Australian Flute Festival 2013

What a fantastic experience to be part of the Australian Flute Festival! There was three days of recitals, concerts, lessons and meeting really interesting people.

Lyndie and David Leviston, from Flutes and Flutists, did a wonderful job organizing the Festival. I only have words of praise for them. All those events at the same time, and it worked perfectly!

Steve Reich's Drumming (With David Leviston, Christina Giuliano (from Verne Q Powell Flutes) and Lyndie Leviston)

Such great organization left all the guest flautists to enjoy all the events very much. It would be impossible to mention all the fantastic colleagues and flautists taking part at the Festival. I hope they forgive me for not mentioning all of them here. You can find information about all the flautists at this link to the Festival.

The Festival took place from the 5th to the 7th of October. In such a short time I performed four concerts, did three masterclasses and was a panellist in two competitions. It definitely was time used wisely.

It was a pleasure to meet so many young talented flautists. I am sure that if they keep working like this they will become true artists. It was also great to know that my student Nikolai Song won the second prize at the Young Artists Competition at the Festival. Well done, Nikolai!

Los músicos de Drumming en el Recital Studio del Esplanade
(With Nikolai Song)

One of the most special moments was to perform a flute (and piccolo) recital with the terrific pianist Alan Hicks. We did the world premiere of Jorge Muñiz Sonata for Piccolo and Piano, Escenas de la Vida de Poulenc by Eduardo Costa, Passio Sensatio Motus by Miguel Prida, and Capriccio Brillante by Salvador Brotons. Also the Australian premiere of the Flute Sonata by Elisenda Fábregas, and Salvador Espasa's Lamentos bajo el mar and Poema y Persecución. As you can see it was a whole new repertory, and I have to say that it has great quality.

Alan Hicks is such a great musician, he mastered the pieces in just one rehearsal. Bravo Alan!

Los músicos de Drumming en el Recital Studio del Esplanade
(With Alan Hicks)

Actually, all the pianists at the Festival did an awesome job. Gabi Pusner, David Barnard y Leigh Harrold performed at a very high level, and made the flautists life much easier.

Los músicos de Drumming en el Recital Studio del Esplanade
(The musicians/ early morning runners from the Australian Flute Festival)

On the last day, the most courageous musicians woke up early and went for a run. Nothing is better to expand you lungs before facing the last concerts!

I would like to thank Verne Q Powell Flutes for bringing me to the Australian Flute Festival 2013.

Roberto Álvarez
19th October 2013
Steve Reich's Drumming

Drumming, by American composer Steve Reich is an awesome work.

It's a minimalistic-repetitive piece from 1970-71. Steve Reich composed this after a journey to Africa, where he was studying different rhythms, especially in Ghana.

Drumming is based on a very simple rhythmic motif. But then this motif is developed and becomes a hypnotic and very special theme. It's music that brings the listeners, if they are not in a rush, to an unforgettable sound journey, especially if this is their first introduction to Minimal Music.

Steve Reich's Drumming
Additional information - Larger Poster

This piece is composed for three marimbas, four pairs of bongos, three glockenspiels, two (or three) female singers, whistle and piccolo.

I had the opportunity to perform this piece once again after many years, on the 13th of September 2013, this time with some of the best percussionists in the country. It has been an unforgettable experience. Each rehearsal has been a fantastic event.

Awesome percussionists Lim Meng Keh, Eugene Toh, Cheryl Ong, Ramu Thiruyanam, Tan Lee Ying, Sng Yiang Shan, Marvin Seah, Bai Jia Xing and Daniel Ho fdid a terrific job. The same goes for the singers Lim Yan Ting, soprano, and Thomas Manhart, counter-tenor, which were marvellous imitating the marimbas with their voices.


Los músicos de Drumming en el Recital Studio del Esplanade
(The musicians for Drumming at the Esplanade Recital Studio)

This time I didn't just play the piccolo and organize the concert, but I was whistling on stage too. This was the real challenge in this performance!

Thank you very very much to all the musicians involved in Drumming and, of course, big thanks to the School of the Arts (SOTA) and to Kheng Seng from Professional Percussion Rental for their help with the instruments and the rehearsal space. I would like to thank also the National Arts Council, Michelle Yeo and all the crew from "Spectrum, A New Music Series" and the Esplanade.

Drumming has been a project that has involved many people. It wouldn't have been possible to make without the collaboration of all and each one of them. Thank you very much, and hopefully we will repeat the experience in the future!

Roberto Álvarez
15th September 2013
Avilés, my hometown

In the previous blog entry I talked about the recital I performed in Avilés, my hometown.

