Beaming with stars from the ensembles of Latin legends Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Paquito D’Rivera, and Eddie Palmieri, Chris Wasburne and the SYOTOS Band kick off our very first Neighborhood Concert of the season on September 19 at the South Bronx NeON. We sat down with Washburne to hear the inspirational story behind his music, his love of Bronx audiences, and his community work as part of Musical Connections, a program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. We even learn what Washburne has in common with Shakespeare!
What does “SYOTOS” mean, and what is the story behind the band’s origin?
CW: “SYOTOS” is an acronym for “See you on the other side.” I coined the term back in 1992 in the midst of a severe health crisis: I was diagnosed with a deadly form of skin cancer, and was told that after surgery I would never be able to play the trombone again. On the last gig before surgery, the phrase “SYOTOS” appeared before my eyes in the middle of a solo because I knew that after surgery, I’d be on the other side of my musical career, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to survive the bout with cancer. I have called the band “SYOTOS” ever since then, to always remind myself of that experience, and as a tribute to survival. Most of the members of SYOTOS have been with me since 1992. What’s interesting is that SYOTOS now appears in Urban Dictionary, and is a term that is used not only in the military, but also by a lot of online gamers. I guess I feel a little like Shakespeare, inventing a new word.
You’ve performed with an impressive range of Latin legends, including Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, and Paquito D’Rivera. What drew you to the Latin jazz scene and who are some of your greatest musical influences?
CW: I was first introduced to the Latin jazz scene while I was a student at the New England Conservatory in Boston. I began playing with a wide array of Latin bands, and it was really love at first hearing. I found the rhythms infectious and they really resonated with my soul. I immediately started to study the history of Latin jazz as seriously as I had studied the history of jazz and classical music, but as soon as I discovered the recordings of Eddie Palmieri and his trombonist Barry Rogers, I knew that is what I wanted to do in my professional musical career. When I moved to New York after all of that preparation and study, and with a little luck, I found it rather easy to be welcomed into the Latin jazz scene, and I got a lot of great opportunities quickly. Within one year of moving to New York, I was already playing with Celia Cruz and Tito Puente.
How did your experiences performing with these artists influence SYOTOS and the work you are currently doing?
CW: Sharing the stage with those Latin legends was the best part of my musical education, and fundamental to how I developed as a musician. SYOTOS grew out of that experience and their bandstands, because the group’s members are all musicians that play regularly with these top Latin bands, and who, like me, shared an affinity for small-group improvisational settings.
What is your relationship to the Latin music scene in the Bronx?
CW: Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Bronx was a central location for Latin music performance in New York. I literally played in the Bronx every week for about 20 years straight. The best club in the Bronx was Side Street. We spent many nights there with some of the greatest musicians in salsa. I played my first gig with Tito Nieves at Side Street. I still play in the Bronx on occasion, often appearing at Lehman College, as well as a number of outdoor park concerts. The Bronx crowds are always some of the best audiences in all of New York—they really get this music.
Your upcoming Neighborhood Concert at the South Bronx NeON is located right near Yankee Stadium. Are you a baseball fan?
CW: I grew up going to Yankees games with my father several games a season. He was a big fan, and so therefore I was, too.
The concert is also the launch of a Musical Connections songwriting project that you’re leading. Tell us a little bit about your upcoming involvement in Musical Connections and the project itself.
CW: Music Connections is a very exciting program to be a part of. It gives me a chance to really collaborate with some very creative young people. We get a chance to share in their musical world and also to share our musical world with them. Most of the participants have had little or no musical training, but within a short period of time (three months), I can guarantee that we will produce a concert of some really compelling music. This year’s focus is on the sacred music of Duke Ellington. Duke Ellington was such an important force in African American musical expression and central to the development of popular music. I am hoping these young people will take inspiration from his innovative musical expressions and incorporate them in their own compositions. He has so many important messages to offer the youth of today, including the importance of self-expression, high self-esteem, and living with elegance.
In addition to writing songs with participants at the South Bronx NeON, will you be working on new material for the band, as well? Can fans expect a follow up to your last album Fields of Moons?
