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15 Questions to Pedro Carneiro

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Greetings! I am very well (a litte cold) and in Groningen, in Holland.

What’s on your schedule right now?
I am on my way to teaching a masterclass in The Hague Conservatory, after having done a workshop on rhythm to the dancer of the NND/Galili Dance. Lots of fun – and after this, back to Lisbon, in order to pack to Estonia, where I am recording a CD with concerti by Toru Takemitsu, with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Olari Elts.

Can you still remember the first time you heard a piece of classical music?
No, because that was my father practising the Hummel trumpet concerto when was still in my mother’s woomb. Still love that piece, I wonder why? :-)

What was the deciding moment, which made you want to become an artist?
I am not sure – but I spent most of my childhood hanging around artist’s entrance, opera pits, rehearsal rooms, concert halls: travelling with my dad. So I suppose it came to me naturally, in some way or another.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
 Hardest part of being a musician is being a MUSICIAN. Takes hard work, dedication, love, truck loads of integrity, stubbornness, inventiveness. The best part is the joy of music itself and of a great, fulfilling performance, when things worked out as if by magic!

Do you consider it important that more young people care for classical music? If so, how, do you think, could this be achieved?
Of course it's important - classical music and art in general. It's in our hand, as musicians, artists, etc to make sure we have the joy of explaining and sharing the process to others. Take Bernstein's NY Phil concerts broadcast on TV decades ago: they fostered new audiences, featured great music played wonderfully, presented new artists to a new audience (such as such as teenager Barenboim and others) and the shows were incredibly cool and masterly presented by Bernstein: a phenomenal communicator and musician.

How would you rate the importance of the internet and new media for classical music?
Any media which provides easy, affordable access to culture and great art is of paramount importance.

With so many different recordings of a particular piece available – how do you keep yours fresh and different?
You go back to the score and try, deeply and uniquely, understand and sense what the composer meant. The score is a wonderful tool and expressive medium - but one has to be able to read into its many-layered contents, messages, secret codes. Unveiling them is an eternal bliss.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
A performances which is truly honest is always good. Honesty and great music go together - but phenomenal musicianship is a crazy mix of unknown ingredients. My good friend, New Zealand composer John Psathas says that great performers have a X-Factor. I agree. Something unexplainable by words... or at least known words to us.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
Unravelling, unfolding: in allurement...

How do you balance the need to to put your personal emotions into the music you play and the intentions of the composer?

The intentions of the composer will become my personal emotions, if the composer is engaged enough to write something which can delve into the depths of humanity. Then, the performer is moved to enter this world and to mutate into the flow of the work, the composer. But one must have a cultural background, a need to cultivate a technique that can serve the work at all times. A technique based in the realms of generosity.

What’s your view on the relationship between musical education and classical music?
It depends, there are countries with great musical education and others which simply don't. Portugal for instance, is the perfect environment for spreading an indifference to classical music, since it wasn't in the curriculum in school - or it was, it was only for a couple of years of blowing a recorder 45 minutes a week...

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
I am the artistic director of an orchestra - the Portuguese Chamber Orchestra. For this season we have the following composers: Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven, Bomtempo, Britten, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Elliot Carter, Xenakis, Varèse, Ligeti and Emanuel Nunes. Eclectic approach and we have a 20th/21st Century work in EVERY concert.

How would you describe the relationship with your instrument?

Love - Hate. The perfect relationship! But most importantly, I am never indifferent to it.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
I played trumpet as kid - no chops alas. Cello also, I was always playing pizz in a rather percussive style as well as having a love for playing al talone, which managed to damage my bow!

Picture by markus Bechtle

Crazy Mallets/Portuguese Music for Marimba (Deux Elles) 2003
Improbable Transgressions (Sirr) 2007
Psathas – Kartsigar (Battle Records) 2007
Brad Bodine: Kaleidoscope: Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra (MMC) 2008

Pedro Carneiro

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