Tag Archives: USC

PODCAST: Oystein Baadsvik and Tuba Civil Rights

Oystein Baadsvik is the only tuba player in the world to make his living entirely from solo performances, his own CDs and master classes.

For the last 20 years, he has been expanding the possibilities of the world’s largest brass instrument, and reshaping the way it’s viewed by the public, as well as by the musicians who play it.

(Listen to an interview with Oystein Baadsvik, tuba virtuoso and creative spirit.)

A Norwegian by birth, Baadsvik, 46, now spends 200 days a year traveling, preaching tuba creativity and the limitlessness of an instrument born more than a century ago into accompanist captivity.

I met Baadsvik before a master class he was to give one night at the University of Southern California — itself a center of tuba effervescence. (It’s where the late Tommy Johnson taught and turned out dozens of professional tuba players; and it’s where Jim Self now teaches and continues to educate the tubists of tomorrow.)

Close to a hundred students filled the class later that evening — most of them tuba players.

During our interview, we spoke about Baadsvik’s life as a tuba soloist, the limitations other non-players have imposed on the tuba, how tuba players have subconsciously accepted these limitations, and whether a tuba civil rights movement has formed to lead the instrument out from the back of the band.

“Playing a tuba is always crossing borders, doing stuff that hasn’t been done before,” he said.

Anyway, hope you enjoy an interview with a creative spirit.

The pieces on the podcast are:

First, “Dancing with a Blue Ribbon” from his new CD, Ferry Tales.

“Winter” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” from his first CD, Tuba Carnival.

Finally, “Fnugg,” also from Tuba Carnival.


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LOS ANGELES: Mayhem round-up

Occasionally, reporters deal with a scattered blast of stories. I did this a lot in Stockton years ago when I was a crime reporter there: the mayhem round-up.

Today, it was  a shooting of a robbery suspect by USC public safety officers near the school’s fraternity row, this coming early in the a.m. A sensitive event, as last week two USC grad students from China were killed in a car late at night.

Then at noon, a press conference about an ex-con who allegedly developed a business model of driving around town in a Mercedes convertible looking for cars to break into, mostly near movie studios. Usually the cars had property in plain sight. They charged him with receiving stolen property, something he was on probation for already.

Cops displayed a few tables of loot they’d confiscated at his house (see photo), most of which they were still sorting through but some of which was already shown to be stolen.

A remarkable haul: cameras, lenses, iPads, iPods, cellphones of various brands, laptops, external hard drives, comic books, backpacks, watches, jewelry, foreign currency and $24,000 in U.S. cash.

Then there was the death — no foul play suspected — of a CSU San Bernardino student in his dormitory. This is the school where my old Claremont High School friend (CHS ’77) Sid Robinson is the director of communications. Cheers, Sid!



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LOS ANGELES: Chinese USC students killed

Today’s story was of the two USC engineering students from China shot to death on a street in the West Adams district early Wednesday.

The area is a mix of old two-story elegant wood-frame homes, which I’m tempted to call Craftsmans though I don’t think they officially are, and 1980s dingbat apartments — the kind that look like they’re up on stilts, with poles/carports underneath, no open space, and which almost always lead to a degradation of a neighborhood, at least in LA.

USC students, mostly from abroad, and Latino workers in L.A.’s service industries live in the area.

Police seem to have very little on the crime. Could be a carjacking, or a straight-up robbery. A crime of passion?

I worked with Rosanna Xia, a Times colleague who speaks Chinese and did really great work. Chinese, English, Spanish — the three languages of the 21st Century, at least for this part of the world.



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