CW: It is always inspirational to work with young songwriters, and indeed, often spawns new musical ideas in my own compositional process. SYOTOS is heading into the studio in January to record a new album, and I must admit that many of the new compositions have grown out of our work with songwriting groups over the last few years. I feel my compositional process has been profoundly changed for the better working with so many young composers.
In preparation for Carnegie Hall's 2013–2014 Opening Night Gala on October 2, we invite you to go Beyond the Baton with The Philadelphia Orchestra's Music Director and Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. We'll continue to share selections from The Philadelphia Orchestra's fun and insightful Q&A series, and we encourage you to explore the rest at philorch.org/blog.
What would you do on an unexpected night off?
I'm still trying to get a real night off to go and see a show on Broadway. I have never seen a Broadway musical, and I would really like to have that experience.
Do you have a favorite movie?
The greatest movie I've ever seen, and my favorite, is Dancer in the Dark by Lars von Treir, starring Björk.
Have you ever injured yourself conducting?
I wasn't conducting yet but was just waiting to go out to the podium for a rehearsal of the Orchestre Métropolitain. I was holding my baton upright and I moved my arm suddenly and the baton jerked upward and went inside my nostril! My nose started bleeding and I was so embarrassed!
If a movie was made of your life, who would you want to play you?
A young Michael J. Fox
Who are your favorite writers?
Oscar Wilde and Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Prize–winning poet and philosopher. His writing is very beautiful and I feel when reading it both a passion and an acceptance of the world.
Check back for more from Beyond the Baton, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo of Yannick Nézet-Séguin by Jessica Griffin.
Experience the magic of Carnegie Hall as a family by joining us for another great season of Family Concerts. Extraordinary artists perform classical, jazz, world, and popular music in the legendary Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage and the more intimate, contemporary Zankel Hall. Enjoy imaginative, captivating, and interactive musical experiences that create lasting memories for you and your children.
Tickets on sale now ($10 and up)!
Brooklyn Youth ChorusBritten’s Young VoicesSunday, November 17 at 1 PMZankel Hall
The New York PopsA Charlie Brown ChristmasSaturday, December 21 at 2 PMStern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Bang on a Can All-StarsSaturday, February 1 at 1 PMZankel Hall
Regina Carter's Reverse ThreadSaturday, March 8 at 1 PMZankel Hall
Natalie MerchantSaturday, April 26 at 3 PMStern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
WATCH | LISTEN: John Lennon and Paul McCartney's beloved song "In My Life", that first appeared on the Beatles 1965 album Rubber Soul, completes our Intermission: Summer Video Series performed by Ensemble ACJW in an arrangement by Hamilton Berry.
Learn more about Ensemble ACJW, and browse a list of their upcoming concerts at acjw.org.
Each season, using personal, behind-the-scenes videos and written updates, we follow artists as they showcase the journey and experience of making a Carnegie Hall debut. This season we'll follow Grammy-nominated mandolinist Avi Avital in preparation for his solo debut on Friday, January 17, 2014.
As a preview of the excitement ahead, watch Sinfini Music's first ever live Sinfini Session, featuring Avi alongside accordian virtuoso Martynas for an impromptu performance of Czardas by Vittorio Monti.
Visit carnegiehall.org/debut for updates throughout the coming months.
We know all kids are creative little beings, ripe
for engaging activities of all kinds. That’s why we offer free Carnegie Kids
concerts—a perfect way for children to express the natural musicians that they
are. You and your kids can clap, tap, stomp, and sing along to some of the best
music in town in all five boroughs. All concerts are 45-minutes and designed
for kids ages 3 to 6—and completely free!
Mark your calendars now!
Elena Moon Park and
Friends Elena Moon Park
and Friends perform folk and children’s music from East Asia in a new way,
bringing a fresh style to each song.
Sunday, February 16 at 2 PMBronx Library Center
Saturday, April 5 at 1 PMBrooklyn Public
Library, Central Library
Sunday, May 4 at 1 PMFlushing Town Hall
Hot Peas ’N Butter Hot Peas ’N Butter
will lift your children out of their seats and have them happily singing and
bouncing along to its catchy brand of bilingual Latin folk.
Wednesday, October 16 at 10 and 11:30 AMLaGuardia
Performing Arts Center at LaGuardia Community College
These events are designed for school groups only.
