Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Talking to harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani about performing, the authentic movement, recording and new works for harpsichord

Mahan Esfahani (photo: Bernhard Musil)

On November 2nd 2014 I spoke to harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani at his London home. Born in Tehran in 1984, his father gave him his first piano lessons. He then went on to explore his interest in harpsichord and organ in his teen years. In 2009, Mahan Esfahani made his Wigmore Hall solo debut, then making history with the first solo harpsichord recital ever at the London Proms of 2011. A celebrated soloist and recitalist, Mahan Esfahani has performed much in Britain, Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan.
PH: Mahan Esfahani, what are your earliest musical memories?

 Mahan Esfahani:  My earliest memories are of my father playing on our upright Petrov piano at home in Tehran. I guess I have no memories that are not connected in some way to music. In 1970, Deutsche Grammophon put out a giant set of LPs, which my father bought. It included a lot of Beethoven works - all the symphonies (the bad stuff too, like the “Battle” Symphony) but also works of Verdi. So I grew up hearing a lot of recordings of Klemperer, Ferdinand Leitner (there was the great Leitner recording of “Fidelio”), Wilhelm Kempff, etc.  (This seems ironic today, as I recently signed a contract to record on Deutsche Grammophon!)
PH: So you are from a musical family.

ME: Yes, certainly. On my father’s side, they are all quite artistic: they played music and wrote poetry. My uncle was a painter and my mother is a painter.
PH: Would you like to say something of your early musical training?

 ME: I was five or six and was always asking my father to teach me about music. He taught me some of the rudiments of piano – scales etc. I had such a strong desire to play the piano and could not get enough of it.  After listening to my father’s LPs, I remember once saying to him that I wanted to do “that”. So he taught me to play melodies, like that of the last movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No.9. When I was probably around six years of age, my father sent me to a piano teacher for lessons. I never needed to be told to practice; in fact, the worst punishment for me was to have the piano locked! I also played the violin from age of nine.
PH: So you did not go to a music school.

ME: No. It was all private lessons. I studied piano throughout my childhood and teen years. At school, I was the musician-clown, playing piano for all the various occasions. However, what I really very much wanted to do was composition. I was really into it when I was about 9 or 10 and all through high school I wrote a lot. Then I discarded most of what I had written, but kept a couple of movements here and there – a couple of movements for string orchestra I had written at age 14 or 15 when we were away on vacation, a few songs, a couple of pieces for piano, a small piece for piano and violin, and some other things. It is all charmingly mediocre.  I never took composition lessons and had nobody to guide me, but I did read books on theory, harmony, modern music and all that.
PH: What kindled your love for the harpsichord?

ME: I was very interested in music history and, at some point, I read a book about an instrument called the harpsichord, found a harpsichord kit, put it together and started playing on the instrument. At age 17, I went off to Stanford University, where I studied Musicology and History. (Actually my parents were intent on my studying medicine, but I really did not want to…which was a bit awkward). In the Music Faculty there were a number of harpsichords. A student friend and I would always meet for dinner on Fridays. My lessons ended around three o’clock and he would study till six. While waiting for him, I would go to listen to the Kirkpatrick’s complete Bach recordings, to a lot of Landowska, Leonhardt, Koopman and Růžičková, George Malcolm and others.  And then I had some lessons. I would contact any harpsichordist coming to San Francisco and ask them for a lesson or two. Well, I was studying Musicology for four years, but, somehow, I was always at the harpsichord practicing. In the corner of the harpsichord room at the university, there was a virginal and I would also play on it. So I just really found my own way into the field. Then there were some summer courses I attended, one of which I took with Ed Parmenteer in Michigan. He talked about ornamentation and that was quite interesting. I took an ornamentation table and put it up in my dorm room and studied it. Then I went to hear British composer Brian Ferneyhough; he lectured on modern music - Serialism and Stockhausen. And I met American composer Lou Harrison, who, of course, has written music for the harpsichord. So I got into modern music, but just on a theoretical basis.
PH: So you finished your undergraduate studies at Stanford. Where did you go from there?

ME: I finished my thesis and moved to Boston, where I began to take private lessons with (Australian-born) harpsichordist Peter Watchorn. And then I worked with Alan Curtis. But of all the harpsichordists I had heard on recordings, I liked Czech harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičkova’s playing the best. She heard some recitals I played and was very encouraging.
PH: How did you start performing?

ME: In 2006 I played a recital in Berkeley, but my first really professional recital - my European debut - was at a festival in Tuscany in 2007. I played a big all-Scarlatti program. Well, I was just 23 and chose to play all the difficult pieces! My performing career just kind-of happened. You give one concert, another concert comes along and then you get called for four concerts…and on it goes until you realize you are making a living from performing. I was, however, never really a part of the “harpsichord circle”.

PH: What does your performance diary look like at the moment?
ME: I play around 75 recitals a year. I’m a recitalist. That’s what I do. I do not really play much chamber music. I don’t play in ensembles but I have played a lot of concertos.

PH: Do you prepare editions?
ME:  Only for my own use. I did, however, orchestrate Bach’s “Art of Fugue” for the Proms a few years ago. I transcribe a few little concert pieces for myself. 

PH: How do you see the solo harpsichord recital stage faring at the moment?
MS:  I would like to see the harpsichord respected as a recital instrument the way the piano and violin are! That’s my goal. If your average concert-goer attends harpsichord recitals as he does piano recitals I will feel I have achieved something. Actually, there have been no problems with the mainstream public. If there has been any resistance, it has been from the harpsichord community itself, which does not accept the harpsichord as a solo instrument…especially when it comes to modern music.

PH: How do you relate to the Authentic Movement?
ME:  I address it with much curiosity. I have always read sources and continue to read them in French, German and Italian.  I think “authentic” is a marketing trick. I believe in authentic performance, but the whole movement has led a lot of people to teach certain mannerisms, resulting in a lot of artists doing exactly the same thing! They seem to have a set of strict rules and anyone who thinks outside of them is shunned.  I think that reading the sources points to the spirit of what this music was supposed to be. I do not want anyone to stand between me and the composer. Well, when working on contemporary music, I often have the composer sitting right next to me by the harpsichord and that is such an advantage!

PH: This brings me to my next question. Do you play much modern and contemporary music?
ME: Yes. I play a lot of modern music on the harpsichord. I think it is wonderful. I also commission works. So I play works by such composers as Poulenc – modern music let’s say – but I also play music of living composers.

