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David Starobin on George Crumb and Bridge Records!

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

What initial experience or composer collaboration led you to pursue the development of new music for guitar?

David: When I was 13, a close friend introduced me to the music of Edgard Varèse. The combination of Varèse and the jazz scene of the early 60s pretty much determined my fate. In high school, I was fortunate to work with composer friends, and I just kept going with that.

What was your entrepreneurial inspiration behind Bridge Records, arguably one of the most exciting new music record labels in the United States?

D: I was frustrated when the labels I had been recording for, Vox Records and CRI (now New World Records), didn't bite on an album of new guitar music I had recorded. I wasn't sure about jumping into (the recording industry) because I was trained in music, not business. But my wife Becky, who is currently the president of a company, encouraged me. After our first LP was issued, I received a call from Jan DeGaetani asking us if we would be interested in recording her and Gilbert Kalish playing songs by Charles Ives and George Crumb's Apparition. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least! Those two were the leading song team of the era and musical heroes of mine. Their confidence in me was a springboard for getting this going. We're celebrating the 40th anniversary of Bridge Records this year.

Why should composers and guitarists collaborate?

D: The instrument's recent history is full of important pieces that were the direct result of a guitarist being there at the right time. It isn't necessary for there to be a collaboration. Some composers can figure the instrument out on their own, but many composers have benefitted from advice from players. Where would we be without Bream and Benjamin Britten’s Nocturnal, Fisk and Luciano Berio’s Sequenza, etc.?

Your recording of Mundus Canis (A Dog’s World) by Crumb is legendary. Could you tell us a little about your work with Crumb?

D: George is family. We met when I was 19 and have always been close. Soon after

forming Bridge Records, we decided to record all of George's music with him supervising the recordings. Fortunately, he keeps composing, so the journey continues. We recorded the 20th volume last week. Mundus Canis was the result of a request for a little guitar solo for my album, Newdance. Instead of a solo work, George asked if he could write a guitar piece with a percussion part so that he could play along with me. The piece is about five dogs in his life and (consists of five short) character pieces that are charming and humorous. We've played it together all over the world. If not for our respective ages, I'm sure we'd still be performing it. We always had great fun playing together.

Just for fun: If I were to pull up my listening chair and put on your album New Music with Guitar, Volume 6, what would be the ideal beverage of choice to accompany the listening?

D: I never expect people to like any particular beverage I offer. As in music, taste is just too unpredictable. But for me? A nice, cold IPA.

Thank you, David!

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