A Conversation with Colin Currie
This weekend, the Utah Symphony is excited to welcome back Colin Currie, a solo percussionist from Scotland. He will be playing two pieces (Figment V and Two Controversies and a Conversation) by the famous Elliott Carter; an American composer who never let age define him—Carter was writing music almost until the day of his death. He completed his last work in August of 2012, when he was 103 years old.
Colin spoke to us over the phone about his relationship with Carter, music and the future.
Tell us about your relationship with Elliot Carter and the pieces you will be playing.
I was very lucky to strike up a personal relationship with Elliot Carter in the last years of his life. He died just one month shy of 104 years old. Both of the pieces were written after he turned 100. The concerto was dedicated to me, so I actually have a deep relationship with it. It is a great honor.
What makes these pieces so unique and what are some of your most favorite aspects?
These pieces show how fabulously inquiring and creative Carter’s mind was; it’s fascinating to think of a very old man still being curious in the medium he works in. He had never written for a solo percussionist before; it was a departure from solo piano pieces.
Talk us through your process of becoming aware that you were gifted in percussion. How did you realize you wanted to do this as a profession?
It was a very gradual transition. At first, I was not very focused as a youngster. Things came together in my teenage years when I discovered classical music. My ambition as a soloist increased at that time.
You and Maestro Fischer have a professional relationship. How is that?
Thierry is a wonderful colleague. The music is the only thing that matters when he’s conducting, and he’s perfectly collaborative and open to any suggestions and requests that come from me. He has absolute respect for the music, and in turn, I respect him for that.
What kind of music is on your iPod or iPhone right now? What genres are you inspired by and do you listen to while not ‘at work’?
Classical, there’s far too much good classical music that I still don’t know.
You once said in an interview, that’s posted on your blog, that you advise young musicians to have “no long term goals”. Does this still apply at your level of professional success?
What I meant by that was to be malleable and flexible and to focus on short term goals. Take care of your playing on a weekly basis and a monthly basis. The long term goals will become clear if you take care of the short term goals. That’s the way I built myself up, and it’s the only way I know.
For more information on the performance, go here: https://utahsymphony.org/concerts/889-mahlers-symphony-no-5
For more information on Colin Currie, visit his website: http://www.colincurrie.com/site/