True Interpreter

Miami International Piano Festival Introduces Jorge Luis PratsAlready in its tenth edition, the Miami International Piano Festival has been regarded as one of the most exciting recital series in the classical music global scene. Throughout the last ten years, this South Florida event has included unique program performances by established artists, as well as emerging ones. These artists have honored us with their distinctive traditional voices, but have also challenged old conventions, demonstrating that there are many new interpretative ways and ideas still to be expressed in the classical piano arena. 2007 marks a special occasion for the event. The presenting organization, Patrons of Exceptional Artists – a publicly supported foundation dedicated to the career development of future great performing artists – has planned an extraordinary selection of concerts, featuring some of the finest musicians in the world. As part of this year’s Master Series, organizers are presenting the South Florida debut of piano virtuoso Jorge Luis Prats. This unique piano recital, performed by Maestro Prats took place at the Amaturo Theatre in the Broward Center for the Performing Arts during the month of February. Born in Cuba, Jorge Luis Prats is acknowledged as one of the finest pianists of his country, boasting a solid academic formation, evinced in his continued performances at major international concert halls, and the numerous accolades received throughout his life-time career. This last February, Miami Art Guide enjoyed the rare opportunity of meeting with the artist for few moments, who kindly accepted to cater to MAG’s curiosity by answering few questions and sharing his impressions of South Florida. Cynthia Saez: I’ve heard many stories amongst piano students in Havana about your exceptional dedication to becoming a virtuoso. How would you describe yourself as a student? Is it true that you may even have left blood traces on your piano’s keyboard after practicing? Jorge Luis Prats: “The thing with this myth about what the sacrifice of practicing the piano represents, is that the myth is true. But it’s not about how exhausting or boring it could be, but about how you cannot stop doing it no matter what. Some times you get sick, you get nail damage, it may even get infected, and you have to keep practicing or you may lose earned skills. You must keep doing it. That probably has to do with those stories about “bloody pianos” when I was a student. Fortunately, I have learned techniques to avoid many complications that come with this territory, but still, they happen every time, so now I even use anesthetics when the fingers are not in their best shape. But I have to keep practicing.” CS: When performing live, all attention is focused on you alone. How do you feel when you are on stage? Is it tough? JLP: “Classical music performers are a type of artist, special if you like. We spend a lot of time and effort, months, in order to be ready to perform just for one hour and a half every time. The excellence of the performance totally depends on those many hours of hard work. We take the big risk of ruining it all in a few minutes, and of course many insecurities arise, they are mostly forgiven by the audience… but I don’t get nervous, that’s not the right definition, it is not about me. When in a concert situation, I focus on the music and on the music only. The main goal of my performance is to show my ability to communicate the music, not to play it academically. I seldom fail with a key note, and there are many notes in specific pieces, more than you can read or normally play with your fingers. However if you know the ‘music’, if you understand it and you are ready to communicate it, you stop being yourself and become a true interpreter.” CS: Classical Vs. Contemporary. You are currently presenting a classical repertoire. Do you play contemporary? What’s your take on contemporary composers? JLP: “Music is music. It shouldn’t be separated… classical from contemporary. Most of today’s creations are experimental thus not transcendental, and there are many other great works that will be played indefinitely, only God knows for how long. I’m not limited to the “classical”, meaning only what’s established and legitimated. Music has kept evolving with time, there are many new instruments and styles, and of course great musicians that are creating right now. From an interpreter’s point of view, the most difficult part is to be able to communicate it, so it doesn’t matter when the work was created, if it carries a universal message, it will succeed beyond time.” CS: Arts in South Florida are everywhere. How do you see South Florida as a venue for classical music? JLP: “I’ve been very lucky by playing at the same places many times. I rarely come to new places, like the best places are all known and established. That’s why I’m really excited about this concert at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Miami Piano Festival Master Concert Series. I enjoyed very much playing for this audience for the first time. I’m not surprised of their response. They seemed very pleased. There is little tradition in classical music in South Florida if compared to Europe where no matter how small a town could be, a classical music concert is routine. However South Florida is very interesting. I’m very amazed about its cultural diversity, only compared with the feeling that big cities like New York or London give you… where nobody is really an alien. I think South Florida is starting to feel like that… an area that is developing its own culture. It is interesting to see its growth and to discover that there is also a place for classical music. Of course, the best example would be this wonderful festival created by Giselle Brodsky. She is a recognized personality in the international classical music arena and she has chosen South Florida as the venue for the event. Ten years haven’t proved her wrong. The festival has successfully included the highest ranked musicians alive like Frederic Rzewski, Francesco Libetta, Misha Dacic or Kemal Gekic. I’m pleased and honored of being invited to participate in a festival of such caliber.” CS: Has your career brought you personal realization? JLP: “I’m an interpreter, a communicator, where my knowledge of music is my precious gift. Everything you have to know about music is on paper, but the essence is invisible for the eyes. I teach master classes, and I always teach my students, many of them are really advantaged, that the most important part of what they do is what the audience is going to receive, the emotions and feelings music is able to bring. Music carries all that, but is not always visible or even teachable. I try to perpetuate the way great musicians played and conceived music, what they were trying to say with their creations, otherwise lost in time. I think that’s the key to success for every music interpreter. Recognition comes along when you are invited to do it over and over again. And here I’m, still doing it.”

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