Portland-based quintet Tango Pacifico was formed in 2001. The group plays a variety of Argentine tango music from the Old Guard (Tango Viego), through the Golden Age, to the modern tangos (Tango Nuevo) of Astor Piazzolla. Their first album, Revirado, features Piazzolla's music, which has become increasingly ubiquitous in the concert halls of the world, yet it is rarely played with the intended instrumentation or with such a high level of stylistic expertise outside of Argentina. Tango Pacifico features members of the Oregon Symphony (Erin Furbee, Assistant Concertmaster and Jeff Johnson, bass), as well as top-notch local musicians (Mika Sunago, piano and John Mery, electric guitar). In addition, San Francisco-based musician Adrian Jost is featured on the principal instrument of tango, the bandoneon. Known to many as the "devil's box" for its difficulty, there are only a small number of technically proficient artists in the U.S., Adrian being one of these few. He is also featured on the bayan on a few of the pieces. The ensemble members have studied this music extensively including numerous stints in Buenos Aires and have worked with Piazzolla's longtime friend, arranger, and cellist Jose Bragato.
More information on the artists:
Erin Furbee joined the Oregon Symphony as Assistant Concertmaster in 2001. Prior to her arrival in Portland, she was a member of the Colorado Symphony for eight years, and she also played with the Milwaukee Symphony for a season. Originally from Chicago, Erin began the violin at age 4 with Rebecca Sandrok; she also studied with George Perlman and Betty Lambert. She attended the University of Michigan, received her Bachelor’s degree in Music from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, and did her graduate work at the University of Minnesota. Erin’s main teachers have been Camilla Wicks, Raphael Fliegal, Jacob Krachmalnick and Roland and Almita Vamos. She has performed as a soloist with the Oregon Symphony, the Colorado Symphony and the University of Minnesota Symphony Orchestras, and in December, 2009, performed the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Yaroslavl Philharmonic in Yaroslavl, Russia.
In addition to her great love for performing classical music, Erin enjoys playing tango music, a passion she developed after first hearing the music of Astor Piazzolla in 1997. While living in Denver, she and fellow bandoneon player Evan Orman co-founded a four piece tango group called Extasis and traveled to Buenos Aires in 1999 to study with musicians in many of the tango orchestras there. She has since made three more journeys to Argentina over the past 5 years, and was very lucky to be able to work with Jose Bragato, Piazzolla's cellist and arranger on a cd project for piano trio called Bragatissimo. In Portland, Erin performs with two tango groups. In 2001, she formed Tango Pacifico, a 5-piece band which specializes in the music of Astor Piazzolla. The group has performed with Fear no Music, on the Chamber Music on Tap series, the Oregon Symphony Gala, and at Tango Berretin for dancers. Tango Pacifico received a grant in 2002 from the Knight Foundation to perform a show of tango and samba music, and released their first album, Revirado, in May 2010. Erin also plays with Orquesta Tipica Krebs (a group formed out of its predecessor, Conjunto Berretin)-an 8 piece ensemble which often performs at milongas for dancers, and has been featured at Portland Tangofest and Valentango.
Erin is also an avid chamber musician and teacher. She was a member of Fear no Music for five seasons, and performed with the Bellingham Chamber Players for many years. She taught a class at Portland State University on orchestral repertoire/auditions, and has given master classes at schools and universities throughout the Oregon area. She enjoys teaching, and maintains a private studio in Portland. Her summers are spent playing at the Belllingham Festival of Music and the Chintimini Festival in Corvallis.
