Classical physicists

28 October 2008

The Orchestre Symphonique de Genève (courtesy of website)

ATLAS collaborators Pippa Wells and Diego Casadei are SCT project leader and coordinator of the ATLAS missing transverse-energy trigger slice, respectively. However, both share their musical sides as members of the Orchestre Symphonique de Genève, playing violin and clarinet. On November 23rd, they will play a concert at Victoria Hall featuring Brahms Concerto for Violin and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan”.

Most of the musicians fall under the term “amateur” – “which means that they have other jobs, not that they are not good players,” Diego is quick to point out. Apart from high energy physicists, the orchestra boasts doctors, historians, students, diplomats, and yes, even a few full-time musicians.

The Orchestra shares CERN’s penchant for international collaboration, with players from most European countries as well as some from Asia and North America.

Diego only has time to practice a few hours per week outside of the rehearsals, which happen once or twice weekly. “If I had time enough, I would play at least 1 hour per day, all days. It's the continuity that makes the difference,” says Diego.

And he knows what it takes, having played, “since ever!” At 18, he earned the highest clarinet degree in his native Italy. He gave up being a musician because he realised that he would have to leave his mother country, so he calls it an “irony of destiny” that he is now working for New York University, based at CERN.

Even with his sharply-honed skill, Diego finds the orchestra’s programme ambitious. “There are many points in which single instruments or small subsets have difficult passages, alternated with full sessions in which many melodic lines are carried on by different orchestral sections,” he says of the Mahler symphony.

He is impressed with director Hervé Klopfenstein’s ability to keep control of the complex Mahler symphony. The orchestra must master the pieces in just 15 to 18 rehearsals.

If you are interested in hearing your collaborators play with the Orchestre Symphonique de Genève, you can contact Diego or Pippa before the end of October for tickets at a small discount. As of the 10th of November, you can buy them for 15 to 45 francs at Théâtre de l‘Alhambra, Arcade du Pont de la Machine, Maison des Arts du Grütli, and the Office of Tourism.

Or, if you can’t make the concert and would like to sample some of Diego’s sounds, check out his website.


Katie McAlpine

ATLAS e-News