Oregon Symphony


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Musician Moment

Charles Reneau

Bass Trombone

What convinced you that you wanted a career in music?

I didn’t really have a choice; I’m just the latest of a three-generation family of musicians. My mother, my father, my aunt, my grandmothers, my grandfather, my brother and I are all musicians. Several of my cousins play instruments, also. What keeps me going is the cool people that I get to work with. And the hours.

What is on your CD player right now?

Sinner You Better Get Ready by the Packway Handle Band. It’s old-fashioned country style music out of Athens, Georgia. I like that old time sound; if it’s got drums, it ain’t country.

How did you choose your instrument?

I played piano as a child, so when I joined the 8th grade band, I was asked to play the marimba. The keyboard is similar, and the band director sort of thought I’d figure it out. But I just sat there looking dumb for the whole first rehearsal. I could not figure out how to play that thing. So they gave me a trombone.

What is on your nightstand?

My alarm clock. Elsewhere around the house I’ve been reading the Atlas of Oregon, which is a good resource for all sorts of information, both human and physical. It’s got census data relating to subjects like income, race, and occupation, as well as geological and ecological data. I love maps, and I can spend hours looking at good ones. I’ve lived in five states in the last seven years, so having a map helps me know where I am.

What guest artist would you most like to perform with?

Radiohead. I don’t think they do symphony tours, though. I really just want to play my horn while someone screams, “the rain drops” over and over! Barring that, it’d be a blast to play with Medeski, Martin, and Wood, or maybe The Bad Plus. Both are trios that play jazz, funk and rock.

Besides your instrument, what is your most treasured possession?

My glasses. I’d be lost without them. Or maybe my merino wool long sleeve shirt that I take on backpacking and hiking trips. The wool is from a type of sheep raised in New Zealand. Lucky buggers, they are. Their wool is warm when it’s cold out, cool when it’s warm out, and is extremely fast drying. So comfortable! Either that or my bodyboarding fins—classic Churchill Makapu’u fins. I just moved to Portland from Hawaii, and I really treasure being in the ocean.

Posted November 2007
Charles Reneau

Bass trombonist Charles Reneau joined the Oregon Symphony in 2007. He studied performance at the University of Georgia and The Juilliard School, during which time he performed with New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic, among others. When not on stage with the orchestra, he performs solo recitals of music written for other instruments in an effort to expand the limited solo literature of the bass trombone. Born and bred in the Southern Appalachians, Charles is quite comfortable living between the Coast Range and the Cascades.

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