Category: Music


I wonder if there are out there, other people who fear inspiration. I do.

The problem is that I am, artistically, horribly ambitious. I would love to play the piano like Leif Ove Andsnes and direct an orchestra, with the connection, sensitivity and artistic vision he has. I would love to sit at the piano and learn and practice for hours on end. I would like to be a painter, a dancer, an actress, an Opera singer, a clothes designer, and do all of those things to perfection. And it is impossible, unless you don’t do anything else! All of them, full time activities.

And I must write. I must, as you must give birth to a baby you love and want.

I wish I could create and give birth to the nearly limitless art-expression-children of my mind and my heart that I would dream of having.

Perhaps I will re-incarnate into a limitless being with limitless artistic possibilities and limitless time.

But, I do like earth, and my time here… what shall I do?

Write!http://www.theguardian.com/music/tomserviceblog/2015/jul/28/beethoven-leif-ove-andsnes-concertos-mahler-chamber-orchestra#img-1

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Music Matters… to Me

2. Mi Convien Cosi Crepar?
(Is it better that I kick the bucket?

Berta-The Barber of Seville 1984
A face like this, (mine!) very similar to the one that woke me up in the mirror this morning, might call for such drastic measure.

In my case, it only took me to old memory lane and my youthful self, singing the part of Berta from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville with Colombian National Opera Company.

The links below are to the aria, -one for the vocals, one for the looks- as one of the singers sings it beautifully in my view but looks too young, while the other has the looks but… well, it is a matter of opinion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuuruXoFfH4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIXngsbh1jk

Anyway, there are no recordings sung by me as in those days in Colombia (1983-84), live performances weren’t recorded. Even when, as it was the case with this tour, I had the honour of singing alongside Luigi Alva, -one of Maria Callas’ famous tenor partners,- and Thomas Hampson (1983-84)!

Luigi and Thomas were at the opposite ends of their musical careers: Luigi was 56 by the time he sang with me, but still in great voice and physical agility. The role of Count of Almaviva requires that to make of it a great comical, lively character, and Luigi was a real master! The rest of soloists and choristers were often in stitches watching him from the wings. He was also a wonderful team player. He always treated me –I was the youngest and, by far, the less experienced of all the soloists – with both, respect and forbearance. More than once he prompted me into the stage when my queue arrived and gave me plenty of discreet but extremely useful advice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi_Alva

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xqRx5ggOqs

an incredibly old and terrible recording but you can still appreciate his voice and acting. His coloraturas are divine. Very similar to the voice of another famous Peruvian tenor, Juan Diego Florez. What’s with Peruvians and those incredibly high voices? Incredibly high mountains?

Thomas Hampson, 29 at the time was at the start of what would become a very successful career. If you are into any vocal classical music, you will have heard of him. His versatile voice and personality and his curious mind have driven him to perform all sorts of music from the XVIII to the XXI centuries as far as I know. Have a look at this link.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/opera–tall-dark-and-hampson-thomas-hampson-is-the-thinking-mans-baritone-equally-at-ease-in-everything-from-mahler-to-american-musicals-but-asks-edward-seckerson-isnt-he-just-a-bit-too-good-to-be-true-1368226.html

He had the biggest bottom I’ve even seen in a man, made look bigger by the fact that with his height, 6’4, it was far closer to my eyes than his head was! He was just as handsome as he is nowadays, but he had long curly hair, that gave him more angelic, yet, less sexy looks. He was also as kind and interesting as the article says.

Well… that was an unexpected trip down memory lane… I think I can afford that. If you managed to read till here, you also afforded it!

Till next time.

  1. The Fly in the Soup of Perfection

Yes, music matters a great deal to me. It has been an addiction.

On a good day, I will tell you it has given me great joy and heavenly pleasure. But don’t ask me on a bad day, or I will tell you about the enormous trials, tribulations and frustration of considering myself an unsuccessful, failed musician.

Unsuccessful and failed, not only, because it looks as if I never made it – at my age I’m not very likely to get anywhere with it, – but more importantly, because of the impossibly elusive nature of achieving musical perfection, even as a passer-by.

Unfortunately, when you sing or play an instrument, a wrong note, a note produced without the right musicality, the right tone, the perfect tuning, the perfect rhythm, can leave a feeling similar to having found a pebble in your pie or a fly in your soup. You can crack a teeth or feel nauseous.

Sadly, music happens in time, at a particular instant. Once done, it seems you can’t change the fate of it. Of course, I know you can practice and correct, but that moment, that opportunity to reaching perfection, has gone for ever.

So often, the hundreds of hours of practice are ruined by a second of fear. In my case, as soon as I know someone is listening, I become self-conscious and that is the end of the game: the end of pleasure, elation and of course the end of the possibility of achieving the perfect sound, the perfect expression.

Our brain, like an unconscious fly, stops for a millisecond on the dangerous tightrope of a whiff of air, to ponder on the soup, on its possible dangers, rewards and delights … and falls into the soup! to a certain death: artistic death.

In a way, I am very grateful for my failure as a musician. Certainly, if I had been successful as an opera singer or a pianist, which would have been my two main ambition as a musician, I might not be writing.

Thank God, a writer is something I am. Music is just an addiction.

So, today I’ll try to celebrate with a smile, the fly in my soup and my failure as a musician.

But as I often say… if you have to try, you are not doing it!!