“Guest guitarist Oren Fader brought out his instrument’s capacity for excitement and shimmering brilliance throughout “Aranjuez”.”
— Omaha.com, Todd von Kampen / World-Herald correspondent (2014)
“Mr. Meltzer’s own “From a Book of Beautiful Monsters,” set to texts by Aracelis Girmay, took the idea of portability one step further by doing away with the piano. Instead, his instrumentation blended the warmth of Oren Fader’s guitar with the silvery twang of William Anderson’s mandolin as a foil for Elizabeth Farnum’s bright soprano. In one instance, the instruments recreated sounds of nature — raindrops, the chirping of crickets — under a darkening vocal line.”
— Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, New York Times (2014)
“There were more than a few scintillating movements, such as a harp and guitar duo “Luna” performed with gentle plucking by Nuiko Wadden and Oren Fader, respectively.”
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (2012)
“Each of the players received a front and center type solo stint. Fader and his guitar received the most thunderous and extended applause, but each of them deserved the enthusiasm of the cheering audience.
— El Paso Inc. (2011)
“But the Aranjuez was the real jewel of the evening and here the orchestra was at its best. Oren Fader was the perfect soloist–steeped in the complexities of new music, he threw light on both the technical and the expressive, showing the strength and dignity in both, and turning what could easily have been a run-of-the-mill event into something captivating and exquisite.”
— Carlton Wilkinson, The And of One (2011)
“As the soloist for Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez,” guitarist Oren Fader made a valuable contribution to the program. After a sunny take on its active opening, his expressively played “Adagio” movement took on the vulnerable character of a song of loss or longing while maintaining its bravado, with fine playing from the NJSO….the spirit of the piece and Fader’s fingerwork drew enthusiastic applause.”
— Robert Johnson-The Star Ledger NJ.com (2011)
“The guitarist Oren Fader, the work’s third featured performer, played Brilliantly.”
— The New York Times (2010)
“But the real find in the Fireworks set was Charles Wuorinen’s Sonata for Guitar and Piano (1995), in a sensitive performance by Mr. Fader and Mr. Johnston.”
— The New York Times (2009)
“Also on Sunday evening the guitarist Oren Fader presided over a lively account of Mario Davidovsky’s invitingly pointillistic “Festino” (1991) .”
— The New York Times (2009)
“Particularly striking in this account of “DW2” were the virtuosic violin solos by Miranda Cuckson, Oren Fader’s inventive contributions on the electric guitar and Carol McGonnell’s mesmerizingly insistent clarinet playing.”
— The New York Times (2009)
“Oren Fader, a guitarist, played with confidence and style.”
— The New York Times (2008)
“The group includes…Oren Fader, who draws from his electric guitar both subtle nuances and ear-splitting explosions.”
— Grammophone (2008)
“The players, of course, are from the ranks of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Notable were Nick Eanet, violinist, and Oren Fader, guitarist…
— The New York Times (2000)
“His scholarship, technique, and intelligent musicianship are plainly evident and the beauty of his tone is consistently compelling.”
— Guitar Review
“Serenade is set to Mr. Harrison’s “Serenade for Guitar”, with Oren Fader as the fine guitarist seated onstage…”
— The New York Times
“On his new CD First Flight…Oren Fader serves up a nourishing feast of new music…Fader’s skill, particularly his conductor-like understanding is palpable on every track. The ultimate strength of this CD, however, is it’s form: the program has the consistency of one large 12 movement sonata, yet every piece shines with its own personality and intellectual gusto. Have credit cards ready and go to www.cdbaby.com.”
— Guitar Review
“Indeed, Oren is a guitarist who seems to have his hand in just about everything interesting. In addition to a prospering solo career, he frequently performs in duos, ensembles, commissions new music, and even tours with the Mark Morris Dance Company.”
— Nylon Review
“Oren Fader gave the guitar part a polished, energetic performance that was precisely matched to the tape sounds.”
— The New York Times
“The next pieces on the program…were played with a balance of passion and intellect, guided by a warm singing tone in the melody.”
— Guitar Review
“The guitarist, Oren Fader glided through Mario Davidovsky’s Synchronisms #10 , letting the electronically produced guitar sound appear with suprising force to contrast with his own delicately molded performance..”