Avilés is one of the main cities of the Principality of Asturias, in the North of Spain. It has about 80,000 inhabitants. It's not one of the most touristic places in Spain, especially if you compare it to other sunny corners in my country, but it's definitely full of charm.

I spent my whole childhood in this town. Avilés hides many beautiful places in its streets. That's something that I found utterly normal when I was a kid, but I really appreciate it now when I visit. There is room for historical buildings like these:

Roberto y sus compañeros de la escena musical de Singapur
(Avilés, Spain - photos by Luis Serrano)

Roberto y sus compañeros de la escena musical de Singapur
(Avilés, Spain - photos by Luis Serrano)

And also for the most modern ones:

Roberto y sus compañeros de la escena musical de Singapur
(The Dome of the Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre, Avilés, Spain - photos by Luis Serrano)

To attend music lessons at the Avilés Conservatory was something very important in my life. Before becoming a Conservatory it was a palace. Well, actually it's still a palace, Palacio Fernández Balsera is its name. Can you imagine how awesome and inspiring it was to study in a building like that? It's a Modernist house from 1917, and it had been declared building of Cultural Interest in 1991.


Roberto y sus compañeros de la escena musical de Singapur
(Palacio Fernández Balsera, Avilés, Spain - photos by www.asturiasdecerca.es)

Of course, not only was the building a luxury in my life as a student. Many of the teachers were unforgettable, especially my first solfege teacher, Gonzalo Casielles. He taught me to appreciate music and to enjoy it as much as I could.


Roberto y sus compañeros de la escena musical de Singapur
(Roberto and Gonzalo Casielles)

My life would have been completely different if I had not met such a fantastic mentor as Gonzalo Casielles.

Something that I've always enjoyed is to have a walk in the Old Town just after the rain, especially at night. The ambience is really special then.


Roberto y sus compañeros de la escena musical de Singapur
(Avilés, Spain - photos by Luis Serrano)

For these and many other reasons I enjoy every visit I pay to Avilés. Such a cosy and welcoming town! Not to mention the food! But that is another story and shall be told another time.

Roberto Álvarez
20th August 2013
Flute and Harp Recital Aviles

During the holidays from my orchestra, I visited my hometown, Avilés, to see my family and friends. But far from taking a big break, I performed a recital for flute and harp that I was wanting to do for a long time.

The concert included a few pieces from the CD, La Noche: Motionless Vault, by Miguel Prida, Fernando Agüeria's Moonlight and Gigante Blanca, by Ignacio Rodríguez Guerra. Apart from the pieces from the CD I also performed a work for solo flute, Asturian Mythology, again by Agüeria. I am very happy to have performed music by my fellow Asturians. The programme was completed by music by Ibert, Ravel, Bach and Parish-Alvars.

I am glad to have performed with the fantastic harpist Mirian del Río. She is the principal Harp at the Asturias Symphony Orchestra, and we had performed many times together with that Orchestra, but this was the first recital we have done together.

Roberto y sus compañeros de la escena musical de Singapur
(Roberto and Mirian in Avilés, Spain)

The concert hall for this event was the Dome of the Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre. This building still amazes me every time I visit my hometown. It is amazing to have this Cultural Centre in Avilés. I truly hope they will have the support to bring great events season after season.

Roberto y sus compañeros de la escena musical de Singapur
(The Dome of the Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre)

This recital was very special for many reasons: performing with Mirian, to do the European premiere of music by great friends and talented composers and for performing for the first time in my hometown after more than 20 years!

But above all, to see so many friends and relatives in the audience was truly touching and unforgettable.!

Roberto Álvarez
1st August 2013
Chamber Music Concert at the School of the Arts

On the 14th of May of 2013, I finally made one of the projects that I had had in mind for a long time: to perform Manuel de Falla's Concerto for Harpsichord and Five Instruments. It is difficult to include this concerto in a program, and the selection of pieces for the concert worked really well together.

Roberto and the people of SOTA
(Roberto and colleagues from the Singaporean music scene)

This has been a very special concert because of finally performing de Falla's Concerto, but also because of the Asian Premiere of Salvador Brotons' Sextet Mixt. It was the first time that I performed one of his works, but it definitely won't be the last one. What a fantastic piece!

The concert also included Singaporean Premieres of Acrostics, by Samuel Adler and Telephone Book, by Michael Torke. Both are awesome pieces of music in which we discovered more and more details in every rehearsal.

