Sitting and chatting with cellist Peter Rejto, one sees an affable, quick-smiling, youngish man who, in his cramped Cal State Northridge studio, always seems to have some musical artifact--an instrument or a score he's rehearsing--within easy reach.
Rejto, who will appear tonight at 8 in the Fine Arts Recital Hall at Orange Coast College, has been performing nationally since age 7 in solo recital, chamber ensembles and concerto appearances.
But somehow, in between the many concerts and an intensive teaching schedule, Rejto, 35, manages to stay in touch with two fascinations of his youth: science and aviation.
"I studied biochemistry in college while keeping my hand in, so to speak, with the cello. It's something I was always fascinated by," Rejto said. "It was perhaps my way of delaying the inevitable, emotional decision to become a professional musician."
And his pilot's license, following up "a lifetime obsession with airplanes," not only helps him get to performances on time--or at least without freeway traffic as an excuse--but also, he said, makes a dandy tax deduction.
"Yes, I must admit it: I am concerned with such things," Rejto said with a smile. But, he added, his initial interest in airplanes had nothing to do with money. "I just loved flying, and would do it on any pretext."
Obviously, Rejto will make music on any pretext as well: In addition to teaching 12 students at Northridge (where he is a full professor), the native Californian is in the midst of a burgeoning career as concerto soloist with orchestras here and abroad. Most recently, he performed the Dvorak and Elgar cello concerti and Richard Strauss' "Don Quixote" with California orchestras.
His performance tonight, with pianist (and fellow Northridge faculty member) Francoise Regnat, will include works by Boccherini, Brahms, de Falla and Schumann--"a very nice, all-purpose program," Rejto said.
And then there's the Los Angeles Piano Quartet, which he joined after a long search for a sympathetic chamber group with which to work.
"I have played chamber music extensively throughout my career so far--I got into Marlboro (Music Festival, in Vermont, which specializes in the chamber repertory) early on, and that helped shape me as a performer. But I was still looking for a group I could really call my own."
Now the quartet takes up a number of weeks of Rejto's busy schedule every year. The Los Angeles Piano Quartet will perform in Great Britain and Ireland this summer, armed with American composer Ingolf Dahl's "Piano Quartet" and a host of other works.
Rejto learned to handle a heavy musical workload early on. His father and principal early teacher is Gabor Rejto, the cellist and professor at USC. But Rejto fils also studied with such teachers as Russian cellist Raya Garbousova, and the master cellists Pierre Fournier and Gregor Piatigorsky.
"I received a lot of musical advice from those sessions," Rejto recalled. "They were responsible for a broadening, a deepening of my musical perspectives and ideas. But my father taught me the basics.
"Part of the science studies were my form of rebellion, I guess," Rejto continued with a shake of his head. "It's hard to learn from a parent when you're a teen-ager--you think you know enough already. I'm just glad my heart won out, and I wound up doing this. It's made for a good life."