BWW Interview: Jordan Rudess: FROM BACH TO ROCK at Iridium
From Bach to Rock
April 7th, 2017 at 8pm : Shalin LIu Performance Center, Rockport, MA
April 12th, 2017 at 8pm & 10:30pm: Iridium Jazz Club, New York City, NY
April 13th, 2017 at 8pm : World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
Jordan Rudess, the keyboard wizard of Dream Theater, is going to be playing some extremely rare solo acoustic performances this month. Broadway Classical caught up with Jordan as he was preparing for his upcoming solo gigs.
BWW: Is your preparation for these solo performances vastly different that your preparation for a Dream Theater tour?
JR: Interesting question. Yes and no. Yes in the obvious ways in terms of exercises and warming up. But I guess the main difference is the level of focus required in the preparation for these shows. Specifically, it's really whole different level of focus in the rehearsal of these pieces.
BWW: Are you performing pieces that were particularly meaningful to you in your more "classical" days?
JR: Definitely some. But there also a number of selections that were not necessarily part of my classical education. One that is particularly important, is the Chopin G Minor Ballad. It's especially memorable because it was sort of the final piece of classical piano music I ever played as a student.
BWW: Do you remember the specific moment?
JR: Actually I do. I was at Juilliard in a rehearsal room practicing on one of the pianos, playing the Chopin Ballad. I had my music open on the piano as I played. When I was finished, and I thought I'd played it fairly well, I remember my piano teacher coming over to the piano and slamming the book shut and taking it away. She said: "My students do not play from sheet music, they memorize the music before they sit down to play it."
BWW: And that was the turning point?
JR: Yeah that sort of did it for me. Because at the time I was also being exposed to a ton of new music, a lot of what would now be termed prog rock. And I remember distinctly, when I was in high school, a friend of mine came over to my house and said he had something he just had to show me. So I went over to his house and he had a new Moog Sonic 6. He really didn't know what to do with it, so he asked me to check it out. And it was mind-blowing. Compared to the acoustic piano that I had been used to it was another world. It had oscillators and filters and a seeming endless amount of different sounds could be created on it.
BWW: Was there any one piece of music that swayed you to the "dark side?"
JR: There was a lot, but probably the tipping point for me was "Tarkus" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. That song was a real revelation. It opened up a whole new world of what was possible on the keyboard, both compositionally and in terms of different sounds.
BWW: Is it true that your mother cried the day you told her you were quitting the conservatory?