— Philadelphia Enquirer
“Oren Fader, an increasingly prominent guitarist about town, is the guest of Speculum Musicae…”
“— The New Yorker
“The group includes…Oren Fader, who draws from his electric guitar both subtle nuances and earsplitting explosions.”
“Josh Levine’s Glimpses had a delicate shimmer befitting its title, and excellent work by Tara Helen O’Connor on flute, Daniel Panner on viola and Oren Fader on guitar.”
“…totally winning confidence on display, especially Oren Fader and William Anderson in the crucial guitar and mandolin parts.”
“Fader’s solo guitar in “Three Venezuelan Waltzes,” by Antonio Lauro, was superbly performed in the masterful tradition of Alirio Diaz.”
-NewsTimesLive.com (Danbury CT)
A guitar concerto [Del Puerto’s “Zephyr”] cast in a single movement, with fast-slow-fast subsections, it was a delightful showcase for the excellent soloist Oren Fader.
— Sequenza 21
“Anderson and Fader are expert chamber musicians with a perfect sense of timing, virtuosity and a sensitivity to nuance.”
— Guitar Review
“His (Milton Babbitt) melodies leap freely around the fretboard, and his rhythms are complex and perilous. Yet Mr. Anderson and Mr. Fader performed the work from memory, and gave an impressive account of it.”
— The New York Times
“A highlight of the evening was a performance of Milton Babbitt’s works by guitarists William Anderson and Oren Fader…(The Babbitt is) a major work written for the duo which demands a high level of musical comprehension and virtuosity. These players seem to feel as comfortable playing this music, despite its complexity, as many guitarists are playing the music of Sor and Giuliani.”
— Guitar Review
“Anderson and Fader are technically superb and musically
adventurous, able to execute complex rhythms and tonalities with
seeming ease. They treat listeners to the kind of confidence that
gives new music the ballast of tradition and familiar music the
buoyancy that comes from the stretching of possibilities.”
— The Maui News
“William Anderson, Scott Kuney and Oren Fader, the three guitarists, gave the piece an electrifying reading.”
— The New York Times
“Martin Rokeach’s attractive Fantasy on Twelve Notes was well played by guitarists William Anderson and Oren Fader.”
— San Fransisco Classical Voice
“The Cygnus Ensemble has long distinguished itself as one of New York’s finest new-music ensembles (and has brought about a remarkable amount of excellent music for its unusual configuration).”
— Carson Cooman, Fanfare Magazine
” …The Cygnus Ensemble made another fine appearance at Merkin concert Hall. With two very fine guitarists among them (William Anderson and Oren Fader), Cygnus has done a lot to promote new chamber works with (and for) a somewhat neglected chamber instrument, the classical guitar.”
— New Music Connoisseur
“Cygnus continues to give captivating performances of Twentieth Century music featuring some of today’s outstanding young musicians.”
— Guitar Review
“This enterprising and supple group–featuring guitars, strings and woodwinds in pairs–presents a light, lively evening of music from contemporary American composers, with offshoots into the European past. ”
— Paul Griffiths, The New York Times
“The Cygnus Ensemble shows why they are considered among the best of the new music groups. On this CD [ Broken Consort ], they bring a highly unusual instrumentation and masterful ensemble playing to bear on a program of diverse works.”
“But my favorite chamber disc this month is the debut CD by the Cygnus Ensemble, a group comprised of flute, oboe, violin, cello and two guitars – a really exciting new variation on the overused Pierrot ensemble. (It’s great hearing how composers as diverse as Anthony Braxton and Sebastian Currier handle the assignment.)”
— Frank J. Oteri, NewMusicBox.org
“The evening’s stunner was a new Morris solo, “Serenade” (to Lou Harrison’s piece for guitar and percussion, fabulously played by Oren Fader and Sefan Schatz).”
— The Oakland Tribune
“…Serenade for Guitar (guitarist Oren Fader and percussionist Stefan Schatz were the excellent performers).”