PH: What contemporary composers have you played recently?
ME: Well, I recently played a piece by a young British composer called Daniel Kidane. He won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Composer Award and received a commission from the society to write a work for clarinet and piano. He is very good. I have just had a piece sent to me by a German composer called Markus Zahnhausen and am learning a few works by Danish composer Axel Borup-Jørgensen. Then there is Sunleif Rasmussen, another Danish composer. And I have just recorded Steve Reich’s “Piano Phase” and Gorecki’s Harpsichord Concerto for Deutsche Grammophon, coming out in April. 

PH: Do you see playing the harpsichord in today’s concert halls a problem?
ME: No. It has not been an issue till now. Especially for recitals it is a non-issue, in my view.  Modern listeners’ ears become used to the fact that the harpsichord is quieter than a piano. The decay of tone of the harpsichord comes very late and a piano is not that much louder. The piano has a big contrast of sound, which is why you hear it so clearly in a piano concerto. The harpsichord, on the other hand, integrates with the sound of an ensemble.

PH: When you are playing a recital, are you in your own private world of deep concentration or do you sense you are communicating with your audience?
ME: It depends. There are times when a recital is all about communication and there are times when I want nothing more than the audience to just watch me play and I share with them what I am doing for a couple of hours. But sometimes it is a sort of voyeuristic act; the audience is just watching me practice, in a sense.  However, that is also a form of communication. And, of course, performance has got to be about communication. To some extent, I cannot resort to baby talk: I simply have to play the piece for what it is and the people will glean from it what they will, but, now and then, I will underline a point musically. One might resort to unauthentic means to point out something to the listener, and I think that is perfectly fine if the listener gets what the composer is saying.

PH: So how do you feel on stage?
ME: It is probably the only place where I am completely happy. You see, life is much more difficult off stage. On stage it is easy. You do what you want to do. There are no restrictions on stage…for me, at least. You know, I just do what I want. I take a lot of risks; sometimes they work, sometimes they really do not work.

PH: In which case, recording must be a very different ball-game.
ME: Of course it is. You have got to commit something to disc which can bear listening to again and again and again. That is difficult.

PH: Do you find yourself compromising when you record?
ME: Rather than say “compromise”, I would prefer to say “I acknowledge that what you hear on the recording is simply the decision I made at that time”, whereas in recitals, I will make different decisions every time on some things; but there are some things that are obviously fixed – there are fixed variables, fixed posts and there are variables.  In recitals, some decisions depend on what I pick up from the audience and sometimes I might just decide to try something new that day. The performer, the interpreter, if you like, especially in Baroque music  (but actually in all music) has a sort-of position of co-creator with the composer and that will change as I think of new things, discover new things or realize certain mistakes. I think there is a tacit agreement between listener and performer that there are no fixed interpretations. Unfortunately, in the age of recordings, we assume otherwise, but that is just not tenable.

PH: Let’s go back to your composing. Have you returned to it?
ME:  Yes. a little…for enjoyment.

PH: Do you do anything with oriental music?
ME: Yes.  Am very interested in Eritrean music and have been transcribing a lot of their folk music. I also like listening to Turkish music – classical Turkish singing, Ottoman court music, actually.  This is a new-found interest; I like non-western music. I am very keen on Bartok’s music and have started to write some music inspired by Bartok’s style but based on Eritrean music.  These are still early days of my composing, but one is always looking for new material.   And living in London means being in a diverse city; as it happens, I live in an area where there are a lot of Africans.  It is really interesting seeing and hearing their culture.  

PH: What composers are you performing at the moment?
ME: A lot of Rameau, whose complete works I recorded for the Hyperion label; that recording was released last month. Am also playing pieces of Johann Christian Bach, Friedemann Bach, Emanuel Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach… I happen to be performing the Well Tempered Clavier Book 1 tomorrow for the London Bach Society. I am also busy with a work by the modern Czech composer Viktor Kalabis  and a concerto by Hugo Distler, which is really great; also a piece by Jørgensen, whom I mentioned before, and some music by modern French composer Maurice Ohana. Oh yes, and I am transcribing a Bach concerto to be played by mandolin player Avi Avital and myself!

PH: I wanted to ask you about your conducting.
ME: I tried it for a while. It is not my thing. I could be a middling conductor, but as a harpsichordist I feel I could really do something.

PH: What does your average day look like?
ME: I get up around 7 or 7:30, have tea, practise, take a walk, practise, have lunch, practise, more tea, practise, go to the gym., have dinner, then play a concert or go to a concert or play for an hour to an hour and a half before bed.

PH: Do you play fortepiano?
ME: No.

PH: Have you totally left the piano?
ME: I would love to have a piano in the house at some point. Do you know what I would play on it? I would play show tunes – I have a couple of books of Warner Bros. pieces - and some cabaret songs. I would have friends over to sing them…and some Kurt Weill.

PH: What are your future plans?
ME: There are a few big commissions coming up. Then there is a big concert of modern harpsichord music. I shall be spending the next year working on (although not performing) some Scarlatti from a manuscript that has recently been discovered. I am also doing research for a book project on Landowska. And in April, as I mentioned earlier, my first Deutsche Grammophon CD will be issued - the Bach Concerto in D minor, Gorecki, Steve Reich…

PH: An interesting mix.
ME: Yes.

PH: When it is not music, what interests you?
ME: I read a lot. I really like Russian literature - Gogol, Chekhov, Turgenev, for example, As well as a picture of Bach on my wall I also have one of Tolstoy there.

PH: Do you read them in Russian?
ME: No. I read their books in English, but am going to be studying Russian pretty soon. I travel, also for fun. And I like other cultures. They have so much to offer, not just in language…but also clothing, cuisine, and so on. I like that. When I was a kid I used to go to the airport just to see different kinds of people. I am simply interested in other people.

PH: Mahan Esfahani, many thanks for your time and for sharing so many ideas and experiences.







Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Talking to baritone Yair Polishook about his new Israeli Baroque opera project

Yair Polishook (photo:Dana Pomerni)
On March 11th 2017, I spoke to baritone Yair Polishook in Tel Aviv about his new “crowd-funding” campaign for a new Baroque opera ensemble in Israel. A singer familiar to lovers of opera and oratorio, Polishook’s main focus today is opera, both as a soloist in the Israeli Opera and in foreign opera productions. (He recently performed in a double bill of Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” and Charpentier’s “Actéon” with “Les Talens lyriques” in France under Christophe Rousset.) Yair teaches a little, but has set his sights at conducting. During his studies at the Trinity College of Music (London), he conducted a production of “Dido and Aeneas”.

PH: I understand you have a new project. How did it all begin?

Yair Polishook: The Israeli Bach Soloists ensemble, directed by Sharon Rosner, was disbanded over four years ago. We performed (mostly) Bach works, according to the theory that there were few singers and no choir performing them. This was highly interesting work for us as soloists and as a group. I have been wondering where we should go from there and what ensemble we could form that would be no less interesting. What interests me in particular is opera, so I approached some of my colleagues from the IBS and other singers from the Israeli Opera, with the aim of establishing a Baroque opera ensemble, in which each artist would have the chance of expressing himself/herself to the maximum.

PH: Would you need a large number of singers?

YP: No.  Baroque operas may sometimes require that, but we have found that working with a small ensemble creates a more organic and interesting group…more interesting both to singers and audience. In my opinion, a smaller group makes for more dramatic impact – each singer plays a character in the plot. And I am a “stage creature”; I love theatre (and music, of course) so my world is the world of opera. There are so many Baroque operas, of which not many are performed in Israel; what also interests us is authentic, historically informed performance.

PH: So, no opera chorus?

YP: Well, it is clear that Telemann meant there to be a choir, but we will work only with soloists to try to create this more engaging experience.

PH: Who have you approached?

YP: Daniela Skorka, Einat Aronstein, Shahar Levi, Alon Harari, Guy Pelc and Oded Reich, a real team of “all stars”.

PH: Who will conduct the ensemble?

YP: That will be my job. I studied conducting in high school and then with Mendi Rodan and Avner Biron at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. So, I am interested in extending that side of my career. For the ensemble’s first program I will not be singing but conducting. But it may be that we will sometimes work as an ensemble without a conductor.

PH: What will the company be called?

YP: The Orpheus Opera Ensemble. I chose this name, as the first opera we want to produce will be Telemann’s “The Wonderful Constancy of Love, or Orpheus”.

PH: Would you like to say a few words about the work?

YP: Yes. It is a splendid work that was only discovered in the 1970s. Tel Aviv University has performed some parts of it, but the complete opera has not been staged in Israel. Only two recordings of it exist; so, you could say the work is not well known at all! It’s time to perform it. One of its greatest moments is the aria of lament Orpheus sings after Eurydice has died for the second time, as he has not managed to release her from the nether world. Apart from the music, the opera is very interesting: there is an extra character – the Thracian queen Orasia, who is always full of complaints, hence her extravagant tirade arias… The main character, it is she who sets the whole plot in motion. She is in love with Orpheus and sends a snake to bite Eurydice, thus banishing Eurydice to the nether world. And not just Orasia – all the female characters are strong women, so this is definitely no chauvinistic opera! The opera is based on a libretto by Michel du Boullay. The libretto Telemann used was written by Louis Lully (son of Jean-Baptiste). In aristocratic circles of Telemann’s time, people were interested in multilingual culture, the result being that in this opera the recitatives are in German; some of the arias are also in German but there are also arias in Italian and in French…and each in the musical style of its language! The Italian arias sound like Händel’s Italian style, the French arias closer to the style of Lully.  Telemann also knew Rameau and the queen’s very moving final aria could be have been influenced by Rameau’s style. So, in wishing to keep up with the taste of contemporary society and please his audience, Telemann has compiled an opera that is nevertheless quite organic and very compelling.  

PH: Who will do stage direction?

YP: Shirit Lee Weiss, whom I have known since 2010, when we were working together in Menotti’s “The Telephone” and have worked together ever since in productions of the Meitar Opera Studio and the Israeli Opera. She is outstanding in guiding each singer to understand the character being portrayed, and, on the other hand, seeing the opera in its larger meaning.

PH: And instrumentalists?

YP: We have decided to collaborate with “Camera XV”, an ensemble formed at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music (Tel Aviv), a group only existing for some five years, and running its own programs. Half of the ensemble has departed for studies further afield, so we are enlisting some more fine players – Tali Goldberg, Smadar Schidlovski, Daniel Tanchelson, Inbar Navot, Marina Minkin, Netta Huebscher, Inbar Solomon, Yigal Kaminka, Amir Bakman and Nadav Ovadia.

PH: And a home for the company?

YP: We have decided to be totally independent, in order to show what we can do. I hope that, in time, once we are up and running, we will have a permanent “home” in which we can work. We are presently looking for a place in Tel Aviv.

PH: What for you will be of prime importance?

YP: Communication with the audience. I am there to speak to my audience, an audience very different to that of Telemann’s time. The most communicative element is theatre. Music can be very beautiful, but I want interesting characters and opera narrative that will be fascinating and attractive.

PH: When do you intend to debut the company?

YP: Next season, i.e.2017-2018.

PH: So how can we help the ensemble get onto its feet?

YP: By going into Headstart, a site helping a variety of individual projects to get established. The idea is very simple: as yet, we have no budget or donors, but instead of waiting for them to appear, we want to ask people to buy tickets ahead of time for our first performance, to pay its expenses (lighting, sets, etc.) and to know that we have enough people interested in coming to hear us. You might call it reversing the order of things. A single ticket costs NIS 150, two purchased together will cost NIS 250. It is an opportunity to support us and believe in what we want to achieve. And we have some other interesting options: you might like to try a voice lesson, a conducting lesson (buy a ticket and lesson together), attend an open rehearsal (always interesting) or engage a private performance for some special occasion – 40 minutes of music with two singers, for example.

It’s very simple: you go into the site, there is a film clip about us. You buy your tickets and, most important,  when purchasing tickets your credit card will not be charged…only if we reach the amount we need to start the ensemble. But time is short: we have only to the  end of March to achieve our goal!

