(Hugo Vasco Reis will be performing tomorrow at the Menezes Braganza Hall Panjim Goa India at 7.30 pm)
Tell me about your introduction to music. How young where you? How and why did you start? Do you come from a musical family?
I would like to start by thanking the interest for my work. Ever since the word was out about the concert I’ve been contacted and it seems to have caught some interest! I’m flattered!
Answering your question, my journey in music started in a very “uncommitted” way, so to speak. When I was about 13 or 14 years old my parents gave me an acoustic guitar. As there is no tradition of music in my family, I soon was stuck and didn’t´t know how to grow beyond a certain point. In my hometown there were no reference schools of music, so I turned to some friends who seemed to know more than me for help. Although with very little method, I dedicated some hours of my day to music trying to play my favorite songs.
2. How did you get interested in jazz?
When I finished high school I went to Porto do study civil engineering. Porto is a city with a rich musical culture on offer and I decided to study music in a much more serious way. The Porto Jazz School was a great opportunity to my growth as a musician. I remember how excited I was hearing guitar players like Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, pianists like Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington or sax players like Charlie Parker among so many more…
3. Explain how you made the jump from this Portuguese guitar?
The jump from the jazz guitar to Portuguese guitar happened by mere chance! An old man, a friend of my family, lent me one at some point. When I got home I started trying to explore it; its sounds and techniques and actually gave up quite quickly as I knew no one who could help me, who could play the Portuguese guitar. Just a few days later, a friend told me the application for Portuguese Guitar lessons at the Porto Music School had started and because it was starting at the school, it might be easier to be accepted… and so it happened! At the last possible day to apply I went and did the interview and rhythmic tests, as well as melodic and harmonic tests. As I didn’t know how to actually play the instrument, I was dismissed from that task! I waited outside for a few minutes and a teacher came to me telling me I had been accepted but had to run to the secretary as it was the last day to formalize my application and it would close in a few minutes! I didn’t look back…!
I was the first student to graduate from Portuguese guitar at the school. The interest and motivation towards the instrument kept growing and I knew I had found my instrument.
4. Tell us a little about HVR the composer. Was it difficult to get started in this process?
My will to compose is very connected to the years I studied at the jazz school as improvising is composing. Composing in real time, with the resources that you dominate in one precise moment.
The need to write my own compositions came recently as I started to feel I was running out of memory for all my ideas and didn’t want to lose them. It starts with a simple gesture. It can be a single note, simple melody, a chord… which is then developed according to the taste and intellectual capacity of each one of us. Above anything else, a lot of work and dedication is required. As Stravinsky said “Just as appetite comes from eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is not discernible at the beginning”.
5. You have so far written compositions for guitar, piano, string quartet. Are you contemplating writing for bigger forces (orchestra, opera) at some point?
My process as a composer is fairly new. At the moment I prefer to compose for solo instruments or chamber music.
Nevertheless one of my ambitions for the future is to be able to compose for film soundtracks!
6. Tell us a little about the composition (Suite no. 1 for Portuguese guitar) that you will perform in Goa. What inspired it? Is there one unifying melodic theme that runs through it, or is each movement independent from the other?
The basis for this composition, for me, was the sound of 20th century music as a main reference. All the used resources, throughout the four movements intend to give a harmonic idea with constant use of dissonance and atonality.
It presents an ordered structure with frequent changes of rhythm, tempo and theme. Movements are brief and expressive, in which the melodic speech is frequently disrupted. It begins and ends with a chord followed by harmonic.
It will be for sure the most difficult music to hear due to its contemporary characteristics in comparison to the rest of the program.
7. In all your roles as a musician (performer, composer, teacher) is there one that you enjoy most, or do you love them all equally?
As a musician and a composer I feel more “free” as I rely only in myself. I’m the only one accountable for. I can organize my working methods as I feel they will work best and give more productivity. It is a very individual process that suits me quite well.
As a teacher I depend on the students’ interest and motivation. It is very gratifying when they’re interested but can on the other hand be frustrating if that doesn’t happen.
I enjoyed very much answering this interview.
Thank you for everything.