— San Fransisco Chronicle
“In “Serenade,” Morris shares the stage with guitarist Oren Fader and percussionist Stefan Schatz. They’re all in the spotlight throughout this work, which pays tribute to the bond between music and dance…”
— Boston Globe
—Interview with James Holt for his Podcast “My Ears Are Open”
—Interview from Classical Guitar Magazine, August 2009, conducted by Lawrence Del Casale:
When did you decide that the guitar was your calling?
Oren Fader: I’ve been playing guitar since I was 9 years old. I’ve always loved it, and never really considered that I would end up doing anything else. I certainly didn’t have any other marketable skills! The way I remember it, when I told my parents I wanted to play guitar, they said, “don’t you want to learn a ‘real’ instrument (violin, cello, etc)?” I was very into music and magic (tricks) in those days. There was a Broadway show at that time starring Doug Henning (“The Magic Show”) and I was inspired. He was like a magician and rock star (long hair) in one. Eventually I gave up on the magic.
LDC: What event would you consider a turning point in those early days?
OF: When I was very young, in elementary school, we would take trips to the Bloomingdale House of Music, a local music school, to play recorders and percussion. I later took my first guitar lessons at that school. Also, my father and mother both went to Juilliard, and my father has been playing professionally for about 50 years. We’d play music games where I’d have to sing back a tune he’d sing, or pick out which instrument in the orchestra was playing a solo.
I remember saving up and getting Beatles’ LPs, one at a time. These totally blew me away. I later had the same feelings listening to Led Zeppelin and Rush. I didn’t listen to too much classical music. It was only many years later, in college that I started to seriously listen to classical music. I had a theory teacher named Bob Fertita who would play bits of Mozart concertos from memory. He clearly loved it, and I started to as well. However, It took a long time for me to listen to classical music without it’s (to me, negative) associations: uptight, snobbish, elitist, etc. Finally I just heard the music as music.
Another was getting a Julian Bream album. I was playing some of the same pieces on the record and couldn’t figure out how he could play those pieces without mistakes! Some years later, I heard him in New York . I was about 12, and my grandmother took me backstage to meet him. She said he commented on my unusual name; I have no recollection of this, I was too nervous meeting him.
LDC: Did you attend a music college or university for music?
OF: State University of NY at Purchase for Undergraduate, and Florida State University for Graduate.
LDC: Whom would you consider your mentor along the way?
OF: 4 people: My father, and 3 guitar teachers:
My father, Larry Fader, is a professional violist, who gave me my first lessons, and would offer suggestions for the next 30 years. Around 12 years old, I would be playing scales, and he would shout from the next room; “not even!” Or, “you’re going to leave it like that?”. This drove me nuts, but helped me listen to what I was playing. Later on, he and my mother would coach me. I had many small recitals in their living room for friends. (I still do.)
Jeff Israel, my first private instructor, would teach me classical and fingerpicking one week, alternating with jazz and rock the next. Jeff introduced me to so much music, especially jazz and rock players (we’d play tunes by Jeff Beck, All man Brothers, Lee Ritenour, Earl Klugh, etc. Then the next week it would be Bach and Doc Watson.)
During my high school years, a colleague of my father recommended David Starobin as a private instructor. It’s hard to sum up what David taught me in 7 years, but here’s an attempt: sound, expression, form, making sense of new music, repertoire, and so many other things. I still remember exactly what he said about certain famous pieces: Fandanguilllo, Nocturnal, Bach suites, Ginastera sonata (and later, Carter’s “Changes”.) With the Nocturnal, I remember he said it was as if Britten had looked back 500 years to John Dowland, and said, “I hear you”. Many years later I got a chance to work with David as a producer on some of my new music projects. That was exciting as well.
David gave me my first real gig. It was a contemporary piece by Marc Antonio Consoli. Not too demanding technically, but again, David helped me understand how the piece worked, and how it could make sense. I remember the gig because I had to buy a nice pair of shoes! I think it went well.
I was freelancing a little bit after graduating college (undergraduate), but not enough to live on. I also wanted some time to work on technical aspects of my guitar playing, and trying to master the instrument. I looked for a teacher for a long time, and then Tom Humphrey suggested I have a lesson with Bruce Holzman, a friend of his. I played for Bruce (I think some Villa Lobos) and said to him “Can you help me learn to play guitar better?” He said “Yeah, but there’s no pill”. I was fine with that, and spent the next 3 years at Florida State University practicing scales, arpeggios, and understanding a certain technical approach to guitar playing, that I use in my own playing and teaching. Tallahassee was a very slow town compared to New York City, and it was ideal for focused practice. My roommate at that time was Steven Walter, a great player and luthier. We’d talk about middle joints, and flexion/extension and geeky things like that.
