  the band’s balls out playing reached such epic proportions that after the third movement scherzo twirled itself out, a slim, trim, and tailless maestro carlos instructed the band to re-tune before ultimately launching themselves into the finale.

with the hallucinatory sounds of harp, celeste, and soaring strings, the immense final movement opens like a fantastic dream – only to be smashed 30 seconds later by an epic symphonic crash.  oh, i’m sorry: were you clinging to some feeble anticipation of a satisfying resolution or a final taste of healing redemption?  forget about it: mahler discards the listener’s hopes like junk mail.  right after crumpling them up.  seriously ~ even after absorbing this music nonstop for weeks at home and purposefully relocating in the balcony to get a clear shot of the infamously reinforced wooden block, captain niel’s first goddamn hammer blow still scared the crap outta me.  this is devastating music throughout, and with only a couple of minutes remaining in the piece, a weary, post-katrina brass funeral march signaled once and for all that the jig is up and we are, to put it mildly, most definitely fucked.  the time for diversionary escape is completely over and the moment to meet our maker has arrived.  on second thought, scratch that… in his sixth symphony, mahler reveals there is no maker to meet.  after an unbroken string of frighteningly miraculous moments, the band unleashed the biggest bang in the history of classical music and annihilated the schnitzer crowd, taking our breath away, once and for all.

exit through the gift shop – part III

in a program completely devoid of expected overtures, predictable symphonies, and traditional concertos, it seemed fitting the band got to perform a true rarity last weekend: music from a composer who is [wait for it…] still alive!  that’s right, 80-year-old sofia gubaidulina is alive and well and living in hamburg.  it’s worth noting that the composer came of age in the censor-happy soviet republic, and during her studies at moscow’s conservatory, the 20-something sofia was encouraged by a certain professor dmitri shostakovich to “continue down her mistaken path.”  gubaidulina clearly took the coded compliment and ran with it, spending a lifetime creating curiously mystical music using über-uncommon instrumental combinations.  monday night’s fantastical fairytale poem at the schnitz was no exception, offering an opportunity for folks to describe the music as fingernails on a blackboard and sincerely intend the comment as a flattering remark.  upon returning from intermission, guest maestro cee-miggz lovingly introduced the piece by sharing the story that inspired the composition – essentially an existential version of the little chalk who could written by shel silverstein’s czech doppelgänger.  os concertmaster peter frajola helped to keep the intimate chamber ensemble tight, leading his small battalion of strings through an eerie intro that sounded downright mahlerian.  for the next 12 minutes or so, the band presided over a quiet prayer punctuated by moments of despondency and apathy, quite beautiful and quite strange.  big beavertail salutes go out to carol hammering it out on the steinway, yoshinori wailing it on the clarinet, and jessica totes blowing it up on the flute.  i’ll never hear anything like it again.  amen.

jessica sindell tackles 10 questions

happy monday ~ let’s get the party started with the band’s super-fresh principal flutist, shall we?  as if she has nothing better to do, jessica sindell was nice enough to chat with the classical beaver about her heart rate, her mouthpiece, and more:

so what was your reaction when you found out you got the gig with the oregon symphony?

I was thrilled, but I tried to stay as collected and cool about it as possible! Funny story: I was about to hop on the treadmill at the gym when I got the phone call from Carlos.  My workout was complete after finding out – my heart practically leaped out of my chest it was beating so fast!

so tell me, why is the flute so awesome?

I love the flute because it is the instrument closest to the human voice.  I tried the piano for a few years… you can shake your fingers as much as you want, but the piano will not vibrato for you!  Nothing against piano though – I just feel like I am singing into the flute when I am playing.

and what about the particular instrument you use?

