Celebrity Interviews

This Celebrity Interview was conducted by Sergej Tchirkov on October 7th, 2002 after a concert given by the teachers of the Barcelona Conservatory (Spain). This concert included Iñaki Alberdi of Spain who opened the concert with an excellent performance of works by Torres, Lazkano and Erkoreka. The concert took place at the St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, Glasunov Hall.

Q. How did you first start on the accordion?
A. I was 13 years old and my grandfather played accordion. He played mostly folk music of Basque Country.

Q. Who was your first teacher?
A. My first real teacher was Carlos Iturralde and then Miren Inarga. Their influence was tremendous. It was Carlos Iturralde, who taught me to be very strict with the music - I learnt then that each composer's notes should be considered very seriously and with careful attention. I think that Carlos Iturralde was the one who had to work with me when I was 15 to 16 years old, which is a difficult age. But he has an enormous pedagogical talent and he knew to find the right approach to young performers.

Q. Tell us about your other teachers?
A. Later I studied with Friedrich Lips. I was enrolled to his class in Spain and I studied with him 3 years in Spain and for four months in Moscow (to prepare for the Moscow Competition in 1995). It was a wonderful time.

I started to work on the contemporary music but I also started to work on the quality of the sound. Maybe, I didn't realize this whilst studing under Prof. Lips but now I know that the sound is one of the most important things which I learned from him. We also worked a lot on different transcriptions and works for accordion and orchestra.

Then I studied with Matti Rantanen at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. Matti introduced me to the world of contemporary new music, studying new music "in depth". He also he showed me that he was more than a superb musician, he was also an excellent person.

Q. What do you think about the competitions in general?
A. In a professional way, international competition is usually the moment in your career before you start recitals, because of the promotion which competitions can bring to your performing. One can also learn a lot at the competitions where different school are represented with competitors and jury members. I would say that the competitions are as important as you want them to be. It is very important not to make it a sport.

Q. What do you think about the contemporary Spanish composers?
A. There is now a new generation of composers with a high quality. I would like to emphasize some of these composers who have written frequently for accordion, such as: Ramon Lazkano, Pascal Gaigne, Gabriel Erkoreka and Jesús Torres. Their works have helped create the situation, that the accordion can be scheduled at the most important festivals of contemporary music.

The composer Jesús Torres has got that his piece "Itzal" for accordion solo enclosed inside the catalogue of the most important works for accordion such as Berio, Lindberg or Gubaidulina.
Q. Can you recall any humorous situation from you concert activities?
A. Once we performed a concert in duo with accordionist Iñigo Aizpiolea. The programme included Stravinsky's "Petrushka". After the concert a woman from the audience came to congratulate us with the concert and she said that the sound was perfect, the technique was amazing etc. but then she said that the music was horrible!. It was a kind of skock for both of us, i thought "if Stravinski is horrible what should be good music for her!"

Q. Tell us, please, about your activities as a teacher?
A. I have nine students in the Conservatories of Barcelona and San Sebastian, Spain. Now we are trying to establish new school of accordion (an example for us is the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland) and we discussed this project with Matti Rantanen, Owen Murray, Vojan Vasovic the last December, at a course in San Sebastian.

Q. Many accordionists know that you perform a lot of chamber music. Could you tell us about your recent projects?
A. I am a member of the group Oiasso Novis (saxophone, percussion, accordion and electroacustic sound), which performs pieces written by young composers. At the same time I make some collaboration with soloists such as the pianist Ananda Sukarlan and the percussionist Miquel Bernat as well as with chamber groups like the Modus Novus String Quartet.

Q. Which non-accordion music do you prefer to listening to?
A. Speaking about nowdays composers I would say that my favourites are Magnus Lindberg, Toshio Hosokawa or John Adams. Otherwise, I also like early music such as Tomas Luis de Vitoria or J.S. Bach of course.
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