Bruce also was extremely patient, and told me things were ok, even when I knew they really were bad! Somehow he knew that if I kept doing what he said, I’d be ok. He also had amazing ears, and could hear everything you were doing.
LDC: Were there times when you wanted to give up the guitar?
OF: Never wanted to give it up, although it has driven me crazy at times. I often wish I had more technique than I do! Sometimes the freelance business was frustrating; doing gigs for no money, or bad new music, or shlepping lots of gear (I still do that). But after 20 years doing it, it’s still really fun and interesting. Both the pieces and the pay got better.
LDC: What project(s) are you currently involved in?
OF: Many, as is usual. Lots of touring with the Fireworks Ensemble (electric guitar). This is a group with eclectic programs: “Cartoon music”, “Dance music from the Renaissance to the Bee Gees”, “Music of Franz Zappa” and others. I had to learn to be a better electric guitar player, as well as learn how to use my effects processor for this group.
I’m also doing quite a bit of new music recording, concerts and residencies with my other new music group, Cygnus Ensemble (mostly on classical guitar). This is a group formed by my duo partner, the guitarist William Anderson, and has plucked instruments paired with winds and strings. Cygnus has residencies at the CUNY Graduate Center , and Sarah Lawrence College . In each place, we play the music of student composers, and help them to write well for our instruments.
Other projects are the American premiere of David del Puerto’s guitar concerto, coaching Marteau Sans Maitre with Pierre Boulez, later playing that piece in Utah this summer, returning to Tanglewood to play Davidovsky (last year it was Carter), the Rodrigo Aranjuez Concerto with the Manchester Music Festival, and many other new music projects. This past winter I did the guitar part to a Pillsbury Dough commercial (Gotta pay the bills!).
LDC: Do you have a specialty that sets you apart?
OF: I’m a very good reader, and can learn hard music very quickly. That’s important in the New York new music world. And I can play lots of plucked instruments: Classical, acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, mandolin. That helps too. I also have a lot of experience playing chamber music.
LDC: Do you teach? Where?
OF: I’ve been teaching classical guitar and coaching chamber music at the Manhattan School of Music since 1994. I also teach privately, and occasionally give master classes. Sometimes it’s about classical guitar, and sometimes I give classes on new music.
LDC: What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
OF: Too many to mention. Lately I like reading Buddhist writers like Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chodron. Not specifically musical or career advice, but helpful.
For guitar playing, I love Aaron Shearer’s later books on guitar technique (learning the classic guitar), and Scott Tenant’s “Pumping Nylon”. All students should read those books.
Two bits I remember from my teachers: when I was nervous while playing, David Starobin would say “focus on the music”.
And when I’d get frustrated and think I wasn’t getting any better, Bruce Holzman would say “Change your strings.”
LDC: What is the one piece of advice you would give to your student(s)?
OF: Work hard, be prepared, be easy to get along with, cultivate musical contacts early, have a great website, play as many types of plucked instruments as possible. Decide what you’d really like to be doing, and see if you can realistically do it.
For most students, it’s also a good idea to have a skill that’s music related so you can make some money while waiting for the big call. Some examples are working in a music studio, designing websites, Arts management, teaching, working in a music store, etc.
LDC: If you had to do it all over again what would you do differently?
OF: About the same!
LDC: Who is your biggest inspiration?
OF: Too many to mention, but mostly great teachers and players. All my teachers mentioned above, plus my guitar heroes (Hendrix, Page, Beck, along with many classical players), and other great musicians (mostly classical singers and pianists). Also, the teacher (Mr. Moy Lin-Shin) who founded my tai chi group, the Taoist Tai Chi Society (this keeps me healthy in body and mind), and also people trying to work for a better world, locally or globally (too many to mention!).
All kinds of artists inspire me.
