Oh Oystein!

Paul Karner

Last week the conservatory hosted a rather unusual performer. The students in attendance at Harper Hall on Wednesday were treated to the curiously beautiful sounds of world-renowned tubist Oystein Baadsvik.For most of us, solo tuba music is not taking up much space in our iTunes folder. Baadsvik is one of the few solo tuba players to have ever made a career of it, let alone receive international acclaim.

Baadsvik’s childhood consisted of little more than hard work and an unwavering dedication to his music. He began his musical career at the age of 10 as a young euphonium player in Norway, switching to tuba when he was 15. At 18 he won the Norwegian national solo competition, and as a student in Norway, and later Sweden, he played with many prominent orchestras. After playing for two years in the Norrk”pling Symphony Orchestra in Sweden, Oystein decided he was fed up with belting out bass lines from the back row and that he was by nature a soloist.

However, since solo tubist is not in most local job listings, this decision basically meant that Baadsvik would spend the next two years relentlessly practicing, earning very little money. However, after winning two prizes at the renowned Concours International d’Excution Musicale in Geneva, he had enough money to record his first solo CD. This recording, after receiving wonderful reviews worldwide, launched his name onto the international music scene.

Today, Baadsvik has become one of the world’s greatest tuba players. He has premiered more than 30 works from composers around the world, invented and developed new extended techniques for the instrument, and has even accompanied such big name musicians as Chick Corea and James Brown Jr. He has even signed a five-record contract with the BIS record label, and the first record, “Tuba Carnival,” sold out within six days of its first printing. Who knows, perhaps the world is ready for something besides the violin concerti and piano sonatas that seem to rule in concert halls around the world. If so, it’s men like Oystein Baadsvik that will make sure we have something refreshingly new and different to turn to.