An encounter with Pablo Ferrández Castro, 20-year old new Young Soloist of Kronberg Academy Masters
Just few hours before his concert for the Musikkreis Leyda Ungerer/Freunde Junger Musiker in Bad Homburg´s Schlosskirche was about to start Pablo Ferrández was kind enough to agree on a short interview focussing on his first impressions regarding his new life in Kronberg.
Just 20 year of age, Pablo was admitted as new Young Soloist of “Kronberg Academy Masters”, a unique study programme launched by Kronberg Academy and Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main in 2006.
Coming from a very musical family young Pablo started to play the cello already at age 3. Both his mother and father were enthusiastic for their children (Pablo has a younger sister , age 16, studying viola) to embark on a highly music-influenced development. Pablo´s father, trained as an engineer, turned musician after having heard several musical performances by his fellow countryman Pablo Casals. So the family decided that their first-born child would be named after the great Catalonian cello virtuoso.
Pablo was born in 1991 in Madrid. His mother, a musical teacher, wanted to instill early on musical capabilities by utilising a technique whereby music-oriented capabilities such as absolute pitch might influence her still unborn children. Obviously the results for both Pablo and his sister seem to have had a very positive impact on their musical developments based on their accomplishments so far. Pablo currently lives in a guest family´s home in Kronberg and all of the facilities of Kronberg Academy lie within 10 m minutes walking distance. He is now one of 13 young people to study here in this city embracing various masterclasses, workshops and specially designed learning activities.
Following are Pablo´s answers to our questions reflecting his first thoughts and impressions
Q: How do you feel right now, having arrived in Germany and living now in Kronberg
Pablo: Well, I am just doing fine. And I am feeling so inspired. I breathe the good air, the colours, the nature around me. I take a lot of walks and do great deal of jogging. I love it all, here! Well, I could not feel better! Parallel to my regular jogging exercises I do work very hard and rehearse about 7 hours a day. I am very motivated. My willpower gets strengthened through my physical training and I love it. At the same time I feel relief through walking and jogging.
Q: What is different here, compared to living in Spain
Pablo: Overall, Music is so valued in this country. I am encountering people who are enormously knowledgeable to great degree. For me classical music and Germany are just one thing. This is not really the case in my country. I can experience this very closely during and after concerts. Often people approach me here after the concerts and ask questions, and comment on my playing. They reveal insights and understanding. That is very special. On the other hand it is also quite challenging for an artist to play here.
Q: What did you know about Kronberg Academy prior to being approved in our study programme?
Pablo: I knew about Kronberg Academy quite a bit especially with regard to its international reputation. First, it´s famous, then I understood that it´s reaching for the highest standards in its educational programmes. Yes, and the Academy is known for its successes. And it is very well respected in the musical world, including where I come from. That this institution is just concentrating on only 14 students right now, tells a lot. On the other hand, most young musicians that I know, don´t have a real clue how the academy really works. The selection processes are very tough. What I forgot to mention: the famous teachers that are working with the Academy command respect. All this adds up with most young musicians´ assessment of the Academy as being an exclusive institution.
Q: Who have been your greatest influences, musically speaking?
Pablo: My teacher Natalia Shakoskaya in Madrid at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía. She taught me all important things what it means to play music and what it requires from a musician. She did not impose a particular technique or style or attitude apart from elaborating around the key philosophy on how to see and approach music and a given work of a composer. Music must come from the inside and it has to be alive and honest. She told me lessons about how to express oneself musically. Natalia gave me everything, I am so grateful to her. Right now I am listening intensely to piano works played by Martha Argerich, that is where I learn many things while listening. I admire her. I don´t listen to lots of cello music, interestingly. Martha Argerich plays in a way, that one thinks the piece is composed in that very moment. This experience, approaching/understanding her enormous musical capabilities is what impacts me strongly – for quite a while now. And my current teacher Frans Helmerson. He has such a clear understanding of what I need right now. This is fantastic and I am so happy with him!
Q: Mentioning two great cello players, Pablo Casals and Emanuel Feuermann and any other you like to mention, what is your attitude towards these artists?
Pablo: Well, regarding Pablo Casals, we all have great respect for him, he is the grandfather of all other players. I particularly like Casals´s statement about J S Bach: “Bach´s music means knowing of everything and being aware of every feeling“.
Regarding Feuermann I can´t say so much because I don´t know enough about him. And then there is Mr. Rostropovich, the great maestro. Yes, he is incredible. I was introduced to him when I was a small child, but I don´t have personal memories of that encounter.
Q: Living day in day out, with daily hour-long rehearsals, a life fully absorbed by music, how does that feel, are there pains from time to time?
Pablo: I had a very nice childhood and parents that were always caring. The daily practices were never imposed on me or my sister. We developed a sense of our own to rehearse. We are practicing to serve music. The quality and the value of the musical works are so enormous that one has to work so hard in order to be able to come close to the original genius in a given composition. That is absolutely necessary and I am doing it because it s my will to do so. My parents helped me to develop the necessary discipline. Constantly improving one´s playing that has always been my goal, up to now! This also means because of the long hours spent daily that there will be sacrifices, just as in sports! I see a clear parallel between what top sports folks are aiming for and what musicians are striving for in their endeavours. My motto is: we as musicians must work a lot for the sake of the music we are going to perform.
Q: Do you have a personal vision for your next development steps?
Pablo: I want to become a soloist, performing lots of chamber music. I want to be 100% ready for this profession. Music deserves that the best is being delivered by the players. And I want to fulfill my role in the future not in a commercially driven sense. My music playing shall not be an economic enterprise. I want to make best use of my time with Kronberg Academy, earn the respect of others.
Q: What Do you expect from the educational programme here in Kronberg?
Pablo: At the end of my time in Kronberg I want to feel more complete. And I want to find and explore new possibilities for me. Since all the people in the academy as well as the musicians function altogether quite a bit like a big family I think I will have enough support in my endeavours. And I want to prove that I deserve being one of the students to study here under those great teachers.
Q: Are your parents still closely following your activities?
Pablo: Yes, of course: Our family is very well connectd and we communicate on a daily basis!I tell them about every activity that I do! And my parents keep inspiring me!
Q: What helps you to relax?
Pablo: As I said earlier, it´s jogging. Doing physical exercises/sports is very good. Bu the side effect is, it helps me to move my limits further towards longer distances. Yes, there are pains and sacrifices, but this is okay. I love that feeling! For me “Superacion” is the key in my life, I don´t know the English word for that. Meaning constantly striving to exceed oneself. That´s my way of strengthening my willpower. The will to improve one´s playing, it never stops, so here sports is helping me.
Q: now our final question, how problematic is the need to be online in the internet, given your daily work schedule?
Pablo: I only can say good things about the internet. I use it daily so to be able to connect to my family, my friends – even when I am far away! I need it – I must stay in contact with my loved ones. So, the internet provides the platform. And I am a regular user. Whenever I can, I also use the telephone capability of Skype.
Thanks for the interview, Pablo!
Michael Heinz/Kronberg Academy