By Ruby Siefken
For The Diamondback
World renowned Norwegian tuba soloist Øystein Baadsvik descended into the audience to playfully serenade a spectator during his performance at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Wednesday.
Brass players, classical music buffs and humor lovers alike united to watch Baadsvik make his setlist come to life through quips and antics throughout the show.
When creating his music, Baadsvik focuses on ensuring his passion will shine through to the audience.
“If the music affects you, then chances are that it affects the audience,” he said.
Baadsvik has earned a plethora of awards in about 40 years of playing. He has been voted one of the top 10 brass players in history by Classic FM listeners. He is currently completing a month long tour of schools and universities across the United States.
Audience member and music graduate student Trey Pope is pursuing a degree in tuba performance at the University of Maryland and had been eager for an opportunity to see Baadsvik perform for years.
“I’ve heard about the fun he has onstage and how he’s developed this extremely prolific solo career from playing tuba,” Pope said.
Pope made the most of his experience, shaking Baadsvik’s hand and snapping pictures with the musician after the show.
Musical arts doctoral student Theresa Bickler, another audience member, said she gained musical inspiration from Baadsvik’s performance.
“When you listen to it, it kind of gives you a drive to want to go and practice and perfect what you’re working on,” Bickler said.
Baadsvik’s setlist boasted a diverse combination of self-composed pieces, collaborative works with his wife, Anna Baadsvik and classic tuba pieces from famous international composers.
Between arrangements, the performer made comments about the process of instrumental composition, credited other composers for their work and cracked puns about song titles and audience remarks.
The third piece Baadsvik performed, titled “Echoes,” holds unique significance to him because it is one of his solo compositions. Before performing the piece, Baadsvik described his creative process in writing the piece. He recalled walking in a Stockholm park in the 1990s when a chorus strung together in his mind. About 20 years later, he finally wrote it down and brought the melody to “Echoes” to life, he told the audience.
“Echoes” is currently Baadsvik’s favorite piece of music, he said.
In addition to Baadsvik and his nearly four-foot silver tuba, Wednesday’s show featured an accompanying pianist.
“It’s like dancing two and two,” Baadsvik said, describing the ease of shifting tempo while accompanied by a piano. “You can come up with spontaneous ideas there and then, and that’s not possible with an orchestra.”
After finishing his fifth and final piece of the evening, Baadsvik left the stage with a bow. But, he quickly returned, tuba in hand, to perform a surprise song for audience members. He cantered across the stage, blew kisses to the audience and fell to his knees as his notes grew deeper, sending laughs throughout the crowd.
“Music that is profound yet humoristic,” Baadsvik said, “That’s what I look for.”
Despite Baadsvik’s international fame and countless performances, he said he still has new things to learn. He said part of his key to success is always searching for a better or easier way to do things.
Pope said he admires Baadsvik’s thirst for learning and strives to replicate it.
“That is the kind of tuba player that I want to be and the kind of performer that I want to be,” Pope said.