Flute Studio

I feel very fortunate to enjoy very much all of my jobs. My main job is to perform at the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, but I do love to teach flute and chamber music both at the School of the Arts and privately. I believe teaching is the perfect complement to a career as a musician. It forces us to keep up our level of playing. It also challenges us to be able to put into words how to face the problems that our students will find when practicing. That's not easy at all!.

Before coming to Singapore I was not teaching for a very long time, and I was missing it very much. Here I have met students of all kinds, each one of them with their skills, their illusions ... and each one of them always brings something interesting to me and the rest of the group. It's fantastic to help the students to get their goals step by step and to observe their evolution as musicians and also as human beings.

Usually flute lessons are individual, but I like to organize a Flute Studio from time to time with a big group of students. They join me to practice long tones, breathing exercises, scales, technique, etc.

Flute Studio
(Some of my fantastic students)

Moyse's De la Sonorité, Taffanel & Gaubert 17 Big Daily Exercises and Paul Edmund-Davies' The 28 Day Warm Up Book (which you can find here) are some of the methods we use for these sessions.

Last week we completed the last session of 2012. There was a very relaxing environment and good participation from everybody. We enjoyed equally the practice time as well as the coffee break. There's nothing better than a lunch all together after finishing the studio, which is quickly becoming a fine tradition.

Roberto Álvarez
19th December 2012
Babies Proms 2012

Hi again!

These days have been very special for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Besides the awesome repertoire we offer week after week, we occasionally do some different projects. This time we have left our concert tails behind and have worn the SSO polo t-shirts to continue a 10 years old tradition of the orchestra: The Babies Proms.

Uncle Peter brings every year a selection of classical pieces (or not so classical) that the children enjoy very much.

Uncle Peter
(Uncle Peter www.sso.org.sg)

This has been the tenth year that the SSO and Uncle Peter collaborate together, and since then we have performed no less than fifty Babies Proms! It is a real treat for the musicians to see the faces of the toddlers when we play themes from Harry Potter, Superman, Mission: Impossible, and so on. Like every year the highlight of the concert is to welcome some of the children to conduct the orchestra. This time we did the James Bond theme in all kind of fashions and different speeds!

It is a unique opportunity for children to listen to classical music, discover the different sections of the orchestra and see the instruments up close.

Some of the musicians we joined host Mona Lim to play a few pieces for the families to warm up before every show.

SSO concert members
From left to right: Roberto Álvarez (flute), Lim Meng Keh (percussion), Mona Lim (host), Sasha Souptel (violin) y Shannon Pittaway (trombone)

Roberto Álvarez
9th December 2012
School of the Arts (SOTA)

One of the places where I work is the School of the Arts (SOTA). This is the only school in Singapore that offers both an arts and academic curriculum together. It is very interesting and almost always satisfying to see the musical and personal development of students during the six years I have spent in the school.

The SOTA building is spectacular. It is located in the heart of Singapore, in an area called Dhoby Ghaut, very near to the famous street Orchard Road. It also accomodates a 700 seat concert hall, which is great for playing chamber music and recitals.

School of the Arts (SOTA)
(Photo by Jason Lee http://architectureforbreakfast.com)

Apart from the academic subjects such as Math, Science, Literature, etc., SOTA focuses on art education. Dance, Drama, Music and Visual Arts are some of the specialities that the students can enjoy here. This creates an environment where the students of this school are able to learn and work in a very special way.

SOTA students continuously show their creativity and artistic talent. Some great examples are my flute student Tu Sijing, who has been awarded in different international Flute and Chamber Music competitions, or Joy Abigail Ho, who made the video for my recording of Steve Reich's Vermont Counterpoint, which you can see here.

It is a pleasure to teach Flute and Chamber Music at this school. Especially in these times, when the public education system in Spain is not having a happy moment, I appreciate very much the philosophy of the School of the Arts, based on experimentation, expression and discovery.
Roberto Álvarez
19th November 2012
Unexpected trip to Bangkok!

I have spent two fantastic days as a guest at the Bangkok Flute Festival with Robert Aitken. This has been my first time in Bangkok, and the only bad thing about this trip was not having any time at all for sightseeing.

It has been a great chance to meet old friends, like Ringo Chan, from Hong Kong, Worapon Kanweerayothin (Bangkok Symphony Orchestra) and Hiroshi Matsushima (Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra), and to meet other fellow flautists, like Kalaya Phongsathorn, who did a great job organizing the festival.

Flute Festival in Bangkok

I have been looking forward to meeting Robert for many years. Finally we met in Thailand, not bad at all!

Robert is a world renowned flautist, composer and conductor from Canada. He is a former member of the Vancouver and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, and since 1970, he has been an international soloist. From 1988 to 2002 he was professor at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, en Friburgo, Germany.

