A Trip Around the World in Your Living Room: Music + Drink Pairings with Mark Nuccio, Principal Clarinet

A Trip Around the World in Your Living Room: Music + Drink Pairings with Mark Nuccio, Principal Clarinet

The Houston Symphony presents the second installments of its new Living Room Series, a response to home isolation and social distancing, on May 8. Mark Nuccio, principal clarinet, teamed up with some creative friends to make his recital extra special: on Friday, viewers can take a trip around the world through drinks paired with each work Mark performs.

Mark’s program highlights different regions through works by Bach, Debussy, Paquito, D’Rivera, and even a solo homage to Richard Strauss. Friends Richard Regan and Michael Gorman, a wine enthusiast and the Houston Symphony’s orchestra personnel manager, suggested themed cocktails and wine pairings.

Read the wine and cocktail pairings for Mark’s recital—including recipes! Hear more from Mark below, then grab a passport for the inspiration behind this crafty marriage of music, travel, and libations.

The Widow’s Kiss cocktail, picked to pair with Debussy.

Houston Symphony: In this time of social distancing, it goes without saying that traveling is on hold. Are these program selections your take on a vacation, quarantine style? What inspired your choices?
Mark Nuccio: My inspiration for this came from multiple tours around the world with the New York Philharmonic, which made me realize that the food, cocktails, the wines, and the music are all very different wherever you go. Then, I thought it would be a nice choice to do something that brought the worlds of sound and taste together.

HS: Mixology has really taken off over the last few years and is, in a way, an art form itself. Do you find that combining different art forms adds special value to a performance?
MN: The kind of tastes that exist vary with the ingredients, and my dear friend Richard Regan, brings this element to our evening, similar to what I hope the music will bring to you as well. Rick has been commissioned to create dozens of cocktails for special events, and he was very excited to craft a few for the recital. An accomplished musicians and conductor himself, he matched the pieces’ sounds and compositional qualities with the cocktails’ flavor profiles.

Musician, conductor, and mixology enthusiast Richard Regan, who provides recommendations and recipes for cocktail pairings for Mark’s recital.

HS: You work with our orchestra personnel manager, Michael Gorman, for the wine suggestions. Which of his wine choices are you most looking forward to trying? After your performance concludes, of course!
MN: I made wine for about 10 years in New York with three other Italian buddies using grapes from California. We were very serious about it, experimenting with both French and American oak barrels and keeping each wine in a barrel for two years—a true reserve. Then, a couple of years ago, the Houston Symphony toured Europe, and I realized how accomplished Mike is. His skill with wine nears that of a professional sommelier! It is for that reason that I very curious about the Viennese wines. (Mike recommends the 2017 Wiener Gemischter Satz by Fritz Wieninger and Meinklang Burgenland Red 2017 to pair with the Richard Strauss selection.)

HS: Do you have anything to share with Houston Symphony fans, patrons, and colleagues as we await the orchestra’s return to Jones Hall?
MN: We love making music, and this has made us more keenly aware of how much we are inspired by the interaction of our patrons during our concerts. When this quarantine is over, we will need our patrons more than ever. It is our hearts’ desire to bring music to them with even more passion than before. Thank you for supporting this evening and this new Living Room Series.

The Houston Symphony’s Living Room Series streams live on YouTube each Friday at 8 p.m.!

Mark Bailes

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