Quarantunes with the PSO's Kyle Mustain | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Quarantunes with the PSO's Kyle Mustain

click to enlarge Kyle Mustain, Principal English Horn for Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra - PHOTO: ED DEARMITT/PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Photo: Ed DeArmitt/Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Kyle Mustain, Principal English Horn for Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
We're stuck at home. Musicians are stuck at home. We're looking for entertainment. Musicians are looking to entertain. So City Paper is working with Pittsburgh artists and bands to bring you Quarantunes, a series of at-home performances to bring a little enjoyment to your day.

Say hello to Kyle Mustain, the Principal English Horn for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. For today's quarantunes, he submitted an audio file performing "The Swan of Tuonela" by Jean Sibelius from back in October.

Mustain is from Oregon, where he also served as the Principal English Horn at the Oregon Symphony for eight years. Additionally, Mustain is a member of the Portland-based band Pink Martini, which combines pop, jazz, and classical music and has a dozen musicians with songs in more than two dozen languages.

Classical music has taken Mustain across the world, from Brazil where he was the English horn soloist with the Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais, to Santa Fe, Los Angeles, Atlanta Symphony, Houston, Indianapolis, and Switzerland.

Listen to his performance below, and find out more about the globe-trotting musician. 

Kyle Mustain: "The Swan of Tuonela" by Jean Sibelius


What has your typical day looked like since the stay-at-home order?
My girlfriend and I have kept a routine that includes yoga, meditation, and finding places outside the city where we can explore nature. I have also been using this time to work on oboe and English horn reeds, which I make from start to finish and require hours of work each day. While we miss performing, this time has allowed us to simplify our daily routines and focus on what is most important to us: our family and friends.

With more than a dozen musicians in the band, how has Pink Martini been staying connected?
Like everyone else, Pink Martini has had to postpone many concerts around the country during this time. Our fearless leader, Thomas Lauderdale, is at home in Portland, and with the band staff working from home, he is personally sending out all album orders and writing personal notes! I know the whole band is looking forward to returning to perform concerts, as are all of my colleagues in the Pittsburgh Symphony. In fact, Pink Martini would very much like to perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony in the near future!


Name a piece of music that brings solace during this time.
I whistle and sing around the house (and dance in my underwear) throughout the day, especially early in the morning, which I really like but can drive my girlfriend crazy. She asks me to "ease into the morning" on a regular basis. I'm working on it. On a serious note, my colleagues in the Pittsburgh Symphony have been posting homemade videos of short performances on the symphony website, since we cannot perform at Heinz Hall. It has been great to see and hear them.

You've played all over the world in places such as Brazil, Santa Fe, Switzerland, and more. If you could go back to one of those locations to perform, where would you go?
I love all of those places. They are so different from each other. I would like to return to all of them! We also want to visit Japan, Mexico, and Madagascar and have just put up a world map on the wall to pin places we have been and want to visit.

What's been your favorite meal to cook recently?
I have been cooking every day! Who knew that cooking black beans in a pressure cooker would taste so much better than canned black beans!?

When's the last time you spoke in a different language? What was the conversation about?
I learned Portuguese while living in Brazil but don't have much opportunity to practice it. I do sing a song in Armenian with Ari Shapiro from NPR and Pink Martini band member Timothy Nishimoto, which is on our studio album Je dis oui! I have also been practicing Spanish on the awesome Duolingo app, which I only recently learned is headquartered in Pittsburgh.



What's one piece of advice you would give to young musicians?
Never give up pursuing something if you believe in it!

Anything else you feel is important to know?
Don't stockpile toilet paper and please text me when the liquor store opens again.

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