Jherek Bischoff

Liaisons, Sondheim and Baseball

November 23, 2015 by Jherek | Comments Off on Liaisons, Sondheim and Baseball

A couple years ago I was approached by virtuosic pianist Anthony De Mare about a wonderful project called Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim From The Piano. Liaisons is a project celebrating the music of Stephen Sondheim. The enthusiasm of Anthony and his team was extremely inspiring, and what started out as a small celebration turned into a project including 36 composers from all corners of the music world.

I recently received the final CD in the mail and it made me really stop in my tracks. As I stared at the cover, at the ECM New Series logo, I realized a full circle moment in my musical history occurred.

Early on in my musical journey I was extremely in to jazz. I was a deep listener of jazz and focused all of my time on trying to become a jazz musician. Many great jazz records have been put out by ECM, and those records greatly influenced my musicianship. But even more specifically, my (very brief) time at college was spent studying jazz, but one day everything changed. I was walking down a hallway and heard the most incredible music I had ever heard. I stopped in my tracks, walked into the classroom, and walked straight up to the teacher who was in the middle of teaching a classroom full of students! I asked in a fevered pitch: “WHAT IS THIS MUSIC?” The music was Arvo Pärt. I had never listened deeply to classical music – it had just never found its way into my life. At that moment, it entered my life like a ton of bricks. It was everything I wanted from music – drama, space, complexity – it was just incredible. I walked straight out of the classroom to the record shop, bought the record, and quit school the very next week. I wanted to focus on music on my own, and find my own footing in this wild new world!

To see my name on the cover of Liasons with the ECM New Series imprint, along with great Jazz composers like Wynton Marsalis, and Classical music greats like Steve Reich, it totally blew my mind.

Beyond all of this, it is so incredible to be part of a project celebrating such a unique and glorious mind like Sondheim’s! As a teen, I was really into baseball and was pretty good at it believe it or not, but I started to get super deep into music when I was cast in a high school production of West Side Story. I started skipping baseball practice to go to musical practice, and realized I was going to have a lot more fun playing music than baseball. In a roundabout way, Sondheim is partly responsible for my quitting baseball (Thank you, Sondheim!). I certainly would never have made a living from baseball, so it was a good move.

So, what seemed in the beginning to simply be a request to write a new arrangement of a song for some music enthusiasts, ended up bringing back and tying together all of these individual moments from my musical history! Thank you Anthony de Mare, Rachel Colbert and, of course, Stephen Sondheim!

By the way, my arrangement was just premiered in NY at Symphony Space, with Sondheim in attendance! It was reviewed in the NY Times.

For more information about the Liaisons project, check out an interview with me and some of the other composers for the project here and buy your own copy here.

What Do 8 Tubas Sound Like?!?!

November 10, 2015 by Jherek | Comments Off on What Do 8 Tubas Sound Like?!?!

Ahoy Ladies and Gents,
I am home from a wild trip in NY! It was exhausting and wonderful. So much Chinese food…
I had the extreme honor of playing the ribbon cutting ceremony of St Ann’s Warehouse’s new space. They asked for something unusual and fun, so of course the first thing that came to mind was a tuba octet! Here is a video of a rehearsal and big reveal of the space!

I also did arrangements of some tunes by artists that have a shared history with St Ann’s Warehouse. We covered Kate Bush, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Marianne Faithful and Nick Cave, all on tubas with my man Zac Pennington on vocals. It was deep…literally.

Later that week, Zac and I had a performance of our band Crying Music at Le Poisson Rouge. Check out lots of photos and a sweet review on Brooklyn Vegan here.

The following week I performed four nights at BAM with cello virtuoso Maya Beiser for the Next Wave Festival, to critical acclaim from The New York Times.

My time in NY was topped off by a performance of a tune I composed for Brooklyn Youth Chorus. The Performance was with BYC and Kronos Quartet at St Ann’s Warehouse. It was the first time I had heard the piece and it was absolutely thrilling. Here’s an excerpt:

As per usual, as soon as I got home, I hit the ground running! I have since arranged and recorded some new arrangements for Sara Jackson-Holman, written an arrangement of Schubert’s “Die Forelle” for Meow Meow and the San Francisco Symphony, made a new arrangement of “Kule Kule” for Kronos Quartet, and am putting the very final touches on my upcoming record Cistern. Slammin!

Lots more to come very soon! Hope you all are well!

What’s New + Upcoming Shows

February 14, 2015 by Jherek | 0 comments

New Year’s resolution: Update blog more often…
Oy! I have been so busy! I am trying! Haha!

Okay, a little update my friends:

I relocated to Los Angeles and finally have a home! It is wonderful.
Since I spoke to you last, I was in Vienna for a month premiering a musical I scored, Johnny Breitwieser. It is still playing at Schauspielhaus, so if you find yourself heading through that fabulous city, go check it out! Here’s a trailer in German with some snippets of my music:

I went out to Tasmania again, and performed all new arrangements, by yours truly, with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra + Amanda Palmer.
While there, I also worked once again with Neil Gaiman on a live reading of his story, The Sleeper and the Spindle, which I sound-tracked live with a string quartet. It was wild.

A couple of weeks ago, I went into the studio and worked once again with the band Yacht on a song. I did a fun string arrangement for one of their new tunes. It’s going to be rad.

A billion other things too, but I am super excited to be extremely close to finishing up my record Cistern. I am about 2 weeks away from finishing it, I think. I am really happy with how it’s turning out and can’t wait for you to hear it.

I have some performances in the coming months; please come say hi!

FEB 15
I co-curated this event and am performing new work! Info and tickets HERE

FEB 24
I will be performing a set of my own music, with string quartet, clarinet and percussion. Also appearing: Brother, Sister & Tim Carr. Info and tickets HERE

MAR 7 & 9
This is a performance with Robert Forster of the Go-Betweens, Zephyr String Quartet and me on bass. Info and tickets HERE
*I will also be doing a cooking demo while there (!?!)

MAR 23
Featuring a flurry of some of the most talented people on earth, I’ll be performing a song with Amanda Palmer. Info and tickets HERE

There are more gigs in the works and I will be letting y’all know soon!

I hope to see you around!

All the best