Thursday, January 23 at 4 PMSouth Bronx NeON
Sunday, April 6 at 2 PMSnug Harbor Cultural
Center & Botanical Garden
The Itty Biddies
Itty Biddies charm kids and adults with their cool, clubby roots and silky
Friday, October 4 at 10:30 AMHudson Guild
Tuesday, February 4 at 10 and 11:30 AMLaGuardia
Performing Arts Center at LaGuardia Community College
events are designed for school groups only.
Thursday, April 3 at 4 PMSouth Bronx NeON
Rani Arbo &
daisy mayhemWith their smooth four-part
vocal harmonies and colorful mix of fiddle, guitar, bass, and percussion, Rani
Arbo & daisy mayhem’s style of downhome music grabs you.
Wednesday, April 9 at 10 and 11:30 AMLaGuardia
Performing Arts Center at LaGuardia Community College
Sunday, May 18 at 2 PMBronx Library
Wednesday, June 11 at 10:30 AMHudson Guild
Shine and the
MoonbeamsLed by Shawana
Kemp, five-time winner of Amateur Nights at the legendary Apollo Theater, Shine
and the Moonbeams sing R&B music about subjects kids can relate to.
Saturday, May 17 at 2 PMWeeksville Heritage
Thursday, June 5 at 10:30 AMBrooklyn Public
Library, Central Library
Romanian folk musicians Taraf de Haïdouks, who take their name from a Robin Hood-like band of thieves referenced in many of their songs, are known for energetically infectious performances in the tradition of the "lautari" gypsies of Romania. Our Intermission: Summer Video Series continues with Yves Dharamraj's arrangement of Taraf de Haïdouks's Turcaeska, performed by Ensemble ACJW at (Le) Poisson Rouge on June 10, 2012.
Learn more about Ensemble ACJW.
Your exclusive preview of previously unreleased recordings from Vladimir Horowitz Live at Carnegie Hall continues through Monday, September 30, when the limited-edition box set becomes available on Sony Classical. This week's streaming track is the Allegro molto movement from Rachmaninoff's Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 36, recorded on November 24, 1968.
Vladimir Horowitz Live at Carnegie Hall, a comprehensive collection of live recordings from the legendary pianist’s Carnegie Hall performances between 1943 and 1978, includes seven previously unreleased recitals, plus the first ever DVD release of Horowitz on Television—the famous TV concert that hasn’t been seen since its last airing on CBS in 1968. The limited-edition set includes a 180-page hardcover book with an introduction by Jed Distler that profiles Horowitz and his special relationship with Carnegie Hall. Pre-order Vladimir Horowitz Live at Carnegie Hall from Amazon.com.
Horowitz accurately claimed that he never played a piece the same way twice. His recorded performances of the same work contain subtle variations of tempo, rubato, dynamics, nuances, color, shadings, and pedal effects, which are particularly evident when comparing identical programs performed in close succession (albeit with different encores) as he did on November 24 and December 15, 1968.
Listen to this week’s exclusive streaming track: Horowitz's recording of the Allegro molto movement from Rachmaninoff's Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 36—a previously unreleased recording from November 24, 1968.
RACHMANINOFF Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 36 - III. Allegro moltoVladimir Horowitz, Piano
(Recorded at Carnegie Hall on November 24, 1968)
Visit carnegiehall.org/blog next week for another exclusive track from Vladimir Horowitz Live at Carnegie Hall, or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
In the spring of 2011, pianist Jeremy Denk gave two commanding performances of J. S. Bach's Goldberg Variations at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Denk's new recording of the exquisite works will be released September 30 on the Nonesuch label, accompanied by a DVD of video "liner notes" recorded by the artist. Below is an excerpt in which Mr. Denk explains Bach's great expertise in the composition of musical "curlicues, eddies, and whirlpools."
Don't miss Jeremy Denk's performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major with the San Francisco Symphony on November 13.
Jeremy Denk discusses the "streams and eddies" of Bach's Goldberg Variations in this excerpt from the DVD video "liner notes" to his recording of the work, out on Nonesuch September 30, 2013.
"Berkeley Rep scrutinized InstantEncore and the competition. We opted for IE and have no regrets. Designing our mobile site and app was affordable, collaborative, and on-time. We launched both, and we love them. We can’t wait to see what they do for the Theatre."