Neo-Classical Composer Gaby Kapps talks about how she is searching for musical nuances, what it means to work with the light and shades and how she creates musical moments of beauty
My heart has always beat along with music, ever since I was a small child. My mother had a very beautiful soprano voice and often sang italian opera in the house while doing her housework. My father was a musically sensitive man who often listened to his vinyl records, while reading or taking a nap. His taste was various. From the classics to the great old jazz ballad singers, like Nat King Cole. I grew up with music surrounding me. I would stop in my steps when I heard some sort of melody or musical sound, and I would listen to it dreamily.
Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?
I think fantasy has a lot to do with it. It is the spurt towards creativity that animates a composer or artist. Emotion, inclination, sensitivity, a sense of rhythm and acoustic architecture, plus culture and education is the recipe that makes each composer or artist what he/she is. Talent constitutes a good 70% of the picture, but it is not enough.
If you were not a professional musician, would would you have been?
A journalist, author, professor or writer perhaps. I love history, philosophy, I like to analyse current events and facts, I read a lot. And literature is my other passion. I have always loved teaching and mentoring too.
The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?
I wouldn’t say it’s getting old. It is getting ‘different’, both in good ways and bad. Perhaps the aggressively visual world is interfering with classical music, and the purely utilitarian also. The international crisis is not helping the situation, since the classical world is under subsidized and needs more financial support, which is being denied daily. We are beset with problems. But there are many, many youths in the world of classical music. Who flag a completely different ‘style’ or approach to it.
What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21 century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?
Oh yes, and my precedent reply mentions this strongly. Great transformation. First of all, a concert now stands on less ideal legs. It must be commercially viable. It must be visually enticing. And we are wrestling with the sceptre-holding virtual world, where everything is obtainable with a click of an app or the pressing of a keyboard.
When I say that classical music is searching for new ways or that the classical music is getting a new face, what would come to your mind.
Ah! Perhaps Cameron Carpenter first, then Yuja Wang and Khatia Butianshvili.
Even Eric Whitacre with his Virtual Choir, an international choral experiment using the web which I find to be a brilliant initiative with an even more brilliant result.
Do you think that the classical musician today needs to be more creative? What’s the role of creativity in the musical process for you?
Classical music is already incorporating what it would never have in the past. Electronic music, collaborations with other music genres, unions of ethnic and classical, and the video dimension, with more and more classical musicians appearing in music videos, a thing which was exclusive territory of pop and rock music.
Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generations into the classical music concerts? How will you proceed?
Well, as I said, visuals seem to be of great importance nowadays. Perhaps less sterile academicism would help? Classical music should not look down on her audience, nor make it so very difficult for listeners to appreciate its inherent beauty.
Tell us about your creative process. Do you have your favourite piece (written by you) How did you start working on it?
Well, I find all my compositions to be diverse facets of myself, so I like (sometimes, in a fit of self-doubt, I may even hate them) them in general. But my favourites are My Obsessive Fantasy for String Quartet in three movements, and my Nocturne Nr. 2 in B flat Minor called ‘A Dialogue in the Night’ for piano solo. They represent me quite well.
We, Moving Classics TV, love the combination of classical music with different disciplines: music and painting, music and cinematography, music and digital art, music and poetry. What do you think about these combinations?
I am not a purist in music. I love all these forms of art and I tend to accost my music-making to images and ideas. The arts enhance EACH OTHER, with stunning results. I have embarked on a task of writing some piano preludes inspired by Poets or Poetry. Hoping I can get some contemporary poets to participate in my venture. Poetic Preludes. I think it sounds promising. The first exists already. I called it ‘Remembrance Prelude’. There are two which a lady well-known to you will be playing soon, inspired by the ancient Greek Poet Sappho.
Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?
Every new discovery must start from a simple premise I think. First they must begin by discovering the music inside them. Through their voice. The very first instrument of music that humanity has been endowed with. For me, singing is an indispensable starting point to approach instrumental music. Singing in a good choir refines the ear and musical taste. After which you can start to learn an instrument which inspires you, but I would strongly insist that youth music schools be welcoming and mentors be sensitive and charismatic people that guide young learners along with passion and creativity.
The family’s choice and taste in music helps also.
Now it is a common practice in the media to talk about classical music getting into the consumption business, do you agree? We are speaking about the supply and demand rules and how to sell your “product” in your case your compositions. How do you see it?
Alas, it is so. Idealism is vanishing and utilitarianism is predominating. And this is a contradiction in terms you see, because art is quite the contrary of anything utilitarian. Music especially is an evanescent thing that appeals directly to our emotional spectrum; it does not produce, it not corporeal. It is recorded of course and then rendered commercial, but it continues to be something immaterial that needs a means-either human or artificial-to come alive and audible. Music was the main means of worship in the past (it still is in a way) so its scope was that of imploring a deity who would be moved by our beautiful petition through song and music.
Now we must ‘sell’ ourselves. Doesn’t it sound…sad? We must recur to marketing or milk an aspect of ourselves that will attract attention. We women fall easily into the rhetoric of sex appeal in this case. Our physical aspect is a factor that is easily speculated upon.
Do you have expectations what regards your listeners, your audience?
That they can relate and appreciate my music, and want to listen to it again.
And again. That they can understand and comprehend it. And feel ultimately attracted to it.
Music is, after all, communication. Not of concepts, but of emotions. Of sheer living and sentience. Of moments of beauty. It accompanies us in all times of our life.
What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?
Projects? Well, each and every one of my new compositional ventures is a project and an experiment. I like to work with light and shades, and search for musical nuances.
I like to paraphrase my passion through my notes. I need my heart to beat strongly when I compose, and my mind to wander.