CAMINO • Oliver Schroer
A magical record of an ancient pilgrimage. This Canadian composer and violinist extraordinaire is known for his fearless and far flung approach to music and to life, and here we behold a fine marriage of the two.
The story goes that in 815, a hermit was led, by shimmering miraculous lights, to the grave of St. James the Apostle. The bones were identified by the gourd and the scallop shell the apostle always carried. A church was built over the tomb. In the peak days of the pilgrimage, (12th to 15th centuries) hundreds of thousands journeyed to Santiago de Compostela, in Spain.
In May of 2004, the gentle giant and his wife Elena, along with their friends Peter and Diane (who brought lots of old fashioned camera equipment) set off to make this pilgrimage together. Oliver had his fiddle wrapped up in a sleeping bag in his pack, along with two recording setups. One was for his playing, and the other was for all the other elements that make up this singular record: cowbells, cathedral bells, footsteps and various other sounds of nature and humanity.
Along this arduous road through France and Spain, the quartet encountered many old chapels and churches, and it was here that the artist set bow to string, over a two month period. Sometimes he would play to the rafters, other times to a small and gathering crowd. Sometimes he’d get chucked out by a priest thirty seconds into hitting a groove.
And the artist caught some grooves. He’s a very prolific composer that has played with an impressively diverse list of people from many lands. From the very entertaining two part interview of himself at the artist’s website, one quickly gleans the picture of a consummate player who lives and breathes many kinds of music, and whose tastes know no apparent bounds. One also infers that he knows the virtues of silence, the other half of making a beautiful sound.
The beautiful jacket is the work of Michael Wrycraft, the impeccable and irrepressible Canadian designer. His passion for good music is always an inspiration. He had excellent photographs to work with here, thanks to Peter Coffman and Diane Laundy.
Camino is a very special recording, and should be pursued as such. Very highly recommended. • Frank Goodman
oliver photo by the inimitable angela browne