PH: Thanks for the information, Yair. I wish you all much success in the venture!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Talking to violinist and teacher Grigory Kalinovsky at the 2017 Eilat Chamber Music Festival

Photo: Anna Kari

On February 4th 2017 I spoke to violinist Russian-born Grigory Kalinovsky at the Dan Eilat Hotel, where he was performing at the Eilat Chamber Music Festival and also tutoring some young outstanding violinists taking part in master classes. Hailed by the Vancouver Sun as a “superior poet” and by Gramophone for his “heart and indominable will”, Grigory Kalinovsky studied at the Manhattan School of Music, becoming a member of faculty there on graduation and prior to his move to Indiana. A devoted educator, he is professor of violin at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, teaches at international summer festivals and holds master classes across the USA, Europe and Asia. Performing as a soloist and chamber musician, he collaborates with such artists as Pinchas Zuckerman, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Ralph Kirshbaum, Miriam Fried, Dora Schwarzberg and Paul Coletti. He has recorded with pianist Tatiana Goncharova. Their Shostakovich CD for Centaur Records was hailed by Maxim Shostakovich as a “must-have for any Shostakovich connoisseur.”

PH: Grigory Kalinovsky, is it your first time playing at the Eilat Chamber Music Festival?

Grigory Kalinovsky: Yes, it is my first appearance at the Eilat Festival, but certainly not my first visit to Israel. For several years now I have been giving master classes at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music and the Israel Conservatory of Music as well as at the Jerusalem Music Centre.

PH: What was your earliest musical experience?

GK: My father was an opera singer in Leningrad and, from age four, I had a teacher come to teach me music at home…not any specific instrument – solfege and ear-training and a little piano. When I was five I started violin lessons. I went to a neighbourhood music school, where I had a wonderful teacher – Tatiana Liberova- with whom I studied till I left Russia in 1989, emigrating to New York.

PH: Did you study in New York?

GK: Yes, I did conservatory studies with Pinchas Zuckerman and Patinka Kopec at the Manhattan School of Music, finishing my bachelor’s degree as well as my master’s with them.

PH: I understand you started teaching quite early on.

GK: Yes. I have always loved teaching. I first started teaching privately, then joined the Manhattan School of Music’s pre-college program and then taught in the college program, teaching there till about three and a half years ago, when I left for Indiana.

PH: Let’s talk about your performing. Are you currently soloing more or playing chamber music?

GK: Recitals and chamber music. I haven’t played solo with orchestra in a while. It takes too much time and effort (with three kids and 22 students!)

PH: Here, at the Eilat Festival, you figured prominently in chamber music concerts. Would you like to talk about your chamber music involvement?

GK: I got most of my chamber music training after graduating, basically playing with other teachers at chamber music festivals. In Russia, there was not much training in chamber music. So, I was lacking the skills, but picked them up pretty quickly and I love playing chamber music more than anything else. Now I play chamber music at the school and at festivals I am invited to attend.

PH: Do you have permanent groups with which you play?

GK: I did have a permanent group in New York. We had a clarinet quartet (clarinet, violin, ‘cello, piano). Over the years, we played in different combinations – clarinet trios, violin trios, etc.

PH: Playing here at the festival, how well did you know these other musicians?

GK: I met all for the first time here.

PH: How much rehearsing did you do?

GK: The standard number of rehearsals for a festival: there were two (with Amir Katz) for the Schumann A-minor Sonata op.105 and three for the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio in A-minor op.50 (Amir Katz - piano, Hillel Zori - ‘cello) we had three…well, two rehearsals and one run-through. But the artists do know the pieces. It works if people are experienced chamber music players, know the works and can “read” each other.  Of course, there are pieces you can’t put together like that. But, in the case of the Tchaikovsky Trio, for example, if you know what you are doing it “plays itself”. I have to say that the colleagues were amazing! Amir Katz is a superb pianist and how inspiring it was to play next to Hillel Zori’s ‘cello sound.

PH: Would you like to talk about your current work as a recitalist?

GK: Yes. Nowadays, I mostly give recitals in conjunction with master classes at Indiana University or at summer festivals. Next week I will be in Oklahoma to run a master class and to play a recital with my good friend Tatiana Goncharova – we played together for over twenty years while I was living in New York. On my way back to the USA, am flying through New York, will have a 6-hour layover there to have a rehearsal with Ms. Goncharova in Manhattan, then flying back home. (Have never tried rehearsing after a 12-hour flight!) Then we meet again in Oklahoma. Then I have another recital coming up with her at Indiana University.

PH: And I understand you have a recording with Ms. Goncharova coming out soon.

GK: Yes. It will come out in March on the Naxos label. It includes all the sonatas for violin and piano by Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-1996). Weinberg was a Polish Jew who fled to Russia, where he spent the rest of his life. He was a very close friend of Shostakovich and a protégé of his. Shostakovich considered him one of the most important composers of his generation. Many years ago, my father actually sang in one of his operas! I have a newspaper clipping of Shostakovich’s article on the premiere, in which he mentions my father’s name.

PH: Can you say a few words about the Weinberg sonata project?

GK: For various technical reasons, the CD is only coming out now, but we actually recorded it in 2010 It is very good music. Of course, when you take music written over a composer’s lifetime, there must be some unevenness of quality. We start with opus 12, the last work on the CD being written 10 years before Weinberg passed away. But it is all very interesting music, very diverse. The last piece – Sonata No.6 – was only discovered when I was already starting the project: I received a letter from the publishers to say they had just discovered a manuscript - Sonata No.6 -  in the archives. So, nobody had ever seen the music. In fact, when I started looking at it I saw things that were not actually playable. It was clear Weinberg had not worked on it with any performer. It was typeset for me and we figured out a few small changes to make it playable. I did not go for technically easy solutions, but, as I said before, there were just a few things that were simply not possible on the instrument. It is an absolutely incredible piece, written on the death of his mother – probably the most unique of the pieces, very short…under 10 minutes, very dark, very profound. It begins with a violin solo of a page and a half of running eighth notes (with different harmonies). It took me a while to realize what this was: one of those sensations when you lie awake at night and hear all the clocks in the house.  By the way, a lot of his sonatas have big piano solos – of several minutes – unusual for such sonatas.

PH: Was Weinberg a pianist?

GK: Yes. He studied as a pianist at the Warsaw Conservatory.   To write something that complex for piano he would have to be. Sonata No.4 starts with a three-minute-or-so piano solo. Sonata No.5, dedicated to Shostakovich, has a huge piano cadenza (Shostakovich’s Violin and Piano Sonata does, as well!)

PH: What else have you recorded with Tatiana Goncharova?

