Featured Artist: Gideon Freudmann

26 Nov
Gideon Freudmann with cellos

Gideon Freudmann in his studio with a few cellos.

Hometown hero Gideon Freudmann has been teaching with Young Audiences for 11 years (first on the YA roster in Massachusetts then in Connecticut – he still teaches regularly on the east coast – and in Oregon for the last seven year) and blowing up the inter/national circuit with his electric cello compositions and performances. Portlanders can hear (and see) Gideon with The Portland Cello Project (December 13 & 14 – Aladdin Theatre), Caravan Gogh, and as a soloist playing live accompaniment to silent films (December 8 – The General at TaborSpace). Everyone else can catch Gideon on NPR’s All Things Considered, in the soundtrack to Weeds, or on one of his 17 CDs. And for that special little someone in your life, you might consider Gideon’s CD CelloTales (with story teller Leeny Del Seamonds) which won a Parents Choice award in 2005.

What is your art practice outside of teaching?  Composer, Recording artist, performer. As a composer I write mostly for solo electric cello and (acoustic) cello ensembles that bring out the best in traditional and modern music. I perform many of my ensembles with the Portland Cello Project.

In my recordings and live performances I employ electronic technology to create layered textures, pushing the boundaries of traditional cello music. I play the electric cello and use delays, loopers and other “toys” to take the cello well out of the classical realm. Here’s a video of a live solo performance of “Robin Hood Changes His Oil:”

Here is a video of a piece I wrote called, “Denmark”. This short film made made by Two Penguins Productions, won awards at numerous international film festivals:

How does Oregon inspire your art making?  I love nature. The beauty of the mountains, coast and everything in between are an endless source of joy and inspiration for me. Portland in particular is home to a tremendously talented and diverse collection of musicians. There is a sense of community among them and a very supportive environment. Also, all that rain makes it easier to stay indoors and get some work done!

On Stage with “The Moth” at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, February 2012.

What is one of your earliest art memories? When I was seven, I saw a string quartet perform (it was probably Beethoven – or someone from that crowd). The music was transporting and cellist, in particular, was very inspiring. He played with such feeling and passion that it inspired me to take up the instrument.

What’s the best thing about being a Young Audiences teaching artist?   I love the instant feedback that I get from kids. I know immediately if something is working (or isn’t) and I can then make changes as needed. I also love the look in kids’ eyes when they are inspired. I had a similar experience when watching a performer in my school when I was in 3rd grade and it was a pivotal moment in my decision to pursue music. Young Audiences provides opportunities for me to perform for kids as well other settings where I get to play for much older kids (commonly known as adults).

Gideon on-stage at “A Prairie Home Companion” Eugene, OR, June 2012.

Why is art important to kids?  Kids are always looking for ways to express themselves and art is a wonderful outlet for that. It something that can be done individually or with others, it is an opportunity to express a range of emotions including ones that can be difficult to articulate with words. It can be a personal, private experience or something to be shared with others. It’s almost always available and something that can be fed and inspired by the world around us.

What teacher or artist was inspirational to you as a kid?  My first cello teacher, Bruno DiCecco was an extremely kind man and an astounding cellist. When he played the cello it almost seemed like magic and it spurred to to practice and try to recreate some of the things that he did. He was also a phenomenal performer who conveyed confidence and joy from the stage.

What else are you up to?  One of my many non-traditional projects is scoring and performing live soundtracks for silent films. I have a particular fondness for Buster Keaton comedies. Even though his films were made about 90 years ago, Keaton has a way of silently communicating the human condition like nobody else. I think the themes are current and pertinent to modern times but the music is dated., By creating a modern soundtrack, I feel I can make these films feel more timely and even more accessible to modern audiences – audiences that are otherwise not accustomed to silent films.

For more on Gideon – including photos and lots of listening opportunities – check out his website: www.cellobop.com

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