If you go
What: Orloff/Walz Duo
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: First United Methodist Church, 680 NW Bond St., Bend
Cost: $40, $10 students and children
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-306-3988
Something cool happens when two musicians play together for more than 40 years.
In fact, cellist John Walz of the Orloff/Walz Duo brings to mind Spock’s Vulcan Mind-Meld from “Star Trek” when he speaks of his long collaboration with pianist Edith Orloff.
“I just think it’s exciting for an audience to hear musicians perform when, after so many decades, their minds are just sort of melded into one unit,” he said, eliciting a laugh from Orloff as the two spoke from Walz’s Southern California home Monday. The two will perform twice this weekend at First United Methodist Church as part of High Desert Chamber Music’s ongoing season.
“We met as musicians through a person who is now my husband,” Orloff said, referring to clarinetist David Peck. Walz met Peck at Idyllwild Arts Academy in California in 1968, long enough ago that the original “Star Trek” was still airing new episodes.
A few years later, “I (went) to his house, and he and Edie were rehearsing. I think I met Edie in 1972, and then we started playing together in 1973,” Walz said. “We founded the (Pacific Trio) in 1979.”
The trio, which includes violinist Roger Wilkie, has taken them to Europe and Lincoln Center in New York.
“Before that, we were playing all that yummy repertoire that had clarinet in it, and cello and piano,” Orloff said, recalling her early days playing music with Walz and Peck. “It’s just kind of a random thing. You never know who you’re going to stay in touch with for 40 years. The friendship angle and the music angle were very compatible.”
The two hang on to old concert programs, which helps them keep a tally of the number of concerts they’ve performed — that number verges on 2,000.
“It’s fun,” Orloff said. “You can go back and see what you did where, who you met when, and what rep you did, and it’s pretty neat to think about how it’s sustained.”
The two hardly rest on past laurels. Rather, they continue to learn and add new tunes to their repertoire, whether it be newly written music or something older but new to them. In fact, the concert program for Bend features two recent additions that fall in the latter category: French composer Leon Boellmann’s Sonata in A minor, Op.40, and Igor Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne.
“They’re not new pieces, but they’re pieces that we’ve added to our repertoire relatively recently and have been enjoying playing them a lot,” Walz said. “I think it’s a diverse and very exciting program that we’ve picked, starting with Beethoven and ending with Chopin, who are both extremely familiar to concertgoers.
“Boellmann, even though he was a late Romantic composer, nobody knows (him); audiences love this piece. The Stravinsky piece is a little edgy, but extremely friendly to the audience. It’s also a brilliantly virtuosic piece for both players.” The concert also includes 20th century composer Alberto Ginastera’s Pampeana No. 2.
Despite having two new — that is, new to them — tunes under their belts, there’s always more to learn, Orloff said.
“You have a big want-to-do pile, and it’s exciting to think about getting at all that stuff, via chamber or solo or whatever, but then it’s a little bit depressing, because you think, ‘Well, realistically I’m never going to be able to do all this,’” she said. “At least you can give it a try.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0349, email@example.com