GK: The other CD we did a few years before that was the Shostakovich disc you mentioned above in the introduction. It includes Shostakovich’s Sonata for violin and piano and transcriptions of the opus 34 Piano Preludes. Nineteen were transcribed by violinist Tsyganov, who was a close friend of Shostakovich. I commissioned the remaining five from Lera Auerbach, who is one of today’s most prominent composers.

PH: Do you yourself play new music?

GK: Sometimes.  I have played some of Lera’s music, for example. Also, at Indiana University, I played two concerts of music of university composers – a work by Don Freund and another by Claude Baker, both wonderful pieces.

PH: What about Baroque music?

GK: Well, I teach it, obviously. No violinist can do without studying Bach. I haven’t performed Baroque music in a while. Before leaving New York, I did a Vivaldi concert in the Zankel Hall of Carnegie Hall. However, the older I get the more I appreciate the authentic style of playing…when it is done well. I feel like you have to know what you are doing in order to do it properly. I don’t have a Baroque violin, but I did buy three Baroque bows for my studio so my students to try them, see how it feels and get an idea of the Baroque idiom.

PH: What is your opinion of the standard of performance in the Eilat Chamber Music Festival?

GK: It is of a very high level. Wonderful concerts. What I heard was very inspiring. Really great musicians.

PH: You were also tutoring young players in Eilat. What age group were you teaching?

GK: The whole spread: one 10-year-old girl from St. Petersburg, then a 17-year-old Israeli boy (who is actually auditioning to study with me in Indiana), a university-age student of Hagai Shaham (Tel Aviv) and a girl of similar age from Malaga, Spain.

PH: How many lessons did each student on the program receive?

GK: Officially, we were supposed to give each student three lessons, but I gave them four where I could. They came with works prepared. It was a kind of master class, which is all you can do in such a short time span.

PH: What violin do you play?

GK: My current instrument is a late-1690s (Italian) Gioffredo Cappa violin. I have had it for 12 or 13 years. I use a Sartory bow. I have also just commissioned a violin from Collin Gallahue (USA), a wonderful contemporary maker I just met this last summer. I was very impressed with his work.  He is a student of the great violin builder Zygmuntowicz. I have always wanted to have a great contemporary instrument I could loan to my students for when they have an important performance. And at some point, many years down the line, I will retire and want to sell my Cappa, so it would be great to have another inspiring instrument to play. There is a three-year waiting period for a Gallahue instrument and I am looking forward to seeing the result!

PH: Professor Kalinovsky, it has been wonderful hearing your concerts at the Eilat Chamber Music Festival and most interesting talking to you. Thank you for finding the time in your busy schedule here.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Talking to New York-based Israeli pianist, composer and educator Guy Mintus

Photo: Maxim Reider

On February 2nd 2017, I met with Guy Mintus at the Dan Eilat Hotel, where he was one of the artists performing at the Eilat Chamber Music Festival. Born in Israel, the pianist, composer and educator today resides in New York, where he is active on the jazz-, world music- and contemporary music scenes. Guy Mintus has performed throughout Europe, North America and the Middle East. As a composer, he has won awards and commissions from such organizations as the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers, Downbeat Magazine, the American Composers Orchestra and the Imani Winds Ensemble and has shared the stage with master musicians from Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Spain, India, Cuba and Mali. His recordings include a debut album with the Offlines Project, a duo Guy leads with Israeli-Turkish percussionist/oud player Yinon Muallem (The Offlines Project performed at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage on International Jazz Day, April 30th 2016); also, a live solo album “The Mediterranean Piano”.

PH: You are a classical musician, a jazz pianist, you sing, play the melodica, you compose and you teach. How do you define yourself?

Guy Mintus: Thank you for the question. I first of all define myself as a human being and, only after that, as a musician. As a musician I am a pianist and composer and I also play some melodica and sing. You are right – I am active, but I don’t rush into defining myself as a “jazz musician” or a “classical musician”. What is jazz? What is classical? These are funny terms. I know they are necessary for marketing or categorizing and selling things to be “displayed on the shelf”.

PH: What are the main influences in your music-making?

GM: I draw inspiration from different worlds of music, not only classical, not only jazz; also from different types of world music – it could be from Turkey, Greece, Spain, Morocco, it could be Arabic music, Indian music, Israeli music. These are all sources of inspiration for me. In my own music, when I compose or improvise, these different facets come together to form something that is organic, that has been built over time. Sometimes I compose for symphony orchestras. You could say that this is more “classical music”, but within it you will hear many jazz influences, improvisations on world music - of Turkish music, Middle Eastern stuff…so I don’t know if it is classical. I guess it is in the eyes of the beholder. The defining factor of my music is not necessarily what we call “genre”.  It is the feeling one has when hearing it., being in touch with it. I believe there is a thread running through all the music I make and that is the feeling you get from the music. It’s not about the masses. It’s about reaching and touching people. That is as far as I can define it.

PH: How did you make contact with the different kinds of oriental music?

GM: First of all, I grew up in Israel. It is a Middle Eastern country surrounded by Arab countries. Israel has many Jewish people whose roots are from Arab countries and Arabic people from different backgrounds. So, it has always been around me. Also, I am half Iraqi, a quarter Moroccan and a quarter Polish. This culture is in my blood, you could say. But the fact that you asked about that shows that it is still somewhat exceptional for a classical- or jazz pianist to really be building into those styles.

PH: But isn’t it a bit unusual?

GM: The reason it is unusual is just because of the history of how things have happened institutionally. You go to a music academy of classical music; thankfully, more and more of them now teach jazz but very few teach other non-European styles. There are more paths of music than those we are taught.

PH: So how did you study this music?

GM: I was very lucky to meet an incredible teacher – Harel Shachal. He got me into deep study of oriental music. He taught me the Turkish maqam (melodic system). That was my gateway. From then on I kept studying with him, I kept exploring and playing with musicians, I started travelling to Istanbul, performing and recording there. In New York, I met amazing Indian musicians playing classical Indian music and I have studied and performed with some of them. I am open to these things and would not avoid studying, say, Iranian music or that from Azerbaijan just because they are not taught at my school. And all these kinds of music are connected to each other. I enjoy experiencing and spreading that, also bringing these sounds here, to the Eilat Chamber Music Festival. They are also a part of what chamber music is.

PH: What was your early musical training?

