TANGO PROJECT LOCA BOHEMIA
The story of this CD begins in 2001 when I was finishing a Grad Dip. in violin performance at Sydney Conservatorium of Music. I had discovered the tangos of Astor Piazzolla and was captivated by the sophistication, the expressive possibilities and the subtleties of performance which were there in scores and recordings from Argentina, but absent in most tango performance elsewhere. I decided to go to Buenos Aires for as long as it took and learn from the maestros in whose orchestras Piazzolla trained.
Arriving in September 2003, I rented a room in a small tango house in San Telmo, an old tango district south of the city near the river front. By chance, immediately I was introduced to Ignacio Varchausky, a young double bassist already marshalling the help of the City of Buenos Aires Government to find and convince the maestros of the 1940s and 50s (those who were still alive), to share their experience with a school of tango he was creating, La Escuela De Tango Emilio Balcarce.
The aim was to teach young musicians the art of playing the tango of their grandparents which, due to political unrest and Rock n Roll, had skipped a generation. The creation of this school is portrayed in the film Si sos brujo: A Tango Story.
That first trip I spent the days in rehearsal halls and nights in cafes and bars, listening to the best live tango bands, quartets and trios in the world. The high level of musicianship, artistry and individual character of the solos of each instrument just reinforced my decision. For the next decade I kept going back, invited by Varchausky and assisted by The Ian Potter Cultural Trust to study and perform on violin with the Orquesta Escuela De Tango Emilio Balcarce, under the direction of some of the leading maestros of the 20thcentury.
Most intriguing in the orchestra was the bandoneón, a small German button concertina-like instrument with four different keyboards (tecladas) and a chaotic layout, its sound accounting for the rhythmic drive and nostalgic human voice of the tango. Young virtuosos displayed unbelievable brilliance playing solos on this crazy instrument – I had to learn it.
In April 2007 I began bandoneón studies back in Buenos Aires, thereafter practising 5 hours each day wherever I was, while also playing with the Orquesta Escuela De Tango on violin . My teachers included some of the instrument’s young virtuosos, Ramiro Boero, Camillo Ferrero and Santiago Polimeni who plays on this album.
In 2009 in Sydney I was invited to form a tango youth orchestra, TangoOz for Sydney Youth Orchestras (SYO) and this I direct from the bandoneón. TangoOz and I have just begun our fifth year. Sydney Conservatorium High School, among others, also recognized tango’s relevance and for years has given me the opportunity to teach young ensembles.
In March 2010 Ignacio Varchausky (awarded Latin Grammy Award in 2009) agreed to produce a CD where I would play both violin and bandoneón alternately, then as a duet on the last track, Loca Bohemia.
Emilio Balcarce, who died in 2011 aged 93, played both violin and bandoneón but not in the same decade or ever on the same CD. We commissioned arrangements and selected our dream team of musicians; Andres Linetzky, Guillermo Rubino, Santiago Polimeni and, with Varchausky on double bass, rehearsed in Buenos Aires in April, May and July 2011.
Tango Project Loca Bohemia was recorded in the first week of August 2011 at Estudio Cosentino, Buenos Aires, using the beautiful old Steinway always used by pianist Marta Argerich when performing in the city. The CD is the product of a decade of tango study and performance with some of the best Argentine tango musicians, young and old. So far it’s the most rewarding collaboration of my career.
Maggie Ferguson – Sydney, March 1, 2013
- 1. Chuzas (A. Bardi) 3:14
- 2. La Cachila (E. Arolas) 2:46
- 3. Redencion (A. Gobbi) 3:05
- 4. Milonguero Viejo (C. Di Sarli) 3:38
- 5. La Bordona (E. Balcarce) 3:54
- 6. Zita (A. Piazzolla) 5:03
- 7. Don Agustín Bardi (H. Salgán) 3:18
- 8. Nochero Soy (O. Herrero) 3:51
- 9. La Cumparsita (G. M. Rodriguez) 3:37
- 10. Loca Bohemia (F. De Caro) 3:12
- Maggie Ferguson:
- violin tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 bandoneon tracks 3, 5, 7, 8 violin & bandoneon track 10
- Santiago Polimeni:
- bandoneon tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 9
- Andrés Linetzky:
- piano tracks 1 – 9
- Guillermo Rubino:
- violin tracks 3, 5, 7, 8
- Ignacio Varchausky:
- double bass tracks 1 – 9
Arrangements by track
1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9: Andrés Linetzky
5: Emilio Balcarce (quartet version by Andrés Linetzky)
6: Astor Piazzolla (quartet version by German Martinez)
7: Horacio Salgán (quartet version by Andrés Linetzky)
10: Maggie Ferguson
- Producer: Ignacio Varchausky
- Recorded and edited by Fabiola Russo at Estudios Cosentino during the first week of august 2011
- Recording assistant: Christian Russo
- Mixed and Mastered by Marcelo “Coca” Monte and Ignacio Varchausky at Estudio Monte Varsovia
- Photos by Guillermo Monteleone
- Video by Giselle Lozano and Constanza Petrera
- Album cover and graphic design by email@example.com, Sydney, Australia
- Executive Producer: Steve Maier
- This album is dedicated with love to Ken Ferguson and Kevin Williams
Not long ago, I visited Sydney to teach and play with Maggie Ferguson. The plan was to coach a series of groups and orchestras that Maggie had been training in tango music for a while. To my surprise, the students, who had just started playing tango music and had never been to Buenos Aires, were really good and genuinely into it. There is only one way something like that could happen: a knowledgeable and passionate teacher. Maggie had successfully re created in Australia part of what we’ve done in Argentina with the Orquesta Escuela de Tango Emilio Balcarce, one of the most influential pedagogical programs about tango music in the last few decades.
Maggie was lucky enough to be part of the school orchestra while the legendary Emilio Balcarce was still playing and conducting, an amazing and rare privilege for any musician, regardless of nationality, age or skill.
Since 2003, Maggie kept coming back to Buenos Aires every year, learning more and more about tango music and turning her passion into a mission. After several visits and a lot of tango playing, she started sharing what she’d learned with fellow musicians in Australia, introducing tango music to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Sydney Youth Orchestras.
This was already great, and much more than I had expected, but the biggest surprise came when she announced she would start studying the bandoneon. Not only was she already a seasoned classical violin player and tango musician, but now she was also learning how to play one of the most intricate and mysterious instruments available… at this point I thought she might be crazy! But she worked incredibly hard, pursuing her dream. This record is the product of that dream and Maggie, unbelievably, plays both the violin and the bandoneón and continues to spread the word about this beautiful art form called tango.
I am proud of this record, and I am proud of my friend.
Buenos Aires September 2011