Posts Tagged 'Jon Kimura Parker'

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


dancing with the stars – part II

on monday night, when the tuxedo-clad roadies began rollling the steinway onto the schnitzer stage, a few folks in the audience started clapping as the grand lady made her entrance.  whoa nellie, now that’s my kind of people.  [a beavertail salute to whoever you were!]  anyways, once the wheels were locked and the music stands were re-positioned for a dramatically slimmed down orchestra, a rather unassuming *jon kimura parker walked out from stage right (necktie and all), sat at the piano bench, quickly wiped off those 88 keys with his little red kerchief, and signaled silently to coach kalmar: i am now ready to channel the gods.

the low drone of deep strings… the darkly wailing winds… the sense of sonic doom shifting about within the key of d minor… um, the twentieth piano concerto composed by wolfgang amadeus mozart certainly does not begin how one might expect.  no wonder this was some of uncle Ludwig’s favorite music – it’s downright sturmey und drangey!  ’twas actually a bit of a relief when the piano finally introduced itself, its passivity gently rubbing off on the band and effectively mellowing its harsh, so to speak.  some initially tentative keyboard pokings quickly morphed into a confident command, and before we in the crowd knew what hit us, the 9-foot-long piano began assuredly weaving in and out of our mighty orchestra like ryan gosling’s suped-up impala evading the po-po in driveswoon!  and what to say about that freakin’ cadenza monday night?!  did the beavs catch a mozart-Beethoven-alfvén-parker mash-up?  [sheesh, coach kalmar wasn’t kidding about that tenacious swedish earworm.]  eventually the excitement subsides and, as though mirroring its murky beginning, the first movement suddenly peters out…

…and the middle movement begins.  oh.  dear.  god.  now the solo steinway leads off, gently introducing us to perhaps *the most sublime music ever created.  like, in all the universe.  like, ever.  sure, homo sapiens have a tendency to treat each other shabbily, and okay, they seem to be obsessed with warfare and greed, and yep, they’re currently destroying our planet with alarming alacrity.  but at one point over the course of history, a guy with the ridiculous name of wolfgang created something so perfect, so brilliant, and so beautiful, those human failings mentioned above seem rather inconsequential and humanity was forever redeemed.  oh my, what an absolute treat to finally hear this music performed live.

the concerto finale rockets off into the stratosphere at breakneck speed, and how the hell jackie pulled it off is totes beyond me.  wow.  his hands were sick, dude, and at times nothing more than a fleshy blur.  with insane skill and grace from start to finish, mr. parker delivered a performance that will stay with this particular rodent for a long, long, long time.  while some tepid local critics proclaimed this program was “well worth checking out” [ahem], the classical beaver says you are a damn fool if you missed it.  jkptid!

p.s. from j.k.p.

you know when like eric clapton, mark knopfler, or john mayer step in front of their rhythm bands during a live performance of layla, sultans of swing, or your body is a wonderland so they can totally shred on some bluesy electric guitar riff for like 15+ minutes in front of a frenzied stadium crowd with bic lighters and cell phones aloft?  well, that’s called a cadenza in the classical world.  when writing things like piano or violin concertos, composers will often pen the entire solo part, but sometimes they just leave the damn spot open for the virtuoso to play whatevs.  ol’ beavey asked mr. jon kimura parker what he had in store for tonight’s mozart piano concerto #20, and he graciously replied:

I’ve written my own cadenzas for both 1st and 3rd movements; however, it would be more accurate to call them a pastiche of sorts.  I’ve heard many recordings over the years, so bits and pieces of other cadenzas are in there.  For example, the last few measures of Beethoven’s cadenza in the 1st movement is so spectacularly well-written that it seemed pointless to try to do anything differently.  I also like to leave a little room for some improvisation, as a nod to how Mozart himself would have treated them.  I think the composer would have approved!

a mozart/parker/Beethoven mash-up?!  dear god, the beavs cannot wait for tonight’s oregon symphony season opener.  hope to see you there!

what’s on tap?

this saturday, sunday, and monday the oregon symphony sports their inaugural program of 2012/13.  after ironically celebrating the autumnal equinox with a swedish midsummer rhapshody, the band welcomes jon kimura parker to the steinway for mozart’s glorious piano concerto #20.  the program concludes with a 2005 sonic nugget from american composer andrew norman and the symphonic dances of mr. sergei rachmaninoff.

why go?  well, this rodent happens to think a live performance of any mozart piano concerto oughtta be on everyone’s bucket list, and wolfie’s number twenty is a wickedly sublime choice indeed.  and as if you needed more incentive, the band is gonna open up a can of symphonic whoop-ass with rachmaninoff’s dances – a composition that keyboardist j. k. parker suspects “…may be the most exciting moment in all of orchestral music.”  what?  still not sold?!  okay, here’s the clincher: the above-mentioned 21st-century ditty by andy norman is entitled drip, blip, sparkle, spin, glint, glide, glow, float, flop, chop, pop, shatter, splash.  (seriously)  that’s what i thought ~ see you there!

stop in the downtown box office at ninth and washington or *go online and snag some tix now.

p.s. these concerts will be the only time all season you’ll get to hear our brilliant associate concertmaster peter frajola sing the national anthem… while playing the fiddle!

jon kimura parker tackles 10 questions

this saturday, sunday, and monday, keyboard megastar jon kimura parker sits in with the oregon symphony to help officially open their 2012/13 classical season.  p-town is lucky to host him, and the beavs is lucky to have him tackle 10 questions for the blog.  let’s get to it, shall we?

you’re scheduled to perform mozart’s piano concerto #20 with the band ~ how would you describe this music?