GM: I started learning small keyboards when I was 10, playing all sorts of pop songs – Beatles, etc. But thanks to the Thelonious Monk’s piece “Round Midnight”, I started playing jazz. I only knew the piece from the printed music, but when I finally heard Monk’s version of it, it sparked the idea of trying to improvise myself. That was what got me onto the path of exploring jazz music, getting into the history of it and eventually going to New York, which is where I have been living for the last four and a half years. There I have colleagues with whom I have worked for a while. It is very nice to be a part of this kind of community.

PH: Did you take studies in New York?

GM: Yes. I was at the Manhattan School of Music for three years. Since my graduation, I have been very fortunate to be doing music full-time, earning my living performing concerts, whether in New York, around the USA or Canada, Europe, Israel or Turkey. I have been travelling a lot, of course, and also receiving some commissions from different ensembles that are more identified with the classical/chamber music sector; they have commissioned me to write because they want me to compose in my style, not in the style of Mozart or in the style of contemporary composers, whatever that is. 

PH: You also teach.

GM: Yes. I give workshops all around the world, mostly on improvisation. I also have a workshop I call “Meeting Points”; this is about opening people’s minds to different kinds of music.

PH: When you are performing, what are your thoughts? Do you feel you are in your own world or are you engaging with the audience?

GM: Both, I think. I am open to the audience. I listen to what energy I get from the audience; that is a kind of guide for me. It is give and take. You have to have something you want to express. It doesn’t always need to be something you can define in words. It’s an internal thing. You have to just feel it. I have to listen to what my purpose here is. You are there to give something, to pass it on. I try to do that every time I go on stage. The audience is effective. For example, the first time you heard me it was in Tel Aviv in front of many journalists. Journalists are naturally very impatient, but I picked up their energy. That makes me play in a certain way. And many of them came up to me later to say how much they enjoyed it. Then, in trumpeter Jens Lindemann’s concert here at the festival, people were surprised when I came up on stage; some were moved to tears when I played one little solo on the melodica. So it is different every time, even if you are playing the same repertoire, and that’s the fun of it.

PH: What are your future plans?

GM: To continue this way for the next years. I am very happy with what I am doing. I hope to compose more. There is something else I should talk about - I am in the process of starting my own music label – Mintus Music. That is because of the need artists have today to establish a “home” for our own works, especially with genres today not as clear-cut as they used to be. I am active on different scenes and I need this for my output as a whole to be put out there. It is mainly for recording my works, but it may mean at some later stage that I release someone else’s projects, this also relating to me as it will be my choice. But it is a personal label, my own venture.

PH: What is your latest recording?

GM: It’s called “A Home In-Between” and will come out this April on my new label. The pieces were performed by my trio – the Guy Mintus Trio - the other members being Israeli bassist Tamir Shmerling and Dutch drummer Philippe Lemm, both living in New York. We three have worked together for a while. So, when we went into the studio, the album just “happened”. It was magic.

PH: Do you come from a musical family?

GM: Not of professional musicians. Not my immediate family. Both my parents are very musical but they don’t play instruments. They are lawyers. I do have some distant relatives who play very well.

PH: When it is not music, what interests you?

GM: Life, food, meeting people, travelling the world, seeing places, my family.

PH: Guy Mintus, many thanks for your time. And I so enjoyed your performance.

Playing the melodica (photo: Maxim Reider)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Talking to Norwegian tuba player Øystein Baadsvik about his career playing solo music on the tuba

Photo: Geir Mogen, Dimensions

On Tuesday January 3rd 2017 I spoke to Øystein Baadsvik in Trondheim, Norway, where he lives. Øystein Baadsvik’s career is exclusively as a tuba soloist. A player with an amazing virtuoso technique, his international career began in 1991 when he was awarded two prizes at the prestigious Geneva International Music Competition. Baadsvik performs with orchestras worldwide, appearing regularly at international music festivals. He has been enjoying playing in duos and small ensembles, also collaborating with jazz- and rock musicians.

PH:  How did you, the player of one of the bass orchestral instruments, become a tuba soloist?

 Øystein Baadsvik: I started off as an orchestral player, that’s true, and that’s primarily what the tuba was invented to do, but I was later inspired hearing very nice tuba-playing by, for example, Michael Lind in Sweden and Americans Harvey Phillips and Roger Bobo. Hearing them prompted me to pursue the melodic qualities of the instrument. There is a certain misunderstanding - that the tuba is limited by its size and design. You would normally think that you cannot do a lot on the instrument, because it was designed to be a bass instrument. Well, it happens to just be a piece of metal and this piece of metal is actually more constricted by your own mindset than it is by the laws of physics. That is the reason  we do not hear so many players performing solos on the tuba: either they simply do not want to do it, or they don’t practise enough to be able to, or they are simply happy playing the orchestral role. So, as with a lot of other things, it is mostly in your head, I would say.

PH: Is soloing on tuba accepted by conductors or orchestras?

ØB: Not always by those who haven’t yet experienced good solo playing on the tuba. It’s very, very new historically. For example, the first major tuba concerto was written in 1954 by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Then you have compositions by Paul Hindemith, Penderecki, John Williams (famous for his movie music) and by Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian, who has also written a famous trumpet concerto. Arutiunian writes very Romantic music. To answer your question, the instrument is much associated with tutti playing that many conductors are simply not aware of its qualities as a solo instrument.

PH: Is there enough repertoire to make a solo career viable?

ØB: A lot of people think there must be very little written for tuba solo, but if I were to play a marathon concert, performing everything that has been written for solo tuba from the 1950s up to now, I would probably be playing a concert lasting many weeks without stopping. There is so much music, but, as with violin music, for example, not all the repertoire has passed the test of time, eventually leaving works by the way to be forgotten. I think that, for tuba players, we are now in that process, with a lot of composers writing music for us. Much of it will probably not survive hundreds of years, but there are some really great composers writing for the tuba and some of the music being written now will accumulate to become the classical repertoire people will associate with the instrument.

PH: Mr. Baadsvik, what was your earliest musical experience?

ØB: I think it must have been my mother playing trumpet as an amateur trumpeter in a wind band in Norway. She used to practise at home and that is something I heard very, very early in my life.

PH: So, you are from a musical family.

ØB: Yes, I would say so. Both amateurs, my grandfather used to play the tuba and my father sang and played guitar. So, I would say that I got a lot of music through my family. I am the first to be a professional musician…so far.

