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October 4, 2012 at 8:00 AM

The Cubans are Coming! Part 2

From general arts writer Michael Upchurch, a little extra perspective on the link between Northwest Sinfonietta and the sinfonietta’s soon-to-arrive Cuban guests….illustrating that music is a universal language:

The musical encounters between Northwest Sinfonietta and Orquesta de Cámara Concierto Sur happening in Seattle and around the Sound on Oct. 5-13 aren’t just a general exchange of American and Cuban musical ideas.

They’re also rooted specifically in Northwest Sinfonietta director Christophe Chagnard’s side career as a jazz musician and composer. Chagnard is especially smitten with the gypsy-jazz stylings of guitarist Django Reinhardt, which inspired him to write “Opre Roma!” — a piece for three gypsy-jazz guitars and chamber orchestra, premiered by NWS last fall.

Northwest Sinfonietta brought “Opre Roma!” — a lush, beguiling, eclectic composition — to Cuba in January, with a local Cuban musician taking one of the guitar parts.

“He didn’t know anything about gypsy jazz,” Chagnard said in a recent interview. “Not only that, he played on the classical nylon-string guitar, finger-picking. That’s very very different.”

The Cubans, he says, understood it instantly: “All the things that were really quite difficult –rhythmically, for instance –were no problem. So it made me feel very much at home there musically.”

Chagnard’s own gypsy-jazz rhythms in “Opre Roma!” will get another outing when Northwest Sinfonietta and Orquesta de Cámara Concierto Sur head to Arizona together to perform the piece at the Tempe Arts Center Oct. 15.

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