Mozart 20 is the “Bad Boy” of Mozart piano concertos.  If you have a vague notion of Mozart being polite, this masterpiece of drama, darkness, and dissonance will convince you otherwise.  It’s truly operatic.  Every time the music begins to promise sunshine, there’s a plot twist and the scene changes.  Even the 2nd movement, titled Romanza, is interrupted by a truly violent outburst.  Eventually Mozart turns the tables on everything and ends in a surprising spirit of optimism.

i happen to love bad boys – cannot wait to hear you play this thing!  let’s see… rachmaninoff’s symphonic dances also grace the program.  what are your thoughts?

This is his last work and dispels everyone’s popular notions of the composer.  Although there are the kinds of melodies that made Rachmaninoff famous throughout his lifetime, the overall flavor also veers into darkness and mystery.  The end of the Symphonic Dances may be the most exciting moment in all of orchestral music.  It’s earth-shattering.  You’ll be looking around for microphones and speakers, but rest assured that it’s all unplugged!

the most exciting moment in all of orchestral music?!  wow, that is quite a bold statement mr. parker… you have my little heart thumping with anticipation!  i’m thinking i need a drink after your response – what are you having?

Assuming you don’t want to pay for a glass of ’82 Petrus, I’d order a Bombay Sapphire martini with a twist.  Of course, in Portland, I might ask for a beer recommendation.

now you’re talking.  and as luck would have it, another fresh hop season is upon us!  okay, don’t get me started on beer.  next query: suppose i have 48 hours in vancouver (canada‘s, not america‘s) ~ what should I do?

After a morning latte, head to the Museum of Anthropology near the campus of the University of British Columbia.  There is no other museum like it in the world.  Find a Japanese noodle shop for lunch and have a big, steaming bowl of ramen.  Drive to Granville Island and walk around the shops and market.  Go to Tojo’s for dinner and submit to whatever he wants to serve you.  The next day, drive to Stanley Park and walk around the seawall.  For lunch, hit Japadog and try something you’ve never heard of.  Resist returning to Tojo for dinner and try Vij’s Indian.

yum!  alright, i’ll ask you the same question i asked *james ehnes a while back: you are a member of the order of canada ~ what are your responsibilities and, more importantly, do you have a sword?

Sword?!  Wouldn’t that have been cool… I was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1999, and I consider it the single greatest honour (note Canadian spelling) that I’ve ever received.  There are no responsibilities attached to it except to continue to be a good citizen of Canada.

officer parker, what is your favourite piano to play?

I have a baby grand Steinway, the only piano that I’ve ever owned personally, that I just love.  I bought it from a student in my 2nd year at Juilliard, and it has a beautiful sound and a friendly touch.  Ironically, it’s a piano I’ve never performed on professionally!  Such is a pianist’s lot…

nice.  hey, if you could invite 3 composers out for dinner, who would you choose?

Mozart: we’d go for a beer and shoot pool.  Brahms: I’d just want to say thank you over a Linzertorte mit schlag.  Frank Zappa: ’nuff said.

uh-oh: i hear wolfgang’s a bit of a hustler – watch out!  tell me, what’s so great about experiencing classical music live?

Personally I love sitting in the balcony and scoping out the orchestra with binoculars, but it’s also fun to sit up very close and see the coordinated efforts of dozens of violinists performing as one.  A symphony orchestra offers the sheer sonic glory of so many musicians performing live on acoustic instruments ranging from the piccolo to the tuba.  When you’re there live, the music envelopes you and just takes over.

you play as many as 100 concerts in a single year, which is kind of insane for me to even think about.  do you get butterflies anymore before a gig?

I get a little nervous before almost every performance.  Generally it’s ‘good’ nerves, the kind that kick up your adrenalin and push you to greater heights.  Occasionally the ‘bad’ nerves creep up, like when you’re playing in Carnegie Hall, or playing for live television, or playing anything for the first time.  But still, it’s a necessary part of being onstage.

okay, last question: what are you expecting from the oregon symphony?

Nothing less than perfection!

done.  mr. parker, on behalf of all those beaver readers out there, i can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your crazy-busy schedule and offering up some truly brilliant responses.  sooo looking forward to your upcoming show!

now, about those fresh hops…

happy days are here again

holy schnike ~ the oregon symphony’s official classical season is knock, knock, knockin’ on portland’s door!  and while it is most certainly tempting to survey the upcoming brilliance of 2012/13 in all its orchestral glory, this rodent will do its darnedest to stay in the present moment.  sorry y’all, but future highlights like gustav mahler’s epic symphony #6, alban gerhardt’s inaugural turn as artist-in-residence, Beethoven’s always thrilling ninth, and mr. stephen hough’s cacao-fueled reappearance behind the steinway (currently 162 nights away) will just have to wait patiently.  now is the time to celebrate: just one more week until my furry little behind is once again planted in a lower balcony seat… just one more week until a baton-wielding maestro carlos summits the schnitzer podium… just one more week until p-town’s ultimate cover band blows my mind and breaks my tiny heart!  um, “eager” does not even begin to describe the current emotional state of this particular beaver.  everyone here at the home office agrees there is no better way to kick off 2012/13 than with an interview ~ and lucky for us we’ve got a doozey.  tune in wednesday night when the classical beaver chats with the oregon symphony’s first guest soloist of the official classical season!  yay!

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