PH: How did you begin your early musical training?

ØB: At age 10, I started playing the euphonium (like a tuba, only a little smaller), an instrument used widely in wind bands.  For some reason, it didn’t click with me, not working out as others and I had hoped it would. Maybe I was too young to understand the beauty of music at that time or I was physically unsuited to play it, or there could have been other reasons. So, I stopped that after two years. Three years on, at age 15, I was given the opportunity to play the tuba in a wind orchestra. That was the only available instrument, so it was the tuba or nothing. I accepted the offer and, two years after that, I started playing in the Norwegian National Youth Orchestra, beginning to play more and more solos and winning a few solo competitions. It was now clear that I was very well suited to the tuba… it was a very, very good match.  I think my singing voice suits the tuba very well, as does the way I think in musical terms and I had a very good teacher. He was a very accomplished tuba player in the Norwegian Military Band here in Trondheim – Elvind Rise – and, after that, I was taught by a very fine player from the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra – Reidar Nilsen. What was important with Nilsen was that he had connections all over Europe: he knew how the tuba was played in Germany, how it was played in England etc., and he was able to get these ideas across to me. I think that aspect of performance is getting easier nowadays: with Internet, for example, a young player can follow what other people are doing the other side of the planet. I think this is a good thing.

PH: When did you start performing in public?

ØB: Very early on. I think I did my first solo concert just one year after I had started playing the tuba. It was in the countryside outside Trondheim, where I grew up – a small town of about 2000 inhabitants. Despite its size, the town had four wind bands, two choirs and a number of traditional fiddle orchestras as well! So, almost everyone in the village played an instrument or sang – a very vivid musical environment.

PH: Where did you take higher studies?

ØB: In 1986, I moved to Sweden to study with Michael Lind. There, I was working in a symphony orchestra, starting off my solo career (I met my wife there), then moving back to Norway after almost ten years. Actually, I only studied with Lind for a short period of time, but took a lot of private lessons with other teachers; I went to the USA and studied with Harvey Phillips, Roger Bobo and other very accomplished tuba players there. John Fletcher (UK) was one of my mentors.

PH: Did these teachers encourage your solo career, or did they see you as most tuba players in symphony orchestras?

 ØB: Actually, I picked my teachers carefully, choosing those who had had solo experience from before, teachers who respected that kind of playing. This is not always the attitude of tuba players: some see solo work as a side interest for your spare time, but not anything to pursue as a career. My teachers, however, were very open-minded when it came to that. Michael Lind, for example, had been running a solo career all by himself, likewise Harvey Phillips. John Fletcher was a fantastic solo tuba player, but was reluctant to go for that career as he had a full-time position in the London Symphony Orchestra. He also did question whether the tuba really was a solo instrument, but he was still open-minded enough to teach solo playing to students like myself.

PH: So, would you say that it is not yet a routine career?

ØB: It’s an evolution and that is what it’s all about. I really feel I am a part of some kind of evolution, standing on the shoulders of those before me who developed the instrument to a certain degree; hopefully, I am able to take it a few steps further. I know that I have been inspiring other young tuba players to grab onto what I have discovered and probably they will pass this on further. The evolution is moving incredibly fast, if you compare it, for example, to the development of older instruments.

PH: Do you see a new generation of solo tuba players emerging?

ØB: Right now, unfortunately, I don’t see there being young players who have had that same appetite for the classical works, wanting to 100% dig into that solo repertoire. But, on the bright side, I have seen a lot of fantastic innovations, where people, for example, are bringing the tuba into jazz; not only are they playing jazz, they are playing totally new types of jazz. Here in Norway, we have several very accomplished tuba players who are having great success in jazz, rock- and folk music, not only providing the bass line but also letting the tuba do some melodic work; and the way they play bass is totally different to how you would on an electric bass guitar or double bass. This is just Norway, but, of course, in the USA you have a lot of brass bands consisting of a couple of saxophones, maybe a trumpet or two, a drummer and a sousaphone or tuba. These bands are very popular nowadays; there are several in New York playing at parties, outdoors and in clubs. This is also really a specific way of using the tuba.

PH: I hear you play a lot of chamber music.

ØB: Yes, I do. I very often play with piano. I have a few pianists with whom I work fairly regularly; we do concerts in different corners of the world. I also do some tours where I perform in different universities in the USA, playing with different pianists on each campus; so it’s rehearse in the morning and concert in the evening…the same the next day, and so on. This is very challenging but also very rewarding, because you learn so much from playing with different great musicians.

PH: Would you like to mention works that have been written for you?

ØB: Yes. There have been many. In fact, Christian Lindberg’s tuba concerto was written for me and I think I have premiered close to 60 works for tuba by different composers. A violinist/composer called L. Subramaniam - India’s greatest player of traditional violin music - has just written a double concerto for Indian violin, tuba and symphony orchestra. We have already recorded it and will now record some new pieces as well to complete the CD in Bombay in February.  Being part of the fusion movement back in the 1970s, Subramaniam has also worked with many artists, such as jazz musicians Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke and Hubert Laws, merging, for example, Indian music with jazz.  The tour that I am doing with a pianist in Sweden early in February will include another world premiere – a piece written by American composer Andrea Clearfield. And in the USA in July I will premiere a piece by Japanese composer Das Fujikura. I am practising on that now, too.

PH: What genres do you play, apart from classical repertoire?

ØB: Funny you should ask that right now, because two months ago, I was given the opportunity to play a concert here at an event in Trondheim. The concert organizers said: “Here you have some money (I think it was like 8000 US dollars). You can do whatever you like with it, but it should be something you have not done before due to lack of time or money, so it has to be new.” As it happened, I had a lot of rock songs lying in my drawer, like ballads and up-tempo things. They hadn’t been played because I had not had the opportunity to play them before. I also didn’t have a band, for example, and had never had time to pull it all together. So, here I had the opportunity to put together a concert of rock music with lead singer and a fantastic complement of drums, electric bass, keyboard and electric guitar. That was quite an experience. Well, I have been playing jazz over the years, with small combos and doing concert tours with US jazz pianist Chick Corea, for example.  Also, engaging in more fusion-like projects and, of course, the Indian style that I have been checking out lately with Subramaniam. I am very curious when it comes to different musical styles and do think that I have learned very much from trying out many, even when it also comes to putting  classical music together.

