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Pianist Andrea Fernandes is in Goa in advance of her concert with Joanne D’Mello, soprano on 2 August 2013 at Kala Academy 6.30 pm. She spoke to the Navhind Times in an exclusive interview.

Welcome back to Goa, Andrea! How does it feel to be back?

It’s always good to come home. It’s been a long time since I visited Goa in the monsoons, though.

How did you and Joanne decide upon the idea of the Goa concert on 2 August 2013?

Joanne and I have remained in touch. She’s in Belgium and I’m in Hungary, so it took some co-ordinating, but we both felt it was something we wanted to do.

I remember how inspired I would be after each classical concert my parents took me to at the Kala, especially if it was a young performer. I would practice with renewed zeal later! Hopefully our concert will have a similar effect on today’s young music students and players.

You both grew up and spent your formative years in Goa, and are now making your mark in the classical music world in Europe. You are therefore huge role models for our youth. You have proved that it’s possible for our youth to aspire to a serious classical music career on the global stage, despite the odds.

I am extremely grateful to Margarida Miranda for her support at such a crucial juncture in my life. Thanks to her that my career path could even begin. But once I was in Europe, I realized I had to work hard, for my own development. I practiced long and hard. And gradually it began to pay off.

Joanne and I have a similar life-story. I’ve accompanied several artistes, but with her it assumes additional significance. We are both returning home, each with fresh perspectives on classical music than we had initially in Goa.

Tell us about the Franz Liszt Academy Budapest and about the latest feather in your cap.

Piano accompaniment is something I always wanted to do from the start. So when I was looking for higher centres of learning, a casual remark by a friend led me to consider the prestigious Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary. It was a long shot, but decided to try anyway. Of all the applicants, I was the only foreigner to get selected!

I was also the only foreigner selected to play at the birth centenary concert of the great Hungarian conductor Sir Georg Solti. It was a tremendous shot in the arm for me!

I auditioned for the post of repetiteur at the Hungarian State Opera House Budapest before I left. The day I reached Goa, I heard I got the job! Again, I was the only foreigner who applied!

Congratulations! What is your job description as repetiteur?

I prepare singers for their operatic roles. I coach them, give them their cues, give them the larger picture as it were.

The job of a repetiteur is virtually entirely backstage. And I like that. What happens onstage is actually the result of our earlier hard work. And this is hugely satisfying.

There are several conductors (notably Antonio Pappano at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden) who began their music careers as repetiteurs. Would you consider conducting as a parallel interest as well?

I am quite interested in this. It is very important to know how to conduct, even as repetiteur.

Where do you go from here?

This (being a repetiteur) is what I really want to do. I’m also very interested in Lieder accompaniment, much more so than accompanying an instrumentalist. This is a change for me, as I was initially interested mainly in accompanying another instrument.

Will we be seeing you less frequently in Goa, now that you’ve got this full-time appointment?

The Goan connection is too strong for that. I’ll certainly continue to visit, and hope I can help make a difference as a pianist, accompanist and choral leader here too.

Do you have advice for our youth?

As a student, I had to submit concert tickets every academic year and my professor would ask me random questions about the concerts. Besides being able to learn so much from other musicians, it is an excellent form of self-motivation. I believe that the youth have to make the best of whatever opportunity comes their way. Don’t limit yourself to simply studying what you are given; try to explore more and go beyond your limits. Sometimes, beyond our limits… there lies our dream. You never know when that opportunity of a lifetime will come. You’ve just got to be ready for it.

Do you think you’ve been lucky, or have you created your own ‘luck’?

I think a little of both. Where there is a will, there is a way. My dad used to say to me “If someone can do it, then you can!”

Sir Georg Solti himself said: “My life is the clearest proof that if you have talent, determination and luck you will make it in the end: never give up!”

(Donation passes are available at Furtados Music stores in Panjim and Margão)

(An edited version of this article appeared in the Navhind Times Goa India on 28 July 2013)

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