Tuesday Feb 7th, 2017
An Interview with YoungArts Alumnus and Nu Deco Co-Founder and Artistic Director Jacomo Rafael Bairos
Can you share your best YoungArts memory with us?
Difficult, I have so many great ones… Performing J. S. Bach's flute partita in a minor on my tuba for the first time in public, and then have people tell me that no matter what instrument you play, great musicianship is great musicianship. Jim Decker (My brass coach) made me feel like a million bucks, instilled hope and positivity in me, but also nurtured me closely for the week. He told me there is nothing I can’t achieve on the tuba the violin couldn’t achieve and said I was a born musician. The other moment was arriving the first night and meeting everyone, realizing there were so many high school kids across the country, my age, who loved music, and classical music, and art, and drama, and dance as much as I did! I went to a performing arts school, but seeing so much more of America in love with what I was in love with was amazing to me.
You are known as an imaginative young conductor. Can you share some career highlights as well as the vision or approach that makes you stand out?
I have been so blessed to transition from symphony musician in the back of the orchestra to an orchestra conductor. I would have never imagined I would get to work with such world class orchestras like National, St. Loius, Atlanta, and Houston, Iceland and even in Malaysia! The artists I have had the good fortune to collaborate with, from Jeremy Denk to Ben Folds, so many memorable concerts with orchestras. It is really hard to narrow it down! My subscription debut in Atlanta was a hugely rewarding experience, as they are one of the great American Orchestras with a sound, a purpose, and a pride for compelling music making. This Orchestra truly nurtured me in my early stages as well, when I assisted them often before I had any career going. I covered their rehearsals, conducted runout concerts, and more. That culminated into a subscription concert which was such a special moment for me. The orchestra was just back from a protracted strike, and they simple wanted to play, put their hearts back into the gift of music and share it with others. I got to feel that camaraderie and personality closer and it was pure warmth and joy that I will never forget.
The other concert was Nu Deco Ensembles debut performance. Sam and I had NO IDEA what we were doing, and had no idea if anyone would come, or if anyone would like what we were going to play. But we dreamed it up, and said let’s put it out there! Just the reaction we felt from everyone, across the board, audience members, musicians, our friends AfroBeta, we all knew something magical was born that night, and everyone rode this amazing wave of energy, start to finish.
Photo by Monica McGovern Souther Land Films.
What are you currently working on?
I have several projects I’m involved in. Nu Deco performs soon and we are also looking at building our 2017/18 season. Lot of strategizing, and creative and critical thinking go into looking at what will be our 3rd season. I conduct my beloved Amarillo Symphony in Texas in two weeks, for which I am Music Director, and I will also return to the Atlanta and National Symphonies Declassified Series later in the spring.
Can you tell us a bit more about Nu Deco Ensemble and what makes it so unique?
Nu Deco Ensemble is a genre-bending chamber orchestra designed for the 21st century. We play all styles of music, from reinventions of J.S. Bach, to some of todays most compelling, exciting and ground breaking living composers. We cherish unique and highly curated artist collaborations that join our ensemble alongside some incredible talented, and diverse cross-over artists. Kishi Bashi, Bilal, Brika, Andy Akiho, Tall Tall Tress, Project Trio, these are all groups that have not only a profound sense of musicianship and artistry, whether it be classical or other, yet live for the spirit of reinvention, collaboration, and providing transformative experiences for people. Our secret sauce is Sam Hyken’s incredible gift of musical language. He creates arrangements for our collaborations, all the symphonic suites we perform that are based off of Daft Punk, Jamiroquai, LCD Sound, Kraftwerk, Massive Attack and the new works based off classical masterpieces reinvented in fresh and dynamic ways. When you combine this together with South Florida's top musicians from all ranges; such as Classical, Jazz, Latin, Rock, Electronic and beyond, we create a new sound that feels current and relevant.
What is the latest for Nu Deco Ensemble? Do you have any exciting projects and performances coming up?
Nu Deco Ensembles remainder of the season is extremely exciting. We perform with the coolest Columbian band you can imagine, Monsieur Periné, at one of my favorite venues in Miami, the North Beach Bandshell on February 16th. It’s a great place for our more populist stuff, and there is space to dance, relax, have some food and drinks, and enjoy some amazing tunes under the Miami stars. We have two more eclectic concerts at the Light Box, one series March 9th - 11th, for Global Cuba Fest, and another in April 13th - 15th where will not only perform the music of arguably the most prolific living composer John Adams, but a new suite of music based off the late Prince. In April, we head to the Arsht Center to collaborate with Decadance, an awesome hip-hop company out of Brooklyn that is a genre-bending group as well. The concert centers on a brand new commissioned work by the Arsht Center which Sam Hyken conceptualizes and composes based off Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
One of the important mission of Nu Deco is to engage the various communities of Miami. What has the experience been to connect with such a variety of people? Why do you think your approach has been so successful in blending classical music with multicultural influences?
Nothing brings me more joy then bringing our signature sound to places in South Florida that are underserved. We received a wonderful Heineman Foundation grant in our first year, which allowed us to present music in Homestead, which is actually where I am from. We played a total of seven days of community concerts as well as interactive and engaging education shows in the beautifully restored Seminole Theater. Homestead, and in particular the public schools system down there back then, is where I fell in love with music. My middle school band director took me to see the Canadian brass when I was in 7th grade, and I was forever hooked. Nu Deco performed for over 4,500 elementary and middle school kids last year and the joy and connections I see in the kids when they learn that Beethoven and Rock music are connected through rhythm, is why I do what I do. If one child is forever changed, then our job was done.
Some info on the next Nu Deco concert:
Nu Deco Ensemble returns to the North Beach Bandshell, fusing the sounds of Colombia and Miami in a sensuous and festive fashion! This concert features some Nu Deco favorite genre-bending renditions, including LCD Soundsystem, Massive Attack and Jamiroquai, as well as new classical reinventions of Ginastera and J.S. Bach. The group will be joined on this performance with special guests, Latin GRAMMY-winning Colombian band Monsieur Periné. Come let the sounds and flavors of Columbia and Miami take you on a musical journey under the stars!
Date: Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 8:00pm
Where: North Beach Bandshell (7275 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33141)