Chris holds a BA in classical guitar performance from Gustavus Adolphus. He teaches classical guitar and piano at Schmitt Music and plays with jazz musicians David Beyer (Paleo Nath), Kelly Mason of Avian Syncopy, and with the Rochester Pops Orchestra.
What sparked your interest in music?
I started piano when I was five. I didn’t like piano that much as a kid, but now I wish I would have stuck with it. I played clarinet in elementary school, but the jazz band was where I could play guitar, an instrument that I was a bit more invested in.
Thoughts on performing?
I’m really into music theory. Much of my time these days is spent on jazz piano, so I don’t play out very often. I am a bit fonder of sharpening the axe than chopping the wood.
Top three artists at the moment?
Brad Mehldau. He’s a modern jazz pianist. The album I have been listening to has pentatonic-inspired melodies. It is like adding salt to caramel. Snarky Puppy. It’s one of the bands that I’ve really liked for a long time. I tend to overplay them until I can’t listen to them anymore. Flying Lotus. He is a little bit more experimental.
Favorite local hangout?
My room. I enjoy people, but I definitely have a finite stamina for them. My room is my place to recharge.
Strangest thing you’ve ever seen an audience member do?
There was a guy who had a heart attack in the audience once. We stopped the performance, even though it was very pleasant jazz music that we were playing. I think he lived.
Kindest words from an audience member?
There was this moment in college where someone heard me play a classical guitar piece and then said to me, “I knew you played guitar well, but holy crap!”
If you had to outlaw one song from ever being played again, which would it be and why?
Mathcore. It’s a type of metal, I suppose. They take it a step too far in the wrong direction, though. It’s music that is completely based off of math. It’s music that completely abandons any kind of emotion.
What makes you stand out as a musician?
I like to think I am really good at theory and I have a well-trained ear, but that is nothing new.
What is your musical philosophy?
My relationship with music has changed. It is now a study rather than a break from life, and I don’t enjoy it the same way I did before. When I first started studying music, there was this mysterious quality to it. Now it’s not as mysterious anymore. A professional cook is not going to be impressed by a Twinkie after he’s studied the culinary arts.
What motivates you to keep playing music?
Music is the cornerstone of who I am. If I stopped doing it, I would feel pretty lost.