Sun | Jun 16, 2019

The piano life -Chilean classicist brings the sounds of ruins and space

Published:Tuesday | March 22, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Chilean classical composer and pianist Claudio Recabarren in performance at the University Chapel last Thursday.

Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer

When asked why he was bringing a pianist to Jamaica, Ambassador Alfredo García of the Embassy of Chile told sceptics that relations between countries was not only about politics.

So politics was sent packing last Thursday, as the pianist, a Chilean classical composer, Claudio Recabarren, took the stage at the University Chapel at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

On a piano placed between the flags of Jamaica and Chile, and dressed in full dark blue, Recabarren delivered an almost hour-long performance of his original classical music.

The titles of the music in his repertoire sounded like those found in movies. So, it was with Children of the Sun and Arcturus, the Chilean held the audience in silence.

Audience hypnotised

His fingers danced over the piano keys and the hypnotism began.

Fifth Dimension, a gentle and calming selection composed based on his experiences in the Mayan and Incan Ruins of Mexico and Chile respectively, hit home.

A brief pause, then he segued into the sprightly and joyous sounds of You Rise Mysteriously, which was inspired by autumn on a Spanish mountain.

The America-educated composer's work was not only inspired by ancient ruins, but also a deep love and connection to space.

This was quite evident in Street Tram From Space, Far From Orion and the lengthy-but-no-less-entertaining Cosmic Light.

Rafael Salazar, lecturer of music at Northern Caribbean University liked, along with, the composer's interpretation, the repetition of notes and colouring.

Of the concert, he said "It was very lovely", while his colleague assistant piano professor, Edison Valencia, thought the concert and atmosphere were wonderful. He, too, liked the colouring of the sounds, the harmony, as well as the notes.

The concert was concluded with Spanish Games, another Spain-inspired piece.

With the injection of a short applause towards the end, the curtains of Claudio Recabarren's Jamaican concert closed.

Well almost. The maestro had a little treat for the audience. It was a Chilean interpretation of the popular Bob Marley classic One Love, resulting in the audience's second standing ovation for the evening; the first being given upon the conclusion of Spanish Games.

Claudio Recabarren was born in San Bernardo. His father was also a pianist. Young Recabarren began to play the piano by ear when he was four or five years old. Ultimately, he had approximately seven years of combined formal training.

He is mostly inspired by the sky, as he sees a universal connection with the stars.

Man of humility

But he is also a man of humility. "I do not consider myself a great piano player, but one day I found out that I connect to the piano, so when I play, I connect to the piano," he said in an after-performance interview with The Gleaner.

He does not play any other musical instrument. However, if given a bottle of wine, he can "get away with [a] guitar".

It is his keen sense of rhythm and music that puts Claudio in another class, as was evident in his observation of Jamaicans since his arrival on the island.

"I am excited to see and understand the Jamaican people. When I see them walking, talking, which is kinda slow, but with rhythm, I understand reggae."

He finds Jamaica relaxing, too. "It is like the reggae," he concluded with a laugh.

Another of Recabarren's assignments in Jamaica will be to lead a master class at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. And the Southern Chile-born pianist is looking forward to the heuristic learning experience.

"I will talk about my piano life," he said.