Posts Tagged 'Sergio Carreno'

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


sergio carreno tackles 10 questions

gentle reader, the classical beaver is extremely proud to present its very first interview of the season with an oregon symphony musician!  hope you love it as much as i do.  let’s get right to it, shall we…

sergio, as a percussionist, you play so many instruments!  do you have a favorite?

That question is tough because of my ever-morphing perspective as an orchestral percussionist.  It truly does depend on the moment and piece day-to-day and week-to-week.  A few weeks ago I played the snare drum in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, so that was my favorite at that moment.  Then last week we played a wild piece by British composer Thomas Adès which has an amazing part for two and a half octaves of tuned cowbells!!!  So right now my favorite instrument to play is (drum roll)… the cowbell!

wow, even percussionists ask for a drum roll.  okay: as if you didn’t already know, mahler #6 is on tap tomorrow (!), sunday, and monday ~ how would you describe this insane music?

Well, there are many scholars out there who have dedicated a large portion of their careers studying the life and music of Gustav Mahler; I definitely encourage anyone to get on the internet and check them out.  Between now and then, here is some info from someone who is by no means a Mahler scholar…

All of Mahler’s symphonies musically capture the essence of his perspective on life, depicting everything from the love of his life Alma, to the cows he would hear in the Austrian countryside, musically represented by (you guessed it) off-stage cowbells!  You hear this and much, much more in his 6th symphony.  Probably most famous in this symphony is a device Mahler utilized to depict life’s “blows of fate” that befall his thematic hero, who many speculate was Mahler himself.  The device I am referring to is literally a hammer – a huge hammer usually played on a big-ass wooden box that is constructed just for this part.  Our principal percussionist, Niel DePonte, will be playing the hammer.  Lucky dude!

can.  not.  wait!  [sigh]  alright, ol’ beavey needs to change the subject before i hyperventilate… if i had 48 hours in miami, what should i do?

Very simple: the beach, Cuban food, and go dancing… or at least go watch other people dancing.  It’s pretty amazing down there.  Lots and lots of flavor, and I’m not only talking about the food.

nice!  have you discovered any favorite bars in p-town?

*Pope House Bourbon Lounge has the most delicious BBQ pork quesadilla this side of Kansas City, aside from the extensive bourbon selection.

pig and whiskey are two of my favorite things!  thanks for the recommendation.  serge, you joined the band at the very end of last season ~ what’s this probationary period all about?

Okay, so there are essentially two parts to gaining tenured position in an orchestra: First, you go through an audition process where many musicians will travel to compete for the one spot that is available.  Once someone wins that audition and is chosen to join the orchestra they enter their probationary period.  At the Oregon Symphony, a new musician has 16 working months to demonstrate their ability to prepare, rehearse, and perform up to the music director’s standards.  They must also demonstrate a high level of professionalism, so simply put: Practice and study your music very diligently, be early and not just on time, don’t be a jerk, and shower.

you are one of the cleanest guys i’ve ever met, so that explains it.  um, if you weren’t a musician, what career would you have pursued?

No clue.  Nothing else has ever appealed to me since deciding to go down this path when I was about 15… however, there are different choices which I thought about.  When I began to play the drums my first true dream was to be in a heavy metal band.  I grew my hair out and formed a band and we were going to make it!!  Somewhere along the way I was captured by the magic of this genre and now here I am.  Also, when I was about 5, I wanted to be a ninja.

doesn’t john cage have a piece for 18 throwing stars?  while i look that up, is there a program you are especially excited about this season?

Honestly, being that it’s my first full season with this orchestra my answer is ALL OF THE PROGRAMS!!  Really, just moving into town and joining such a wonderful group of musicians and colleagues there is not a week that I prefer over another.

that, sir, is totes awesome to hear.  so what’s so great about live classical music anyways?

There’s a magnitude to this art that you don’t discover until you are experiencing it live.  Think about trying to explain what it’s like to see the Grand Canyon in person versus on a tv screen, even if it’s the latest most HD flat screen out there.  There is simply no way of recognizing its impact on your senses until you are there.  So, if you want to know what it is like then GO EXPERIENCE LIVE CLASSICAL MUSIC.

despite all those caps, i couldn’t have said it better myself.  if i were to buy you a drink, what would you order?

A Cuba Libre… or (this is rather recent for me) a Chemex coffee from Stumptown.

let’s do both.  okey dokey, final question: what sets the oregon symphony apart from other bands?

They now have a heavy metal ninja playing the cowbells.

brush up your mahler

this saturday, sunday, and monday, the oregon symphony will undertake the most gargantuan work of their 2012/13 season: gustav mahler’s symphony number six!  folks, members of the band have been looking forward to performing this music ever since it was announced back in february.  (i kid you not.)  today the beav is here to offer 3 solid tips aimed at increasing your enjoyment of this epic event:

1) listen to it now!  if you’re not super familiar with uncle gustav’s sixth symphony, please do yourself a favor and listen to some or all 80+ minutes of this massive mass of music before your ass hits a schnitzer seat.  i offer you *this brilliant video of the chicago symphony orchestra hammering the point home… especially at the 1 hour 7 minute mark.

2) tune into all classical portland tonight!  on the latest episode of northwest previews, dj robbie mc-b chats with coach kalmar about the band’s upcoming mahlerian enterprise.  turn your dial to 89.9 fm in p-town or *listen anywhere online at 6pm this evening.

