Monday, February 9, 2009

Music Monday: An Interview with Jeanine Krause (Part One)

Happy Music Monday!  

Travel and music go together so very well.  And many musicians spend significant parts of the year on the road.  Today I am delighted to bring you Part One of my interview with Baroque Oboist and constant traveller, Jeanine Krause.  Jeanine lives just outside of Frankfurt, Germany, but she will be in the US for the next few weeks on tour with her ensemble, the Sprightly Companions .  

Today, questions about Jeanine's musical life...

AKN:  Tell me about how you became a professional musician.

JK:  I was always a musician but it took a long time and a creative mother to figure it out. Mom tried everything with me: ballet, gymnastics, pottery, I even had organ lessons for a while but the teacher died before I got very far. 
We relocated frequently when I was a kid. My aunt must have taken pity on me when we were camped out in a hotel during my forth relocation. I was eight years old. She gave me a plastic recorder and a book with a few songs and a fingering chart. It wasn’t like you TOLD anyone you play the recorder, though. 
And later in ninth grade after my sixth move I wanted to join the school band. I’m sure I was too embarrassed to tell the band director about my hours of happiness with that little plastic recorder. All the other kids had played their band instruments since the fifth grade so the band director was skeptical. She wouldn’t let me play the flute, however she needed an oboe. That was the beginning of my musical identity.
AKN:  How did you end up playing the Baroque oboe?

JK:  I arrived at the Baroque oboe almost in similar fashion. After I moved to Germany (move number 10) I found this ex-cab-driving, Jewish-American oboist named Matthew Peaceman from New York but then living in Mainz, Germany. I went to his house and played for him. “I know why you are here. If you learn the Baroque oboe, I can help you get work.” I did and he did. But he died this past Fall after a terrible illness at age 52. On this tour I am happy to be playing some pieces he really loved. By the way, I still play lots of recorder and I love it.

AKN:  Why are you attracted to historical instruments?

JK:  It probably started with that little plastic soprano recorder. There’s something wonderfully pleasing about having your fingers right on the instrument: no keys, just this vibrating column of air which tickles the pads of my fingers. My oboes are made of wood, one is covered in leather. I love the smell and feel of the instruments. 
They are also under less tension than the modern instruments. We play lower than modern instruments. When we play an A it will sound an A-flat to someone with perfect pitch. This means strings of the violins are looser, the reeds of the oboes are wider. There is just more room for flexibility. 
And I love the mixing possibilities of the tone qualities: if JS Bach writes a line with the oboe and flute playing in unison, you should not hear flute and oboe, you should hear floboe. The color combinations of the instruments in the orchestra are multiplied. Obiolin, viola da trumpeto, celloon, recordoboe, violute. In my opinion, the quintessential instrument is the human voice. I can’t sing very well but the oboe allows me to express myself the way I would if I could sing.

To be continued on Wednesday... 
Do you have questions for Jeanine?  If so, post them below!  She'll do her best to answer them for you.
The Sprightly Companions (featuring musicians Jeanine Krause, Rachel Cama-Lekx, and Hsuan-Wen Chen) begins their Force of Eloquence tour on Friday, February 13 in Nashua, Hew Hampshire.  They will appear in cities up and down the East Coast this month.  For more information about The Sprightly Companions and for concert dates and times visit their website .  

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