“It’s been brewing for a long time.”
Ben Folds is talking about his first piano concerto. Before our breakfast conversation is over, we’ll have discussed photography, crickets and how much Lil Wayne has in common with Beethoven.
But, for now, back to Ben and another meal—this time it was dinner with Paul Vasterling of the Nashville Ballet—that ended with a commissioned concerto.
“It all made sense for me, and I just said ‘yeah,’” Folds says, because Nashville’s the sort of place where meetings like that, ideas like that and enthusiasm about art like that happens.
Folds grew up playing in orchestras as a percussionist. Then came the Ben Folds Five and that infamous “Brick,” followed by solo albums and tours playing with symphony orchestras.
“If I strung together all the instrumental sections of all the records I’ve ever made—just played them on the piano—you’d hear,” Folds says. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I’ve been doing that the whole time.’ Listen to the piano solo on the song ‘Boxing.’ Listen to the piano solo on ‘Selfless, Cold and Composed.’”
When Folds began playing with symphony orchestras, he knew it was an investment that meant it wasn’t going to be something he did for a year before moving on.