No orchestra man

Sweden-based Elias Faingersh insists on playing trombone solo, connecting with his crowd as he blows

Elias Faingersh 88 224 (photo credit: )
Elias Faingersh 88 224
(photo credit: )
Elias Faingersh, an internationally acclaimed Swedish musician of Russian/Jewish origin, smiles and says he is "the only trombone player who performs solo recitals in front of twenty thousand people." Faingersh, 40, is in Israel to give a concert at Hateiva, a tiny and prestigious Jaffa venue for contemporary and classical music. Born in Moscow, Faingersh started studying music in the Soviet capital, but left not long before graduating from the music college. "In Sweden, I was immediately accepted to the conservatory and I stayed. In those days, it was more important where you were coming from than where you were going. I liked the country, which has served as my base for 20 years now," says Faingersh, speaking about his emigration from the Soviet Union. He later graduated from the Manhattan School of music in New York and spent a few years in the city, "freelancing and playing jazz in clubs, despite...purely classical schooling." Over the years, Elias Faingersh has developed his individual style. "On my return to Sweden, I needed work, and I knew that being a regular orchestra trombone player was not what I was built for." His first job was for a theater drama ensemble: He was writing and then playing music for the shows. "I tried to develop my music that way so it would be understandable, and it just continued from there." NOWADAYS, HAVING written music for more than 30 theater productions and many TV and radio shows, Faingersh is one of the most sought-after theater composers in Scandinavia. In recitals, Faingersh plays mostly his own music, with the exception of Ravel's Bolero "and some Baroque stuff, but also by my own interpretation, which is rather free." Faingersh's performance includes the use of live electronics. It started when he played solo at a huge outdoor concert without amplifiers. "I remember that I played pretty well, but only about 100 people in the front row could hear me, and the other 19,000 listeners were lost; after all, a trombone is quite small." He decided that he needed something to make the sound more powerful, but that would still allow him to play alone. "As a musician, I am not interested in pre-recorded stuff, so I started using loop machines and effect processors. As a result, everything that happens onstage when I play is live, and as soon as the piece is finished, it is completely erased; when I start a new piece, I start everything from the beginning. The recording of the music is always a part of the piece, it gradually develops during the piece." A born performer, Faingersh says he loves what transpires between the artist onstage and the audience. "I love trombone and I love music. I want people in the concert hall to feel something, I want to really connect with them - not to be too exclusive, nor too cheap and populist. I also do not think that people should be prepared for me, but rather, I have to be prepared for them. I see music as the most communicative art, and today people really appreciate when you take them seriously." Elias Faingersh plays tonight at Hateiva in Jaffa. The concert starts at 9:00 p.m. For reservations: (03) 682-2403