Thursday, March 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Oleg and Pierre

Oleg Bryjak, center
A quick throwback Thursday post on two fronts. Firstly, remembering the bass-baritone, Oleg Bryjak, who was among the 150 passengers on the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday.  I had the chance to sing with Oleg back in 2010 during a production of Rossini's L'Italiana in Algieri at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein.  Oleg was a wonderful colleague - smart, funny, and an incredibly strong singer with an impressively agile and powerful voice, he was truly fearless on stage. All of the news about this Germanwings plane is more disturbing and upsetting with each update, it's hard to digest and leaves me bewildered, shocked, and just sad.

The above picture from the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in 2010 is a great testament to Oleg's amazing and uplifting stage presence. I hope he is resting in peace.

Secondly, and on a more uplifting note, another fearless musician, Pierre Boulez, celebrates his 90th birthday today.  On a day when so many horrifying revelations are coming to light about how so many people's lives were prematurely cut short on Tuesday, it only feels that much more poignant to celebrate the 90th birthday of this great man.  

I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Maestro Boulez - we performed some Stravinsky together with the Chicago Symphony in both Chicago and at Carnegie Hall a few years back. It was a monumentally inspiring week of music-making for me, and an experience I will always treasure. Because it was such a special  week, I feel lucky that it's documented so beautifully on recording.  NPR has a fantastic birthday tribute to him here.  As the ever-insightful David Robertson says about him at the end of the piece: "There are relatively few people who have this impact on the world, and Pierre is definitely up there among the major personalities of the 20th and 21st centuries."  I couldn't agree more.  Happy Birthday, Maestro.

Pierre Boulez