PODCAST: Music saved my life; LB Symphony’s Eckart Preu, Camerata Singers James Bass

On Episode #16 of “CAN YOU HEAR ME, LONG BEACH? No artform hits us deeper, sparks more memories, inflames more passion, or arguments, than music. We talked to two men—Eckart Preu of the Long Beach Symphony and James Bass of the Camerata Singers—who say music saved their lives, in a very real, “If not for it, I may not be here today,” kinda way.

Of course, music has also become their livelihoods, and we spoke of how they go about doing that every day. Both men took over their present positions in 2017 and each is about to launch a new season; Long Beach Symphony opens Sept. 28, the Camerata Singers first performance is Oct. 13.

We first spoke with Eckart Preu (pronounced PROY), music director of the Long Beach Symphony. If you’ve only experienced Preu conducting on stage then your impressions are of an imposing, what the New York Times called, “fiery” individual. When he conducted Beethoven’s Ninth, last spring, we wrote that he attacked Beethoven’s masterpiece as if “it had run over his dog.”

Long Beach Symphony Music Director Eckart Preu, directing Beethoven’s Ninth. Photo courtesy of LB Symphony/Facebook.

But meeting Eckart Preu is a whole other thing; he’s funny and personable. We spoke to him about not only the art of conducting but the business of it that means you can’t always be as friendly as you’d like. We also talked about his growing up in East Germany and how music got him through that, alive. Oh, and for a few glorious moments, we spoke of Sade.

Like Preu, James Bass gets it. Approachable and funny, he understands better than most that music not only has the power to change lives but to do it in a moment because it changed the course of his life in an instant in grade school. Music eventually delivered him from a hard-scrabble life in Florida that he says he’s not sure he would have survived.

Bass, who also teaches singing at UCLA, is artistic director of the Camareta Singers, the classical music choir that performs on its own and with local music outfits such as the LB Symphony and Musica Angelica. We spoke with him about musical salvation, the unique pull of the human voice and what a good time it is to be a singer.

0:40 Ekart Preu shares how music saved his life and became his livelihood

2:50 That time he scared the hell out of that singer

34:54 Steve and Ekart have a moment, A Sade moment

39:40 James Bass talks about how he went from growing up in Florida to directing the Camerata Singers

1:19:22 What sound is that, Steve?

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Steve Lowery began his journalism career at the Los Angeles Times, where he planned to spend his entire career. God, as usual, laughed at his plans and he has since written for the short-lived sports publication The National, the L.A. Daily News, the Press-Telegram, New Times LA, the District and the OC Weekly. He is the Arts & Culture Editor for the Post, overseeing the Hi-lo.
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