It has been a pleasure for me to meet Robert and to participate in a concert with him, performing one of his works: Solesmes, for flute orchestra.

What a fabulous weekend, with a wonderful environment. Bangkok is definitely a place to visit again soon!
Roberto Álvarez
22nd October 2012
New Recordings

Hi everyone!

In my previous blog entry I talked a bit about Salvador Espasa and his work Argos. This time I would like to continue telling you about the recording I made of Salva's pieces.

In addition to Argos, I have also recorded Lamentos Bajo el Mar (which could be translated as Laments Under the Sea, or Sea Threnody) and Poema y Persecución (Poem and Chase). The three pieces show many contemporary effects for the flute, such as throat singing (voice and sound together), key pizzicato, eolic sounds, multiphonics, etc. The audience always enjoys these works in my performances, and to have made the Asian premiere of the three pieces makes me very happy. These are original for flute alone, but this time a percussion player has participated in the recording.

Ng Sok Wah is a Singaporean percussionist. She has given a very especial touch to this recording, playing the Tar (an instrument from North Africa), the triangle, different Kyezzes (gongs from Indonesia) and a cow bell!

We have all enjoyed very much making this recording. And also celebrating at the Spanish restaurant My Little Spanish Place, together with Wang Xu (double bass player at the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and sound engineer).

Salvador Espasa
left to right; Wang Xu, Ng Sok Wah & me

In case you would like to get the scores, you can check the Shop Section.

These three pieces, together with a few more works will be included soon in a new CD. I will keep you updated!
Roberto Álvarez
29th September 2012
Argos, by Salvador Espasa

Here we are again!

The previous couple of days I have been very involved in a beautiful project, the recording of Salvador Espasa's works for solo flute: Poema y Persecución, Argos y Lamentos bajo el mar (www.salvadorespasa.es).

Salva is one of those people that when you get to know him, he can change your life. He is one of the reference flute maestros in Spain, and the conductor of the Madrid Flute Orchestra. And yet he is very humble, definitely a person to learn from! I remember sight-reading a handwritten edition of Argos, a work with several extended techniques, in front of him. I was really nervous!

Salvador Espasa
(photo: laflautatraveseradesdelabarrera.blogspot.com)

Actually this entry is about Argos, a piece for solo flute written in 1998. It has many unusual effects for the flute and also very special rhythms.

In Greek mythology, Argos the all-seeing, was a one hundred-eyed giant. While he was sleeping he would only close half of them at a time.

After an encounter with Io, Zeus transformed his lover, Io, into a heifer to avoid the suspicion of his wife, Hera. Argos became the guardian of this heifer, which brought the anger of Zeus. Hermes, Zeus' son, made Argos fall completely asleep by playing a magic melody with his flute. Then he murdered him while he was sleeping. Afterwards, Hera took his eyes to embellish the tail of her sacred bird, the peacock.

You can find this work in the video section. Hope you enjoy it!
Roberto Álvarez
14th September 2012
3rd Flute Festival - Singapore

Hi everyone!

Last weekend we received a very special visitor, international flute soloist and principal flautist at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Denis Bouriakov (www.bouriakov.com).

This was four days of very intense musical activity, enjoying masterclasses, concerts, exhibitions, forums, concerts and an international flute competition.

The opening event was a recital by Denis together with his wife Erin. It was a pure joy to see how music can transcend technique. Definitely, this was the concert of the year in Singapore! Denis is able to raise the flute to heights never reached before.

The flute competion brought flautists from many different Asian countries. The very good news was that my students Tu Sijing and Clement Lim won the third and first prize respectively.

Denis y Roberto
(Denis Bouriakov, Roberto Alvarez, Erin J. Bouriakov & Goh Tiong Eng)

I was thankful to perform one of the pieces in the closing concert together with Denis, Erin and Goh Tiong Eng (who organized the whole event). We played Vivaldi's Concerto for Four Violins, in its version for four flutes, accompanied by the Singapore and Hong Kong Flute Orchestras, led by Ringo Chan.

It was a very special weekend, meeting one of the best musicians you can find in the world today. Let's hope we can see events like this more often in Singapore.

All the best!
Roberto Álvarez
30th August 2012

Singapore Skyline
(photo from http://wallpapers-diq.net)

In my first post I would like to welcome you to my blog site.

My name is Roberto Alvarez and I am the piccoloist and flautist in the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO). I am originally from a region in the North coast of Spain, called Asturias. This is now my fifth year in this city/ state in Southeast Asia.

Here I will be talking about personal projects, my experience as a musician and a teacher, and the cultural life around me.

I Hope you find this fun and interesting!
Roberto Álvarez
25th August 2012