Queensland Symphony Orchestra: Joe Chindamo Hits Fever Pitch

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  • Wednesday, 12 April 2017 15:24
Published in Arts  
Pianist Joe Chindamo is joined by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra for the world premiere of his daring new piece as part of the show ‘Fever Pitch’.

Inside Joe Chindamo’s head lies a restless mind. Joe has a need to explore new creative directions: “It seems to be the modus operandi of my life: as soon as I get to a high level with something I go look for something else that might scare me,” he explains.

Joe’s journey has now taken him to some of the world’s greatest stages, including Brisbane’s Powerhouse where he will debut a new piece as part of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra show ‘Fever Pitch’. Joe has been performing music since the age of six, becoming as he humbly describes “for want of a better word, I guess I was kind of sort of a child prodigy” on his first instrument, the accordion.

At 21, Joe moved on, teaching himself jazz piano. His mastery of the instrument saw him quickly touring with jazz groups, and playing on soundtracks for films such as ‘Evil Angels’ and the Chuck Norris feature ‘Missing In Action 2’. For ‘Fever Pitch’, the QSO will play four new pieces by different composers, including the world premiere of Joe’s piece ‘FANTASKATTO’. ‘FANTASKATTO’ came to be thanks to QSO’s Artistic Director Richard Wenn.

Edicson Fever
Edicson Ruiz on Double Bass

After hearing Joe’s daughter, skat singer Olivia Chindamo, he commissioned Joe to write a piece for her. Joe explains that the title of the piece sums up its sound. “[Olivia’s skat] is why it’s ‘FANTASKATTO’ with a k. It’s also a fantastical word; very magical and mysterious at times. I thought it was quite fantastical. I don’t know of any other piece quite like this; it could very well be unique.”

Although Joe’s background is in jazz, he doesn’t see ‘FANTASKATTO’ as “a classical theme and jazzing it up. In cross genre you can actually pinpoint where one style stops and the other takes over. In my mind, it all comes from the same place – a C chord in Beethoven is exactly the same as a C chord in an Elton John song. I never quite understood this idea of sticking to one particular genre for your entire life, but that’s just me.”

One of the biggest changes for Joe was working with his daughter, something he’s never done before, “partly by design”. Despite their working together being an outside suggestion, Joe and Olivia “grabbed it with both arms”. Joe is full of praise for his daughter and her talent.


“A lot of jazz singers will go ‘dooby-dooby-dooby’, and it sounds more like a gesture that has very little to do with the harmonic structure of the piece. It’s not the case with a good skat singer, and certainly not the case with Olivia, who basically can negotiate through the harmonic fabric with expertise of a great instrumental soloist. She can make up all sorts of intricate melodies on the fly on any different harmonic background. She’s really like a vocal instrumentalist, like a clarinettist who can improvise and then play in the orchestra, except it’s a voice.”

Like a proud father, Joe is especially excited to what his daughter does with his work.

“I’ll have two babies there. I’ll have the musical one, and I’ll be able to see my real one, who is now a grown woman, take my new baby and do something wonderful with it.”

‘Fever Pitch’ plays Brisbane Powerhouse on 29 April.

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