Ivan talks about his complete dedication to be a musician and why classical music will never be outdated.
To answer this question, I must quote Nadia Boulanger: “Do not take the path of music unless you’d rather die than not to do so”. Music is tautological to my existence, it goes beyond having a meaning for me because it gives me meaning and purpose. Music is the absolute as it has the power to penetrate the human nature and transform it.
Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?
Oxford Dictionary defines fantasy as the faculty or activity of imagining impossible or improbable things. I do believe that music is absolute reality; it is one of the purest voice of our humanity, our consciousness. If something I believe if far from impossible or improbable, is Music. Now, that said, to achieve music, I think is necessary to have utmost honesty while embarking on a voyage through an internal and “idealistic” realm. When composing or performing, one needs to almost step into a fantasy or a dream to grab from that consciousness world what will be later materialized. But in the end, composing, conducting or performing, that fantasy that we experience is nothing more than a deep mirror in which we see or search for the reflection of our existence.
If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?
It is very hard, and even frightening to think about a possible alternate life without music as my life’s path. But if that was absolutely necessary, I think I would be a philosophy professor, a chef or a penman. Often times I find myself enjoying the process of deep thinking, I consider is necessary to understand oneself, others and the world that surrounds us. Moreover, I do aim my life’s journey to knowledge and wisdom; two things that I know are unattainable in their wholeness in principle. Also, I absolutely enjoy cooking, I believe is a selfless craft, just as music. I think that is what I like so much about the culinary world. And, penmanship… I believe is an absolutely beautiful art, forgotten but beautiful.
The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?
Absolutely! But I’m not worried about the audience getting old, or about music disappearing because of the evident lack of support. Music is part of what makes a human what it is; music will always be there as long as humans roam the Earth. But I do fear the lack of education concerning what music is and its importance in our development, sense of meaning, cultural identity and health among other things. I am sure that music will not disappear, is far too definitive of our existence, but it concerns me the future of its support system, we must act with urgency to design an updated sustainable support mechanism for the continuity of music.
What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21th century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?
I don’t consider myself to be a purist, but I do not believe the role of classical music has ever changed nor it will change. I think that in the midst of a cultural makeover and globalizing world we have tried to present classical music in many different and creative ways, but its role and purpose, I believe continues to be the same. In the end, music is a metaphysical manifestation of our innermost being, expressed to touch and transform our soul. There is nothing else that can achieve that level of consequence and because of that I think that the role or purpose of classical music will maintain being as it has been.
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?
Integration, education and equality. Those are the things that come to mind. When we talk about the “face” of classical music, it is unavoidable to talk about marketing and outreach. Classical music has long been labeled as outdated, yet every time a person is willing to receive it, his/her life changes. It is more than evident than the face of classical music has been changing and needs to continue its metamorphosis. But this needs to happen with the understanding of what it is, its importance, its effects, its meaning. We continue to perform the classics, but we also have never stopped to create the new, all this while continuing to the honest expression capable of affecting people… So, classical music, in essence, will never be outdated, and its face has to display that.
Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generation into the classical music concerts? How will you proceed?
The answer to this quintessential question is education. But we need to disassociate the concept of education with the classroom. As musicians, it’s our responsibility to reengage people to the concert hall not only in a “music appreciation class” but everywhere. There have been many years of traditions, rather strict ones, that tend to intimidate concertgoers. Furthermore, classical music is not in the ears of everyone now-a-days due to different profit-generating frameworks that have risen. Classical music has been forced to operate under those frameworks. Clearly, that system is not working for art music. There is when the education play its role. We need to educate, talk, motivate people into understanding the “Why” of music. We need to enthusiastically share what we do not as an elitist thing but as a welcoming art form that exists to talk to you and to make you transcend, to help you know yourself better than you thought you did. And finally, us as musicians, we need to understand and remember that what we do is a selfless art; we do wat we do for others, and when that changes, we fail.
Tell us about your creative process.
Describing my composition process is difficult and easy at the same time. I could say that I just write down what is sounding in my head, but also, I could say that whatever will end on the paper, starts to “brew” inside my head (and heart) based on experiences, ideas, events, deep thoughts and, most importantly, my humanity and its emotions. Now, if we go to the actual “physical” craft; my composition process is direct. I go straight to the “paper” without any instrument as an intermediary; as I say poetically: “I compose as if someone or something were whispering in my ear delicately every note I have to write.” I have always done it that way, but also when you go directly to paper, you find yourself writing for each and every instrument you choose to write for, instead of writing the translation that the piano (or any other instrument used for the composition process) might give you, even more so if you are composing for other instruments that are not played with a keyboard. That said, using any instrument for the composition process, as Stravinsky said, is also an absolutely effective and practical way to compose. Once we go out of all the technical “stuff” surrounding the composition process, I believe that the best way to describe my process is with the word Honest, that is what I aim for always, to be honest and to pour myself on each note.
Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?
Just to listen. Explore classical music and listen. If you want to enter this fantastic and enriching world, just listen to the music and listen to yourself. You’ll find yourself experiencing things you’d never thought possible just by opening yourself up and letting music affect you in your innermost being. You’ll end up knowing yourself better than before and seeing life through new eyes. It is absolutely exciting!