—Article from Guitar Review, #136 Spring 2009:
I have many memories of Tom Humphrey.
I was introduced to Tom when I was very young, by my teacher David Starobin .
I bought one of Tom’s Millennium guitars around1988, a beautiful instrument that I still own and play every day.
Sometimes I’d call Tom to ask him about something and we’d end up chatting for a long time; he liked to know who was playing what music, and lots of details about the NYC guitar scene. He would sometimes call and tell me, “Quick, come over! The Assads (or Eliot Fisk, or Vladimir Mikulka) are in my living room playing. Come check them out!”
He was very generous with helping me meet and hear great players.
When I was looking for a place to go to Graduate School , he introduced me to Bruce Holzman and insisted I go there ( Florida State University ).
I did, and I’ll always be grateful to Tom for that.
I remember he often teased me about playing strange contemporary music. But I think he thought it was interesting anyway.
Once in a while I’d go up to see Tom and his wonderful family in Upstate NY, and he was always excited about something. It could be the guitar series he established near his home, or his ideas about adding certain materials to the wood in his guitars to make them stronger, or sound better (this went over my head). He also showed me some steel string guitars he made- loud and clear, they sounded amazing!
He was also generous with his time, and would fix things on my guitar for free, or if it was something major (like the time he changed the scale on my guitar from 66cm to 65cm, which entailed putting on a new fingerboard), he would charge me something very small.
He clearly loved his guitars, and loved the players too, many of which were his good friends.
I really miss him. He was special.
—Interview from Nylon Review, August 22, 2008
Interviewed by J. Andrew Dickenson
“I feel lucky to be able to do this,” Oren Fader says. “Being a freelance guitarist in New York is the most interesting job I could ever imagine having. Constantly performing new works, playing with different players and ensembles, travel, teaching, recording. It’s really the best. Of course, it’s not the most stable job in the world. But the challenges and rewards really make it wonderful.”
Indeed, Oren is a guitarist who seems to have his hand in just about everything interesting. In addition to a prospering solo career, he frequently performs in duos, ensembles, commissions new music, and even tours with the Mark Morris Dance Company. A seasoned musician who studied with Bruce Holzman and David Starobin, Oren’s international performance career has taken him to the far corners of the earth: Tokyo, Russia, Munich, and Mexico are just a few of the distant locales that have had the pleasure of hearing his music.
In addition to performance, Oren has been featured on a range of recording projects, making guest appearances on albums with music from Dowland to a 21st century arrangement of The Rite of Spring. His debut solo CD, Another’s Fandango, was met with critical acclaim and featured performances of Bach, Rodrigo and more. Oren now follows his debut with yet another stunning solo achievement, First Flight, a compilation of 10 pieces written specifically for him. I asked him to tell me how this project came about.
Fader: I had just finished a solo CD of more traditional music (Bach, Rodrigo, Mertz), and I wanted to do something new. A lot of the music I play is contemporary music, composed in the last few years, and I thought it would be interesting to ask some composers I respect to write me short pieces. Some of the composers were people I’d known for years, like my duo partner Bill Anderson, and some were relatively new to me. One of my new music groups, Cygnus, has a residency at the CUNY Graduate Center, and three of the students’ compositions for the group really stood out. So I asked them to write a piece for me. Other composers I’d heard about, or had worked with
on other projects.
I was also influenced by one of my teachers, David Starobin, who has
recorded many new works, and expanded the repertoire. I had been thinking for some time that something like that would be a really exciting project. I dedicated the recording to him.
AD: Tell me about the music on First Flight.
Fader: The beautiful thing about the CD is that all the composers are so different from one another. One sounds a little like Carter, and one sounds like banjo picking. One has Hendrix influences, and one has Indian sitar licks. The styles are really all over the map, and that, to me, makes the CD interesting. I love playing my iPod on “random”, so I’ll be hearing Monteverdi, and then Van Halen. “First Flight” is a little like that. By the way, First Flight is the English translation for “Primo Volo”, one of the pieces on the CD, by Marco Oppedisano, who was also my producer and editor.
AD: Would you recommend all guitarists/musicians work with composers?