PH: What about early music? Do you play it?

ØB: I do. However, the tuba was invented in 1835. It must be the only instrument whose exact birthdate is known: September 12th, 1836. That is when the German musical instrument inventor Wilhelm Wieprecht took out a patent on it. Although there is no early music written for tuba, that doesn’t prevent us tuba players from playing, say, Baroque music. We simply “steal” the music from other instruments – ‘cello, viol or other instruments – and with a clear conscience! And anyway, Baroque composers often did not designate on what instruments a work should be played. In which case, it works beautifully. We can take, for example, Bach flute- and ‘cello sonatas. I have played Vivaldi… more for fun than for anything else, but, hey, I’m in this for fun! I have a friend - Tormod Dalen - living in Paris, who plays Baroque ‘cello. He makes fun of my playing Baroque music on the tuba, but I guess one has to live with that.

PH: What teaching do you do?

ØB: I don’t have a regular teaching job anywhere. There is no time for that, but I do give occasional master classes. This is very interesting. I really learn a lot from teaching and, after 30 years of doing it, being able to help quite a few students with their specific problems. You can split the work up into musical issues and technical issues. The technical issues relate to how to hold the instrument, correct breathing, how to press the fingers correctly, how to shape your mouth and how to place your tongue. Surprisingly enough, all of this technique has not really been fully standardized on our instrument. You would think that, after 150 years, we would have agreed on how to sit, how to breathe etc., but the consensus is slowly getting there. When I go to China to teach there is a totally different approach to what I see when teaching in the USA, for example, so this is something I do hope the Internet can contribute to standardizing. Then, there is the musical aspect of teaching -  purely about how to phrase and even some simple musical rules that get forgotten and need to be brushed up, one of the most important being that every phrase must have a destination. You cannot simply just start to play without knowing where you are going.  Without that, the audience does not get the music’s “punchlines”. There are a lot of simple rules like this I use in teaching.  

PH: Do you edit publications?

ØB: Yes. Over recent years, the publishing industry has changed tremendously since digitalization; distribution has changed so much. For example, I myself have a publishing company that is run by a colleague in the USA; he has 6000 to 7000 publications for winds. The way it is distributed nowadays is via PDF or it gets locally printed on demand. This development, of course, has led to the downfall of a lot of publishers. I do publish quite a lot.

PH: Do you write articles?

ØB: Yes, occasionally. I did more of that earlier on, but I do sometimes write, for example, when a student has a problem common to many players, to which we find a good solution. That’s when I tend to write a few lines in order to help others.  I usually post it on Facebook or on other social media. Also, when sitting on competition juries, I very often get many ideas. One of the last subjects I wrote about is the “selfishness of performing”.

PH: What do you mean by that?

ØB: When you listen to someone playing, you, as the audience, want to receive something. The very nature of playing an instrument is about giving. You have an idea, an emotion or a story you want to tell and, through your instrument, you give this to the audience. It’s an unconditional gift. The audience can take it or leave it. But, in many competitions, it’s actually the opposite. You can hear in the competitors’ playing that they want to receive something. They are on stage in order to achieve something, such as jury recognition, perhaps a grand prize, financial gain, glory and honour etc., and it is all about them getting something. This contradicts the very core idea of making music, so the music-making becomes very selfish. And so my last article was about this dilemma that we often experience in competitions.

PH: Do you do a lot of recording?

ØB: Yes, I think so. As to solo tuba repertoire, there is nobody who has done more recording than I have. At the moment, I have ten solo CDs out. I am planning three more; the Bombay one is half done, there is one with the rock project and then a disc of new repertoire for tuba and piano.

PH: How do you manage to keep up with your large and sometimes new repertoire?

ØB: I think that this is really one of the biggest challenges for a musician…to keep all the balls in the air at the same time. Ideally, you should practise a lot of works simultaneously – one hour practising this piece, another hour practising the next piece. For most people this is hard, because you tend to want to finish one work, focusing deeply on it and then continue on to the next piece. Very often that is not possible. In my present situation, I have to practise on the February repertoire and the works for Israel (January 21st-29th). The week before Israel, I will be playing with the Krakow Philharmonic in Poland, and I need to practise for that, too. Well, some of it is “maintenance”, keeping the old material fresh, but it is strange how fast a work deteriorates if you have not played it for a year. You really have to be able to jump from one thing to another several times per day, and that does not come easily to me.

PH: Will this be your first concert tour of Israel?

ØB: Yes. I will be soloing with the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra. I’m very curious. We are doing seven concerts.

PH: Would you like to talk about some of the unique works you will be performing?

ØB: One work will be a very nice tuba concerto by the orchestra’s musical director Christian Lindberg (who will be conducting the program); this is one of the classics that I believe will, in time, become part of the core repertoire for the tuba. I have also  written a tuba concerto; however, another composition of mine – “Fnugg Red” – will have its world premiere in Israel.

PH: Would you like to talk about the work?

 ØB: Yes. “Fnugg Red” was composed as a variation on a theme called “Fnugg”, which I wrote many years ago.  (“Fnugg” is Norwegian for “snowflake”). And…I don’t know…maybe because it is very light and very different in weight from the tuba…. The music was also inspired by the Australian didgeridoo, and I use the tuba in the way they play the didgeridoo. Another technique in the piece is something called “lip beat”, a technique I myself invented, creating rhythms that do not sound like specific pitch on the instrument; they sound more like a drum or other percussion instruments…a little fun thing I have added to the piece. There is also some inspiration from American fiddle music. (Aaron Copland wrote a piece called “Rodeo”, in which there are some elements from this American fiddle, bluegrass tradition.) Plus, of course, I have incorporated Christian Lindberg’s virtuosic trombone playing into the whole work. It’s going to be great fun to play. I hear from Christian that the NKO is a fabulous orchestra, so I am really looking forward to that.

PH: When it’s not music, what interests you?

ØB: Radio-controlled airplanes: small model airplanes comprising a motor, propeller and receiver; you have a transmitter in your hand, with which you control the ‘plane. This is what I do for relaxation. And of course, being a Norwegian, you don’t get away from skiing, and there is also fishing in the fjords, another of my hobbies.

PH: Øystein Baadsvik, thank you so much for sharing so many aspects of your very unique musical life and career.