Saturday, May 14, 2011

Libertango - Colburn Chamber Orchestra

Dear Reader,

I don't want you to read this blog posting, at least not all of it ... yet. First, please use the "click here" link at the end of this paragraph to trigger the video. As soon as the video starts to play, pause it and move the play cursor to the one minute mark. Now restart it and enjoy the performance. When it is done, please return and continue reading. Now, click here.

Now that you have enjoyed today's video of Libertango, can you believe that the arrangement was done by a seventeen year old student, Matthew John Ignacio? I have viewed, at least in part, more than 3,000 YouTube videos of Libertango performances in the past two years and can confidently say that this is one of the best chamber orchestra arrangements of the piece in existence. It is not just the arrangement that makes the video special, it is also the performance. Did you note the left-hand finger snaps used by Ignacio to start the piece? I don't know if this was a conscious tribute to Piazzolla or not but that is exactly the way that Piazzolla would set the beat and trigger the opening for his quintet in rehearsal and, frequently, in performance.

The musicians are from the Colburn School in Los Angeles, California and if you go back and watch that one minute introduction that I asked you to skip, you will learn that Libertango was developed and rehearsed by the Colburn Chamber Orchestra themselves - off of regular rehearsal times. Their performance is flawless - synchronized as if they shared an implanted timing chip - and in perfect balance. Maxim Eshkenazy usually conducts the group but it is apparent here that they are performing without a conductor - something only the best chamber orchestras can do. Colburn School has appeared in this blog once before. It is a remarkable institution and you will see the musicians here in the future on concert stages around the world. Although Colburn's focus is on college level conservatory training, they also provide musical training for children and adults.

I enjoyed Ignacio's creative use of pizzicato in the arrangement, the early syncopation in the theme, the steady habanera rhythm in the bass and the overall feeling of movement throughout the piece. That an arrangement of this sophistication could be done by a seventeen year old student is astonishing. Not that Ignacio is your typical student. At age 14 he was a graduate of Cerritos College. He is a mathematician and in addition to being a cellist and a pianist - in fact, I believe the piano and the computer are his primary instruments. He has a centered view of life which is well stated in the profile he provides on his YouTube channel. Among his many gifts, I believe composing and arranging may be his greatest and I hope he exercises that gift to create music of his own and to arrange more of Piazzolla's works in the future.

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