Fader: Absolutely. You can learn so much. You can learn (after many years), the difference between a difficult piece and a poorly written piece. This kind of knowledge comes in handy in residencies, when you get a lot of student compositions. You have to decide whether the piece will sound good after sufficient practice, or whether the lack of knowledge/skill about guitar writing presents a problem. With some of the pieces on the CD, I offered the composers some minor revisions, voicings, or techniques of which they may not have been aware. After years of playing new music you can usually get what the composer is about. Then it’s the player’s job to make it come alive, or at least make sense! I don’t want to co-compose, but I will offer
suggestions. Some of the pieces on the CD were written by guitarists, and of course these required the least editing.
AD: While so many guitarists sit in their room practicing solo music, you are an active collaborator with other musicians and you are a member of many interesting ensembles. What do you enjoy about playing with other musicians?
Fader: First of all, its fun. I love playing solo repertoire, but there’s so much great music with other instrumentalists. Why not play it? Also, you can learn a great deal: other instrumentalists have different concerns; breathing, phrasing; each instrument has to deal with how they make a line. Guitarists are not trained to breathe, but if you work with a singer, you have to learn how. Your playing becomes deeper. Also, on a practical level, it’s good to have someone coach you who doesn’t play the instrument. They don’t care about your nails, or about the fact that the guitar is soft, or lacks sustain. They just want to hear the music. This kind of approach is very valuable.
AD: Three of the ensembles you play in- Fireworks, Cygnus, and Glass Farm- are dedicated new music, but all three have different styles, instrumentation, and play different music. Tell me about some of these differences and what you enjoy about each.
Fader: I enjoy playing in all of them. Briefly, Cygnus (two guitars, flute, violin, cello, oboe) has been performing and commissioning new works for almost 20 years. Next season will be our 20th, and we’ll have a new works concert to celebrate. This group has commissioned some of the finest composers, including Milton Babbitt, Charles Wuorinen, Sebastian Currier, Akemi Naito, and many others. We’ll soon release a new CD on Bridge Records. Bill Anderson is the founder.
Fireworks (electric guitar, bass, percussion, plus pierrot ensemble- piano, winds and strings) is a rock inspired new music group. The founder and bassist, Brian Coughlin, has arranged all sorts of music for us, including Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (recorded last year and available), and Dance music from the Renaissance to the Bee Gees (recorded and will be released next year). This group gives me a chance to get in touch with my rock roots. This summer the group has residencies and performances in Oregon and Utah.
The Glass Farm Ensemble was founded by the marvelous Swiss composer and pianist Yvonne Troxler. For years Yvonne has been presenting concerts with new music, sometimes mixed in with older classics. Glass Farm Quartet is electric guitar, sax, piano and percussion. This group’s mission is really to expand the literature for this quartet. When we started playing together there were only a few pieces we knew about, Andriessen’s “Hout” being the famous one. We now have commissioned and presented dozens of new works for this ensemble. Other Glass Farm projects include performances of Yvonne’s transcription of a Mahler song cycle in the Fall, and our continuing NYC series. In addition, we have just finished recording a piece written for us by New York University composer Elizabeth Hoffman.
AD: You recently went on tour with the Mark Morris Dance Company. That must be really exciting.
Fader: It was a pleasure, although it was the first time in many years that I had to audition for a gig. I played with this company for about a year and a half. It was really only one piece, Lou Harrison’s Serenade, for guitar and percussion. This was onstage accompaniment for a solo dance choreographed and performed by Mark Morris. Mark is a superb musician, as well as being a
legendary performer, and he coached us and gave us lots of ideas. It’s as I said before, since Mark is not a guitarist, his comments were purely musical ones: Faster, slower, more intense, accents, climaxes, moods, colors; that sort of thing.
AD: What are the challenges of working with dancers?
Fader: One must have excellent rhythm. That’s of prime importance. Also, being flexible about interpretation. The perfect interpretation on a recording may not be the one that works in a live performance with dancers. Being able to change things quickly and convincingly was also helpful.
AD: What can we expect on your upcoming concerts?
Fader: I haven’t completely decided yet. Probably a mix of old and new. That’s what I always find the most interesting! Maybe even some chamber music.
AD: Well, we will certainly be looking foward to it, whatever it is! Oren, thank you so much for your time.