London Symphony chose Portuguese to lead clarinet section

London Symphony chose Portuguese to lead clarinet section

sÉrgio Pires stated that it was “an achievement” that happened by “coincidence”, as he was in London recording an album with clarinetist Michael Collins, when he opened a competition and decided to apply.

The musician born in 1995 in the municipality of Vieira do Minho, who started his musical studies in Guimarães, passed the successive tests until he got the place.

For the clarinetist, “it was a bigger surprise”, “something I hadn’t even dreamed of”, and highlighted the “international notoriety” of the British orchestra, which “attracts even a non-regular public to classical music programmes, largely thanks to the recordings of soundtracks (of the films) of Harry Potter and ‘The Lord of the Rings'”.

“There will be many tours around the world. The next one, in April, is in Australia”, said the musician, who has already toured with the London orchestra to California and Europe.

“Every two months the Orchestra performs a very large tour, to the most important rooms. Recently, in Berlin and Frankfurt, two or three weeks before, the rooms were already sold out, it is an orchestra that everyone wants to hear”.

Sérgio Pires started to tour the international stages early on. At the age of 18 he participated in the European Union Youth Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and the Schleswig-Orchestra at the Holstein Festival in Germany.

Pires has played with orchestras such as the Bremen Philharmonic, the Basel Chamber Orchestras and Symphony Orchestra, the Musikkollegium Winterthur, the Transylvanian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Silesian Chamber Orchestra, the Argovia Philharmonic.

The musician has participated in classical music festivals such as the European Music Campus, in Austria, the Kultursommer Nordhessen, in Germany, the BBC Proms concert series, in London, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, in Germany, the Isang-Yun Festival, in South Korea, at the East Neuk Festival, in Scotland, at the Bozen Festival, in Italy.

“I do a lot of projects as a soloist, in quartets, a little bit everywhere, I’ve been around, in Latin America, namely in Brazil where I taught in favelas”.

The musician recalled his collaboration with Orquestra Neojiba – State Nucleus of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Bahia, “a kind of ‘El Sistema’ version of Venezuela”, a free didactic-pedagogical system for teaching music to children and young people of all socioeconomic strata.

“It’s a reality that is a little out of our minds. I went to teach eight and ten year olds who would tell us certain stories… A child told me that one day he came home and found his father dead in a recycling bin” , recalled Sérgio Pires.

In the violence of this reality, it turns out to be “very beautiful to see how they still have the joy of playing and finding that refuge (in music),” being able to leave “a little bit of that dangerous world”.

For teachers, however, the environment “is never a problem”, he assured. “It’s dangerous to go alone (in the favelas), but if they know we’re going to teach there and we go in with someone we know, it’s not a problem”, said Sérgio Pires, referring that “there is respect for the teacher’s mission”.

The musician will perform for the first time as a soloist, “in front of an orchestra”, on the 13th of May, in Porto Alegre, with the city’s Orquestra Sinfónica.

Sérgio Pires started playing the clarinet at the age of eight, when he returned from Switzerland with his parents who wanted him to continue studying music and interact with the other children in his village in the Gerês Natural Park.

“My sister and I joined a philharmonic band in the area and, at the time, I even wanted to play the trumpet, but there was no clarinet and I took the clarinet”.

Today, he considers the clarinet his “best way to express himself”.

“I love the clarinet because it’s very versatile. I play classical music as well as fado, I’ve played jazz. Not just any instrument can do that. It’s my way of expressing myself”, he said.

Born in 1995, Sérgio Pires began his musical studies at the age of eight. In 2007 he enrolled at the Valentim Moreira de Sá Academy of Music, in Guimarães, where he studied until 2013 with Vítor Matos. He then moved to Basel, Switzerland, where he studied with François Benda at the Hochschule für Musik der Stadt Basel (Basel State Higher School of Music), finishing his “Master Performance-Solist”, with the highest distinction, in 2018.

The musician recorded his first album in 2020, “during the (pandemic) covid-19”. “I found time, everything was closed, I could study, and I found a publisher. This first CD was dedicated to German romanticism, with pieces by Robert and Clara Schumann.

The second CD, recorded in 2021, was dedicated to French-speaking composers who wrote for clarinet, he explained, referring to the album dedicated to pieces by Saint-Saens, Debussy, Honneger, Milhaud, Francis Poulenc and Jean Francaix.

“Then I recorded another CD with the clarinetist Michael Collins”, one of the main British soloists, distinguished by his interpretations of composers such as Scubert and Mozart. “That is, I am part of a work on his CD”, concludes Sérgio Pires, who plays Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for two clarinets with Collins.

“A shrewd, pertinent and courageous reading”, reads the review of Gramophone magazine, about the joint interpretation of the French composer’s youth work.

The OSL was founded in 1904, it is the first independent orchestra in the United Kingdom and Hans Richter was its first conductor. It currently has conductor Simon Rattle as its musical director and, from September of this year, Antonio Pappano will be its principal conductor.

Also Read: The School of Music that “democratizes culture” in Rabo de Peixe

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