Mark Kashper of the LA Philharmonic Talks Trey
Mark Kashper joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in May of 1978, just months after emigrating as a refugee from Russia to the United States. Acting as the orchestra’s Associate Principal Second Violin since 1986, Kashper has won high praise for his performances and dedication to his craft. Earlier this month, Kaspher widened his horizons when he joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a performance with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio. The esteemed violinist was kind enough to share his thoughts on the performance with Relix.
On Peforming with Trey Anastasio
Our orchestra—Los Angeles Philharmonic—has performed with many non-classical musicians over the years. We do that every summer in our outdoor home at the Hollywood Bowl and sometimes (but very rarely) during indoor season as well. So, we are familiar with typical audience response at such concerts which is certainly quite different from the behavior of our usual “classical” crowds. We know that clapping during a piece is normal in jazz after extended solos and therefore it is also sometimes inevitable in rock music as well. In classical music, it is of course absolutely inappropriate but, believe it or not, it does happen occasionally when some novices in the audience think that a piece is over when in fact it is not. A good example is Carl Maria von Weber’s “Invitation to the Dance” where a number of people always applaud BEFORE the concluding part of the piece.
Electric guitar is not a novelty for us either. In addition to encountering it in our non-classical programs, we also occasionally see it in new pieces written by “serious” composers, such as, for example, John Adams whose music we play often and who sometimes uses synthesizers and other amplified instruments in his works.
What struck me the most on this particular concert was the contrast between calm, quiet, restrained, meditative nature of the music (and the musician) and the boisterous reception and reaction of his audience. The roar of the crowd when he just appeared on stage and at the beginning of familiar tunes was almost deafening. However, for 99% of the time during the music itself, all those nearly 2400 people filling every single seat in the Walt Disney Concert Hall were perfectly quiet and attentive—so, that was very nice for us to experience. The notable exception was “Stash,” during which there was rhythmic clapping by about 4800 happy hands—but only in those appropriate spots where it filled the music’s rests with admirable precision—and sing-along episodes, in perfect sync with the “second theme” of the main tune. One could hear all that in the video and see how Trey enjoyed it.
My son Daniel introduced me to Phish’s music in late 1990s, so I have heard several of their recordings and liked quite a few of the tracks. Their harmonic language is much richer than that of typical rock groups and the structure of the pieces—especially longer ones with extended instrumental sections—is very similar to “classical” ways of building a piece. Melodic inventiveness is impressive and musical themes are actually being DEVELOPED which is an extremely rare feature in “popular” music. The rhythms are also more varied than those in average rock compositions.
Comparing Trey to Classical Composers
One question I can’t answer specifically is about which classical composer this music reminds me of. No single name comes to my mind, but that may be a good thing actually because the reason for it is—at least partly—that this music is not derivative but in fact original and it speaks in its own distinctive voice.
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The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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