Hybridization between sense & sensibility

This 25th of March, the pianist Ester Vela performed, at the Reial Acadèmia de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi, an extensive tasting of "exciting 21st century music", with new pieces by David Llorens and Guillaumes and the melancholy sonority of the hybrid piano.

Pianist and composer Ester Vela has been practicing music for almost thirty years. Apart from many studies and awards, she has had the Vela piano duo with her sister Eulàlia since 1993. She combines it with other tasks, such as the search for and dissemination of musical repertoire created by women (such as her investigation about Narcisa Freixas.) This April she has been in Cuba performing several concerts with works by Catalan composers.

Sergey Gogolev, whom she knew previously as a tuner, proposed to participate in the project. She went on to practice with the piano ACOUHYB before the concert; the change of sound with different pedalization required prior contact. As she had heard it before, the sound did not surprise her. "It's a little reminiscent of an old piano, but it's clear that it's a challenge to the mechanics of the left pedal." For her, the word that would define the sound of the hybrid piano is "Melancholy".

As this was the intention, it was a program "attractive to the public, which circumvented the best-known repertoire and contained a good representation of live composers." The result was very pleasant. Ester Vela performed Arvö Part, Nadia Boulanger, Zara Levina, Francesc Taverna-Bech, Mercè Torrents, Anna Bonfill, Gloria Villanueva, Marian Márquez, Jordi Vilaprinyó and Astor Piazzola, and gave the world premiere of the ACOUHYB Studies, by David Llorens and Guillaumes (the interview below), composed expressly for the double timbre of the hybrid piano.

There were three rehearsals with David Llorens and Guillaumes for him to listen to the pieces: "It is always a privilege to be able to have the composer to work on the plays. I think the collaboration was very good." I asked her if she had previous experiences with composers: "Over the course of almost 30 years of career as a pianist, I have been lucky enough to be able to work with multiple composers, and each one has given me interesting things."

The concert had the same name as a Jane Austen book: "Sense & Sensibility". I asked her why: "The truth is that my mother was a big fan, and I thought it was a title that expressed the concept of the concert that I wanted to communicate."

Following the title, she reflected on the relationship between music and emotions: "I believe that music is one of the arts that has the greatest power to touch people's souls and, without a doubt, it must be able to transmit emotions of all kinds (not only in the romantic or passionate sense)." Neither is she committed to a single musical style that is more linked to the affective factor: "I think it is good that there are different tendencies and styles that coexist. I am against unifying artistic expressions since, in reality, they are a reflection of the creative personality."

I asked her about her experience with music on a more personal level: "Music fills my life as a performer, composer, pedagogue, as well as a listener. It is a source of communication and a bridge between the past and the future."

She has hopes, within common sense (the music market today does not give rise to too many romantic expectations, although the passion for music never stops proliferating), in the ACOUHYB project: "it is a relatively new project that is generating curiosity and expectation. We will see how its diffusion and consolidation are articulated."

Ester Vela is expected to give more concerts with the hybrid piano. The next one is a piano recital with Stefan Cassar (we have his article below) which will take place on 4th November. We’ll expect you there!

Nadja Bas

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