Shai Wosner at SubCulture

The one word that came to mind most frequently while watching Shai Wosner perform a mostly Schubert program at New York's newest music venue was "patience." Wosner exhibits a patience of playing that demands a patience of listening. There is nothing more mesmerizing than a well-timed fermata, and Wosner practices these pauses to such a degree that the entire audience was transfixed throughout the recital.

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Backstage with Fanfare Ciocărlia

This interview with trumpet player Costica "Cimai" Trifan of Fanfare Ciocărlia, a Gypsy brass band from Romania, originally appeared on the Stern Grove Festival website as part of a series of artist interviews. 

What does a typical Fanfare Ciocărlia rehearsal look like?

A typical rehearsal starts with a tasty local brandy. Then we go step by step through our repertoire, perfect a few things here and there, and sometimes we change a few solos. If a musician comes up with an idea for a new title, he whistles the melody and together we develop the piece further. The gentlemen at the tubas work on the bass- and rhythm-line, the trumpets search for the perfect riffs, and the percussionists for the right groove. All in all, with pure and well-organized teamwork, we are far away from the typical brass band hierarchy of having a bandleader and boss and some slaves… We all grew up together and we have known each other since childhood. Each one of us has his own valuable talent, and together, we are the complete puzzle!

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Backstage with Magik*Magik Orchestra

This interview with Minna Choi, artistic director of Magik*Magik Orchestra, originally appeared on the Stern Grove Festival website as part of a series of artist interviews.

Magik*Magik is a rather protean ensemble; the personnel changes according to the needs of the project. That said, who is Magik*Magik, and what does it mean to be a Magik player?

As Magik's director, I choreograph each performance project we take on, whether it's composing, casting or conducting. In that way, Magik functions more like a dance company than a traditional orchestra. Each project requires a different cast of players and newly composed arrangements (depending on our collaborator), and Magik brings the different pieces together. Because of this, Magik players need to be very versatile stylistically and able to communicate well with me and with our principal players. A Magik player has a very high level of classical technical proficiency (they have to be almost perfect sight readers), but also possesses a casual and amiable personality and are able to get along with all different types of artists.

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Backstage with Geographer

This interview with singer/songwriter Michael Deni of Geographer, an indie rock trio from San Francisco, originally appeared on the Stern Grove Festival website as part of a series of artist interviews.

On singles such as "Kites" and "Life of Crime", Geographer's sound is very synth-driven. For their Stern Grove Festival appearance, the trio switches gears, performing an entirely acoustic set. Does this mean acoustic adaptations of electronic music, or music composed for acoustic instruments?

We're doing a little of both. A lot of the songs begin their lives on an acoustic guitar or piano. Most of them grow into a fully arranged and often electronic piece of music, but some of them feel like they don't need to change, and they stay relatively simple, acoustic songs. We haven't felt that any of those fit really into any of our recent albums, so they just sort of sit on a shelf. But we all really like them, largely because they are so refreshing. Often times I'll listen exclusively to that kind of music—Paul Simon, James Taylor, Neil Young—and the Stern Grove Festival performance is giving us a unique opportunity to bring those songs out from hiding, and the addition of the Magik*Magik Quartet arrangements fills in the gaps in a way that we really wouldn't on our own. The other side of the coin is taking a song like Verona or Kites and letting Minna [Choi, Magik*Magik’s director] re-imagine it for us. We just had our first rehearsal, and it was hard to keep playing the songs, because I was so excited at what I was hearing, and I was hearing it for the first time.

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Interview with David Harrington

My article, "The Sound of San Francisco: Stern Grove Festival and Kronos Quartet," which was published in the 76th Season Grove Notes is based on this interview, conducted in Kronos Quartet's studio in June. 

Copyright Stern Grove Festival Association, 2013