Álvaro Pereira (violin) and Pedro Emanuel Pereira (piano) are two young Portuguese musicians (28 and 24 years respectively) visiting Goa under the patronage of the Consul General of Portugal Rui Baceira. They spoke about their concert at the Kala Academy Dinanath Mangueskar auditorium (Saturday 23 May 2015, 7 pm, open to the public) in an exclusive interview to the Navhind Times
Welcome to Goa! Tell us a little about yourself, Álvaro. What made you take up the violin?
AP: My parents are not musicians. As a child, I wanted to learn guitar or piano, but as there were no places available at school for these instruments but violin, I took up violin instead. I began learning violin at eight. I continued my studies at the Specialised School of Music (Artave) in Esmae, Oporto and finally at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, St. Petersburg under Alexandre Stang, where I graduated with the highest score.
And you, Pedro?
PP: My parents are not musicians either, but my mother sings in a choir. She would take me along to her rehearsals. She decided to take me to piano and organ lessons from the age of four. Somehow, from a young age, I knew that I wanted to be a pianist; I just loved it so much. I could imagine myself giving a performance. When asked what we wanted to become, my school friends would say “Figo” or “Pelé”, but I wanted to be a musician!
After completing my music diploma, I went at the age of seventeen to the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory, Moscow where I studied with Professor Vera Gornostaeva.
And how and where did the two of you meet?
AP: It is strange, that although we are compatriots and are both from Guimarães, we met in Moscow! I was the only Portuguese student in St. Petersburg, and Pedro the only one in Moscow. We were introduced in order to play a concert together, which we did at Moscow’s Great Hall.
And since then you have played together many times?
AP: Yes. We relate well as musicians, which is the most important thing.
Let us discuss your concert programme in Goa. Tell us what influenced your decision to play the Mendelssohn Violin and Piano Concerto in D minor. It is not such a well-known repertoire work.
PP: Yes, I agree. I read your article about it last Sunday in the Navhind Times. The Portuguese Consul Rui Baceira gave us an idea of the local ensemble that could make music with us for some of the concert. We realised that it was essentially a string ensemble. We also wanted a work that would allow both Álvaro and me to play, and the Mendelssohn work is perhaps unique in this regard, and it is a work of genius.
And what will the rest of your programme feature?
AP: As you are aware, the Mendelssohn is a large work, lasting around forty minutes. We will play this in the second part of our programme. The first part will be a violin and piano recital. We will play works by several Portuguese composers: António Fragoso (1897-1918); Joly Braga Santos (1924-1988); and Oscar da Silva (1870-1958). And as were both studied in Russia, the programme will also have some Shostakovich: his Four Preludes Opus 34 for violin and piano.
Any advice for parents regarding providing a stimulus to our children?
PP: The most important thing is to be happy and derive pleasure from making music. Regarding advice to parents, let me recount an anecdote about the great violinist David Oistrakh. Once, someone asked him how he chose which children would be his pupils. He gave an interesting and funny answer: “I don’t care too much about talent or if the child wants to practice, when they first meet me. The first thing I do is meet their mother. If the child has a “crazy”, driven mother who will motivate him/her to practice, I will take on that child.” The role of the parent is so important. Motivation to practice and support can make all the difference.
(An edited version of this article appeared in the Navhind Times Goa India on 23 May 2015)