3) skip the pre-concert dirty martini!  opt for a *stumptown macchiato instead.  thank me later.

whew ~ okay beaver readers, you now have your homework assignments.  oh, and be sure to come back tomorrow when the classical beaver throws 10 questions at one of the band’s bang-bang boys!  (um, you ain’t gonna wanna miss it.)

now that’s pathetic – part I

i’m not sure what you were up to at age 24, but more than likely, it probably wasn’t wielding a baton in front of a world-class orchestra in a foreign country.  that is exactly what happened, however, for the oregon symphony’s first guest conductor of the season.  with a wide pudgy smile and a floppy mop of curly black hair, maestro aziz shokhakimov briefly took in the warm applause monday night before ascending the schnitzer podium for his american debut.  a celebratory number certainly seemed in order, so it was fitting the program kicked off with the only truly fun piece of the night: an über-popular, spanish-flavored smash hit from nikolai rimsky-korsakov.  chock-full of colorful combinations, engaging energy, and bombastic brilliance, uncle nikolai’s capriccio espagnol is kinda everything one might expect from a late 19th-century russian orchestrator at the top of his game.  and just when you think this ditty couldn’t get any better, the work also makes a point of highlighting many individual players in the band.  all of ’em were stellar (unsurprisingly), but none were more notable than concertmaster kwak’s solo fiddle backed up by sergio’s undulating snare drumroll.  wowee ~ muy caliente!

if you’re happy and you know it – part I

i’m not sure what ignited my infatuation with benjamin britten.  his amazingly colorful orchestration?  his out-and-proud lifestyle?  his commitment to pacifism?  perhaps ol’ beavey is just a sucker for alliteration.  whatever the reason, last year’s carnegie program featuring sinfonia da requiem sparked my love affair with britten, which was then nurtured by pianist steven osborne in november and by the band’s suite on english folk tunes in february.  i’m happy to report my slightly unhealthy relationship with uncle benny is still very much in its honeymoon phase after the oregon symphony’s knockout performance of four sea interludes & passacaglia last night.  the violins (sounding more radiant with every concert) set the stage for britten’s scene-changing music, introducing his first sea interlude with an ethereal melody – a melody that becomes a repeatedly unanswered question over a beefy-yet-restrained orchestra, evoking the beauty of sunrise with a hint of warning.  sunday morning, the second interlude, sharply depicts villagers as church-going automatons urged to action by church bells and rollicking buoys.  [btw, where else you gonna hear a 14-foot chime in action?  wow.]  and then there’s interlude #3: moonlight.  the warm strings of the viola, cello, and bass sections… the support from a smattering of woodwinds… the crisp percussive accents… i think it just might be four minutes of the most brilliant music ever written for orchestra.  these moonlit whitecaps were followed in concert by britten’s passacaglia – a disturbing interlude amongst interludes.  the biggest waffle-tail salute goes out to chief violist joël belgique, whose haunting instrument sounded downright amplified up in the lower balcony as it creepily traced the unraveling mind of rough-and-tumble fisherman peter grimes.  oh sure ~ the mahlerian thuds from sergio’s bass drum and the subterranean growl from evan’s subwoofer also helped to color the title character’s desperate situation with fairly dark shades of gray.  the set of interludes ended stormily, giving jon “animal” greeney [welcome back!] and his 70-some co-workers a chance to blow the schnitzer crowd out of the water, chugging to a capsizing climax.  luckily for the world, this performance was recorded for the band’s next album due out in the fall, showcasing (once again!) coach kalmar and the oregon symphony as masterful interpreters of benjamin britten’s orchestral anxiety.  bah-rav-oh!

rhythm nation, under god – part IV

camille saint-saëns dedicated his organ symphony to franz liszt – a perfectly appropriate payback, since liszt was the guy who boldly endorsed monsieur saint-saëns as “the world’s greatest organist.”  the work makes a stormy and tragic first impression, like brahms in a beret, and surprisingly one has to wait until a third of the work is over to hear the first peeps outta the pipes, which enter reverently low and lovely.  it was during this relative calm that the beavs first noticed guest conductor mei-ann chen was doing something it had never, ever seen before: conducting without a written score!  [maestra chen, that is totes bad ass ~ props, indeed!]  anywho… the organ mindfully weaved its way through every section of the band, creating a contemplative state of sound impossible to reproduce with any other instrument.  the vigorously returning brahmsian melody snapped us out of our meditation, returning the band to battle with sergio clearly leading the charge as triangle-bearer.  things turn suspiciously quiet for a spell, and then – whammo!  the organ (finally) takes the schnitzer crowd to church, busting out a ginormous c major chord and snapping any dozing heads back into their upright and locked positions.  while doug schneider was tearing it up on the rodgers 568 digital console, katherine george (who i wrongly assumed was the worst page turner in the world) stopped her wallflower routine and joined yoko greeney at the piano bench, teaming up like some keyboard avengers for a remarkable 30-fingered extravaganza of heavenly glory.  the last minute of this grand finale is absolutely chock full of pomp and extraordinary circumstance, with uncle camille pulling out all the stops.  [lol ~ literally!]  jesus h. christ: the brass, the organ, the timpani, the final resounding notes that mei-ann chen didn’t want to end… wow!  as the beaver exited the aisle and genuflected, it offered up a silent thanksgiving to that big conductor in the sky for such a wonderfully sublime orchestra right here in p-town.  gentle reader, can i get an amen?

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