Currently I play on an older Powell flute which was made in the 1970’s, whose previous owner was one of my teachers from Cleveland.  She played it in the New York Phil for a year, won her first job on it, and then ended up winning her piccolo job with Cleveland on it.  My headjoint is an Arista brand with a 14k gold mouthpiece – a very unique instrument combo and I’m a proud owner! Upgrading a flute can be very costly and a long process, but I’m going to be doing some major searching for my dream flute this summer.

speaking of c-town, what do you miss most about cleveland?

I do miss the days when I played in the Cleveland Youth Orchestra.  It was a special opportunity for me to perform and rehearse in Severance Hall, knowing my aunt played solo violin on that same stage with the Cleveland Orchestra on several occasions when she was younger.  I kept hoping that one day I too would become a member of a symphony and here I am today, my first job!

ahh… severance hall… a pre-concert stroll around the giant art museum pond… a post-concert cannoli in little italy… alright, snap out of it beavs. um, what 3 composers would you invite to dinner?

Hmm… I would love to dine with Ravel in Paris!  I’ve never been there and who better to sip on some wine with?  I mean this guy melts my heart with Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2.  Next composer would have to be Brahms.  We could hit up any restaurant for all I care, as long as I could ask him everything there is to know about his Symphony No. 4 and his unbelievable Violin Concerto.  Lastly, I would love to experience a dinner date with Mozart and his sister Nannerl, who apparently composed too.  I’m sure Mozart would keep me entertained with his humor.  It would be nice to play his Flute Concerto in G major for him at dinner or better yet compose an epic cadenza with him.

mind if we double date in paris?  i’ll bring debussy.  hey – what’s so great about experiencing classical music live?

I can’t quite explain the thrill I get when I’m on stage and I am about to perform a big classical work.  It can be stressful when a particular performance has a huge flute solo or it is technically challenging, but that stress I have right before a solo can sometimes turn into an intense concentration that transports me to another level as soon as I start to play.  This doesn’t always happen, but when it does I am in complete bliss and those are the moments I live for as a musician… the most beautiful and genuine playing can come out of these heightened emotions, even if stress and fear are involved.

sweet response: thanks!  let me buy you a drink… what are you having?

My current obsession is the CGP drink over at the Heathman Hotel!  No idea what it stands for, but it’s a delicious/on-the-fruity-side type of drink.

had one myself before the creation – totes delish!  i remember grapefruit being involved… yo, what did you think of the britten piano concerto you played with the band for your try-out back in november?

A relatively unknown work, even amongst classical musicians… I LOVED it.  The slow movement is so gorgeous.  I was very fortunate to perform that with Steven Osborne, as the recording of it I used to study the piece was by Osborne (very helpful as I prepared for the trial).  I loved that the principal flute has to switch to piccolo a few times in the last movement – I really enjoy playing piccolo when I get the chance, so thank you Britten!

yay, uncle benny!  are you stoked by any non-classical music?

I love it all… and yes that includes hip hop.  I tend to jam to self-created lists on Pandora.  Right now (as I’m writing these answers) I have my French Cafe Music playlist blasting, so fun.  There was a lot of Piazzolla going on this time, so hopefully my answers are coherent.  Broadway music tends to get my blood going too since I am a huge fan of acting and singing.  Radiohead is great as well, of course.

does anyone not like radiohead?!  seriously.  alright, that was rhetorical… wrapping it up, what are your expectations for p-town?

Too early for me to say… just so thrilled to be here.  I couldn’t have joined the Oregon Symphony at a better point in time.  Everybody I know has been raving about the new cd, the Carnegie concert received great reviews, and not to mention our conductor Carlos Kalmar is unbelievably musical and talented! It is such an honor for me to work under his baton.  He knows exactly and precisely what he wants from his players – it is such a special experience for me and I hope that this lasts for a long time.  Really looking forward to working with my colleagues on the rest of the exciting repertoire this season.  Cheers to that!

cheers, indeed!  and congrats again on snagging the principal flute position ~ really looking forward to hearing more of you this season.  thanks jess, for all the stellar responses!  – xoxo cb