Q&A With Colin Currie
Colin Currie performs with the CSO Jan 22-23, 2016
Fanfare Cincinnati: You’ve performed with the CSO before. What is special about working with this ensemble?
Colin Currie: The CSO is a fantastic orchestra with a strong and powerfully distinctive sound. Very fulsome and grand in quality, and the musicians are flexible and sensitive as well when needed. I am very excited to bring yet another new piece to work on with them—so far we have played a number of my concertos, and they are always such highly rewarding experiences!
FC: riSE and fLY has received a lot of hype for its unique nature. What are the particular joys and challenges it brings to you as an artist? What kind of influence did you have on the composition process?
CC: riSE and fLY is especially interesting because of the very unusual and physical aspect of the percussion writing. The entire first half of the piece is a phenomenally demanding body-percussion section which builds gradually to a fantastic release of hip-hop- style work on the hands and upper torso. The second half is no less involved as I cut loose on a set of buckets and pan lids in the manner of a street busker/performer. Julia Wolfe decided early on that I had already amassed a fair number of fine pieces using standard percussion, and as well as exploring new avenues she also wanted to gift me a new skill set. That was very kind of her and the results are extremely effective and well-researched. The body percussion was rather tough to get to grips with at first, but I love delivering this piece and sharing its spirited and adventurous qualities with the audience. It is a greatly uplifting piece.
FC: Tell us a little bit about your background. What led you to be a solo percussionist?
CC: I was drum-crazy as a boy and went through all kinds of crazes en route to falling finally for orchestral and classical music as my main love. I have played in pop groups, big bands, played jazz vibes, and freelanced as an orchestral musician. In being a soloist, a lot of that experience still comes to bear, and I relish a collaboration, especially with an ensemble of the quality of the CSO and bringing new pieces like the Wolfe into the world. So far, I have over 25 new concertos written especially for me—all different and all drawing on the wide-ranging appeal of these great instruments.
FC: Do you engage in any sort of physical training (aside from actual musical rehearsal time), given the athletic nature of percussion?
CC: I am a keen runner and enjoy cycling, although living in London limits that somewhat!
FC: What other projects do you have on the horizon?
CC: I have several new concertos planned and some new instrumental collaborations coming to fruition in the near future. I would love to record more of my work, and this is one of my main projects and challenges. My ensemble, the Colin Currie Group is also gaining ground—we have tours planned in China, Japan, Australia and around Europe, too. It’s great to be working with other percussionists of my age—we’re all drummers, love this art form and delight in playing together!