Roberto and the people of SOTA
(Roberto and colleagues from the Singaporean music scene)

I'm very happy of sharing the stage and rehearsals with fantastic colleagues from the Singaporean music scene, such as Tien Yang, harpsichord; Lim Yan, piano; Audi Goh, oboe; Li Xin, clarinet; Chan Yoong Han, violin; Leslie tan, cello; y Mark Suter, percussion.

Now it's already time to think about my next recital, which will be very especial, too: to perform classical music in my hometown for the first time in 20 years!

Roberto Álvarez
15th May 2012
Masterclasses at the Japanese Association of Singapore

As you probably know already, I really enjoy teaching flute. This time I had the honour of being invited by the Japanese Association of Singapore to give a series of masterclasses to a group of eight people.

I'm always glad to visit the association. Although I didn't have the time to try the delicious ramen they serve in their restaurant, I enjoyed these sessions with a group of really attentive amateur flautists very much.

Roberto y la Asociación Japonesa
(Roberto and the Japanese Association of Singapore)

The challenge of this course was definitely the difference in experience between the participants. There were students who had been playing the flute for years, and others that have only recently held one for the first time. We spent a few days working on the basics of the flute playing: breathing, tone, tonguing, etc.

My knowledge of Japanese is basically limited to "Happy New Year", but that was not a problem at all thanks to Mr. Kohki Oda, who was so kind as to translate my words when necessary. He and Mrs. Motoko Nakai's, from the music department of the Japanese Association, made these masterclasses possible.

It is always a big pleasure to participate in the concerts and/or courses organized by the Japanese Association of Singapore. It has been a fantastic experience.

Arigatou gozaimashita!
Roberto Álvarez
13th May 2012
Rachmaninov 2 and Neeme Järvi

Last week's concert was very special for several reasons. We performed Wagner's Overture to Rienzi and Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2. The orchestra also accompanied soloist Nicola Benedetti on the Korngold's Violin Concerto.

It was a week of memories. First time I had played the Overture to Rienzi with a wind band I was about 12 years old. I vividly remember how impressed I was by the sound of that piece. At that time I thought that the original instrumentation to the overture had saxophones and ten flutes! Last week's conductor, Neeme Järvi brought me another memory. His daughter Maarika Järvi was the principal flute at the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias, when I was a kid I went to listen to them every week. We were talking about that when this picture was taken:

Neeme Järvi y Roberto
(Neeme Järvi and Roberto)

Last week was also special because we repeated the same programme twice, and we don't do this too often in the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

SSO Orchestra
(SSO Orchestra)

The concert was particularly good on the second day, but it is always great to perform Rachmaninov 2 with the SSO since we recorded it for BIS a few years ago. It has been very interesting to make these two utterly different interpretations of the same symphony.

These have been the last SSO shows before we take a few days off to celebrate the Chinese New Year. This will be the Year of the Snake, which happens to be my year!

Gong Xi Fa Cai everybody!
Roberto Álvarez
7th February 2012
Happy 2013!

Hi all!

Today I'll do a review of 2012. When I was making a compilation of what I had done during the year, I was very surprised at how productive it had been for me. 2012 has been a year of music, many performances, recordings, festivals, friends and family. In short, a very complete year.

montage 2012
(Montage of 2012)

Just with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, I have performed in over fifty concerts. I especially remember Prokofiev Fifth Symphony, with Korean cellist and conductor Han-Na Chang. That was an awesome performance! Also unforgettable were the concerts led by Okko Kamu, Neeme Jarvi and Gennady Rozhdestvensky. A very special performance was the one together with some Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music students, in which we played An Alpine Symphony, by Richard Strauss.

montage 2012
(Montage of 2012)

We have received the visits of fantastic friends, such as Paul Edmund-Davies (London Symphony), Wolfgang Schulz (Vienna Philharmonic), Denis Bouriakov (Metropolitan Opera New York). And we have visited more friends outside Singapore, Robert Aitken (international soloist), Worapon Kanweerayothin (Bangkok Symphony Orchestra), Hiroshi Matsushima (Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra), Myra and Peter Pearse (Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias and my beloved masters!).

montage 2012
(Montage of 2012)

I have truly enjoyed taking part in the Bangkok and the two Singapore Flute Festivals.

Nothing better than finishing the year off with some good news: my students Daniel Lim and Jasper Goh have got a place to study at the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, respectively. And my CD La Noche, with harpist Katryna Tan, has been selected as the best classical album in Singapore by the Strait Times.

Here it is for an even better 2013 for everybody. Hugs!
Roberto Álvarez
7th January 2012