Mika Sunago, a native of Sao Paulo – Brazil, has performed and placed in several national and international competitions throughout Brazil, USA and Japan. Moving to the USA in 1987, Mika Sunago completed her Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Piano Performance and Conducting at Indiana University. Mika has accumulated vast experience in solo and chamber music. During the years when Mika lived in NY city, she was a collaborate pianist for performers such as Leila Josefowicz, Hannah Chang and Christine Walewska. She was also an accompanist for many opera singers from the Metropolitan Opera House. Her performances and interviews of Latin American music have been broadcast in radio and TV programs in the US (NPR), Japan (NHK & ABC), Austria (ORF), Argentina (Solo Tango & RAE) and Brazil (FM Cultura/TV Cultura). Mika has performed chamber music and solo concerts throughout Brazil, Argentina, Japan, and US, including Puerto Rico. Now living in Portland-Oregon, she taught at Reed College for many years and has been soloist with the Columbia Symphony. She has also performed with local groups, such as Third Angle Ensemble, Fear No Music, Portland Opera, Oregon Symphony’s Nerve Endings and Tango Pacifico. In addition to engagements with several groups Mika has collaborated in recordings of many CDs and TV programs of contemporary musicians (Steve Reich, Lou Harrison). Mika has three CDs released: “Between the Tropics” (collections of solo Latin American Piano Music), “Café 1930” (Piazzolla Tangos) and “Bragatissimo” (piano-cello Tangos). A new CD with Tango Pacifico (tango quintets) is scheduled to be available in 2010. Mika is also an oncology Registered Nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, OR.
John Mery was born in Santiago, Chile, grew up in the US and has lived, studied in Europe. John began playing the guitar as a child, and like most guitarists, was originally interested in rock and other popular styles. He discovered the classical guitar after his family moved to Spain when he was eleven; it greatly inspired him. Upon returning to the U.S. he dedicated himself to the study of classical guitar. His skills earned him a scholarship to the guitar program at the University of Arizona where he went on to receive a master’s degree in guitar performance. During his time as a student, John was invited to perform in master classes held by some of the world’s top guitarists, including David Russell, Abel Carlevaro, Oscar Ghilia and Christopher Parkening. He has studied with Thomas Patterson, Steven Saulls, Gerd Wuesteman (Germany), Pedro De Castro (France and Spain) and Carlo Barone (Italy). In 1993 John won the Schaeffer Memorial Guitar Competition. John has performed as a soloist and in ensembles across the U.S., in Europe, and in South America. He moved to Portland, OR in 1999,where he became head of the music program at Portland Community College. Since then, he has become a regular member of the Northwest music scene as he continues to perform and record in a wide variety of genres and styles. He is a founding member of the Oregon Guitar Quartet. John has been playing tango, some of the first music he heard as a child, for a couple decades. He rediscovered tango music through the music of Astor Piazzolla during his college years. John's other passions include gourmet cooking and traveling (he speaks several languages fluently). He shares his time and talent with his wife and two children.
Jeff Johnson was born in 1957 in Missoula, Montana. He graduated from the University of Montana in 1980, and received a Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music in 1982. He also studied for a year at the Cleveland Institute of Music. From 1982 to 1992 he was Principal Bass of the San Antonio Symphony. He has been a member of the Oregon Symphony since 1992. Jeff maintains an active extracurricular performing schedule. He is a member of the Third Angle New Music
Ensemble , Tango Pacifico, and the Sunriver Music Festival Orchestra. In addition, he teaches at the Community Music Center and frequently coaches with youth orchestras. Jeff‘s interests are mostly musical, but he also likes to read, write, hike, and golf. He is married to soprano Janice Johnson, and they have two children, Margaret and Timothy.
Adrian Jost studied music in the French Riviera and his native country, Switzerland. As a young boy , he won the gold medal of the French Association of Accordionists at age 11. This led him to study the
Bayan with composer Fritz Tschannen, Switzerland’s teacher of teachers, and later with world-class performer Stephane Chapuis. He completed a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Yverdon, won the 1996
Landis&Gyr contest , and came to Chicago to work for Siemens. There he discovered
Tango while pursuing a Master’s degree in science at Northwestern University. The high-tech industry brought Adrian to the Silicon Valley where he co-founded Trio Garufa, a tango group that plays for dancers and concerts throughout the San Francisco area. He has traveled to Argentina many times to study with the great bandoneon masters of Buenos Aires, and dances tango as well. He also plays with Tango Pacifico, a five-piece tango group based in Portland , Oregon , which specializes in the music of Astor Piazzolla.