Bolero Berlin – Chamber Music, Philharmonic, and Latin Jazz

Bolero Berlin – Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Last night was another evening of outstanding music in Berlin! Bolero Berlin performed at the Berlin Philharmonic and finding a group of musicians with more charm or talent would be difficult!

Martin Stegner Viola – berliner-philharmoniker.de

After becoming “enchanted and inspired by melancholic, mysterious, sensual Cuban bolero,” violist Martin Stegner created the Bolero Berlin ensemble. The popular group fuses chamber music and philharmonic with Latin American jazz creating their own exceptional sound.

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The “warm, dark, soft sound that characterizes Cuban bolero appeals to the viola player in particular.”

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Esko Laine, Contra-Bass – Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Philharmonic Meets Jazz

Martin Stegner plays viola with the Philharmonic, and Bolero Berlin includes three of his “like-minded orchestral colleagues”:

In addition, the ensemble has two incredible internationally known jazz performers:

Bolero Berlin Solos

Each musician performed solos demonstrating mastery of their instruments. The stunning solos were fully appreciated by the audience.

Preis’s mastery of his four instruments is amazing. Stegner’s bolero takes your heart and mind on a Latin vacation. Esko Laine’s solo during a composition inspired by Duke Ellington blew the audience away, and it was a delight watching Gioia flawlessly play a myriad of exotic Latin percussion instruments.

Daniel “Topo” Gioia, Percussion – m.mainpost.de

During an encore, guitarist Nieberle surprised the audience by playing a gorgeous ukulele solo – evoking big sounds from the instrument. Raphael Haeger held everything together with his impeccable piano skills and accompanied Gioia on drums during a Latin percussion tambourine solo.

Bolero Berlin – iTunes

In addition to their distinguished careers as musicians, Bolero Berlin members are also composers and teachers. They perform with other artists and have won many awards.

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“We look forward to every concert and have a relaxed, respectful approach. Nothing has changed in ten years.”   Martin Stegner Bolero Berlin

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Raphael Haeger, Piano and Drums – Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

The group’s goal is “surprising listeners with familiar melodies in an unfamiliar sound”. Because jazz and classical are so different, in the beginning some wondered if the concept would work.

Bolero Berlin – © 2018 Hagke. Music Management

Clearly the music does work, and their audiences love them! The concert last night celebrates their 10th anniversary performing together. They’ve perfected Latin American music in philharmonic sound while complimenting each other superbly.

Bolero Berlin – Photo Alba Falchi

For their anniversary program, Helmut Nieberle arranged music combining tracks from Consuelo Velázquez’s Besamé Mucho, Django Reinhardt’s Troublant Boléro, Duke Ellington, and tango master Astor Piazzolla with operatic melodies from Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto and Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser. The result was absolute heaven!

Manfred Preis, Clarinet and Saxophone – Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

I regret not being able to understand Stegner’s German narrative which amused the audience and created laughter. The program was in German, but the compositions played were originals inspired by contemporary and classical artists and composers.

I especially liked their tango music and reminisced about a Piazzolla Tango Performance in Buenos Aires several years ago. The evening featured the traditional songs of Astor Piazzolla, the world’s foremost tango music composer.

Helmut Nieberle, Guitar © Arvo Wichmann

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“Classical concert organizers don’t dare offer jazz sounds to their audience, while jazz organizers doubt whether philharmonic musicians get the right groove for jazz and Latin American music.”

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Bolero Berlin’s performance was a memorable evening! You must hear them in person to appreciate their talent and incredible sound. After rousing applause and two amazing encores, the audience still didn’t want to let them go!

Piazzolla Tango Performance

Piazzolla Tango Performance

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla

Last night I attended a tango performance in Galería Güemes, a restored Belle Époque building in Buenos Aires. The Art Noveau design is gorgeous and the building has a gallery, apartments, offices, and restaurants as well as the tango theater and cabaret.

Galleria Güemes

Galleria Güemes

The Four Seasons of Tango by Piazzolla Tango was performed in the Galeria’s underground theater. The performance featured the traditional songs of Astor Piazzolla, the world’s foremost composer of Tango music.

Tango Dancers

Tango Dancers

The Argentine version of tango requires great physical strength. The power and energy of the wonderful dancers was impressive! The show lasted two hours with amazing music, dancing, and singing.

The performance included twenty vignettes accompanied by musicians – two bandoneons, two violins, a bass, and a piano. In between tangos, singers performed solos and passionate duets. Each tango was unique with spectacular costumes and lighting.

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla

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Galleria Güemes

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla was born in 1921 in Argentina. When he was a boy his family moved to New York City where Astor’s father gave him a bandoneón (similar to an accordion). He took lessons and became a virtuoso.

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla

In New York Astor met Argentine actor and singer Carlos Gardel, famous for his tango ballads. Gardel became a close family friend. He hired Astor as a translator and encouraged him to become an actor.

Astor made a short appearance in one of Gardel’s tango movies – El Día Que Me Quieras (The Day You Love Me). The small part introduced him to classical Tango and the many ways of expressing tango. Astor became the bandoneonist and composer who changed tango music forever by incorporating elements from jazz and classical music.

Galleria Güemes

Galleria Güemes

Piazzolla’s family returned to Argentina in 1936. Astor started playing in bands and joined several famous orchestras. He continued producing experimental compositions through the 40s and 50s. During the 60s through the 90s he perfected his controversial style and performed all over the world. In June 1983, Piazzolla proudly played a program dedicated to his music at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

Carlos Gardel

The extraordinary performance last night inspired me to take a few tango lessons before leaving Buenos Aires. It will be a fun experience. During the time here I’ve seen the presence of tango everywhere. Buenos Aires and tango are inseparable – exciting city, exciting dance.

Since the performance ended late I decided to take a taxi and not ride the subway. At night the city lights in Buenos Aires are magic. It was a lovely ride home!

Tango Dancers

Tango Dancers