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George Todica - Piano

Interview

1- You started your musical training when you were six, under the guidance of Silvia Panzariu. How do you recall these early years of your training and your memories of this first master of yours?

These early years were full of curiosity and self-discovery. Before starting my piano lessons, I was constantly exposed to my older brothers practicing the piano in the house, so I couldn’t help but attempt doing what they were doing. My father saw me incredibly eager to start learning, so he took me to have my first piano lesson with Mrs Panzariu as an early birthday present, at the end of which I apparently expressed my wish of becoming a piano professor! After about a year of playing, I started going to competitions, winning first prizes in my age category, but it was after listening to the older students perform in their age group that I decided that this is the path that I would take in life.

2- Is your family musical?

My father used to play the saxophone. He and one of his brothers even formed a band in their youth, performing at parties and weddings, and he always wanted for me and my brothers to have a strong musical education from an early age. My two older brothers both played the piano when they were young and now are working as sound engineers. My oldest brother is also an opera singer, but they both still play piano for fun.

3- You studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland between 2011 and 2017, under the guidance of Graeme McNaught, Norman Beedie and Jonathan Plowright. How do recall those times, these professors and your musical development?

This really was a transformative period where I started to think beyond mere piano playing, and about the broader meaning of being a musician. I have studied for about a two-year period with each, and I have learned invaluable things from each of them, but all three stressed the importance of transcending the mechanism of the piano, and the constant search for colour. Our piano lessons become musical conversations in search of meaning and purpose.

4- In 2019 you completed the Artist Diploma Course at the Royal College of Music, under the guidance of Norma Fisher. How did this master fine tune you and the lessons you carry?

I was incredibly fortunate to be under Norma’s guidance in this past year. Every lesson was a small revelation, she was determined to bring out the best of me, my most expressive and truthful emotions, and wouldn’t let me get away with any shallow approach to music making. Communicating through the instrument, and through the music one plays had the upmost importance. After a relatively short period of time, I feel my artistic voice has been reborn and elevated.

5- You have won an impressive number of competitions from an early age. Which one holds a special place in your memories?

Several competitions hold a special place, as a lot of them were instrumental in my development as a musician and person. A special place is held by the Marco Fortini and Citta di Cesenatico Competitions in Italy in 2006. I was 13 and it was my first time traveling abroad to international competitions, accompanied by Iulian Trofin who was my piano teacher and mentor throughout my teenage years. It was in this period, and with Mr. Trofin’s guidance that I had my first taste of what it takes to be an international artist, the perks and incredibly hard work that comes with it. Everything felt incredibly fast paced, but there was this underlying feeling that the world could be mine for the taking if only I would reach out. I returned home with the 1st prize at both competitions, and with a strong desire to travel out again.

6- As a concert pianist, you had your debut at the Wigmore Hall in October 2018. What pieces did you play and what were your emotions at the time?

The Wigmore Hall was a big milestone. I remember attending several recitals there prior to my own, to get comfortable with the room, which only resulted in making me more nervous prior to the concert. Despite that, from the moment of walking on stage I had a strong feeling of ‘home’. I have rarely felt that connected and excited to perform as I felt in that recital. The first piece in my programme was Enescu’s Carillon Nocturne, which I felt immediately created an intimate and personal relationship between me and the audience. This particular piece is really close to my heart and is a strong symbol of my identity. The concert continued with Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Sonata, Chopin’s Barcarolle and Granados’ Fandango de Candil, all of which are works that I felt particularly strongly about at that time. This desire for meaningful communication, which Norma planted a few months prior to this, came to fruition that evening. I can’t thank the Tillett Trust enough for this fantastic opportunity.

7- What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?

Some of my fondest memories date back to when I was studying with Iulian Trofin. When I was 13 he started including me in some of his international musical projects. In one of them, me and two very good pianist friends of mine, Andrei Gologan and Daniel Petrica Ciobanu, went on a five-week piano tour in Italy and the United States. Our concerts were made of solo, four hands and six hands repertoire, and this was my experience of the world outside Romania, and my first experience as an international artist. There are pre-performance routines and advice that I still abide to today, such as the effectiveness of a powernap and the importance of a good walk on stage. Mr Trofin had a huge impact on my growth and maturity, not only as a musician, but as a person as well, always reminding us that we should regard ourselves as ambassadors of Romania.

8- How often do you practice?

I practice every day, for an average of four-five hours. I am quite ruthless with what I consider practice, so I don’t count in any 10 minute or even any unfocused work.

9- Would you consider teaching music in the future?

I already teach privately and have previously taught in schools and at the RCS Junior Conservatoire. I find it really enjoyable, especially teaching complete beginners. There is nothing quite like helping someone take their first steps in their musical journey and witnessing their discovery of the piano. It has also played an important role in my playing, as it makes me constantly revise my foundations.

10- What advice would you give to young musicians at the start of their journey?

It’s hard to give general advice as every journey is unique. However, a helpful reminder is that playing an instrument is a skill, so there will be hard work involved as well but it is accompanied by a sense of accomplishment and growth, and ultimately a feeling of freedom and creativity.

11- We know very little about Romanian composers and no doubt you have your favourites. Do you think there could be personal opportunities in the future for you to introduce to Western listeners a range of these composers’ works?

I tend to include Romanian music in all my concerts. So far, it has been received very well by audiences, probably because I have a strong personal connection with it and there is an honesty that carries through. Composers like Enescu and Silvestri have been regulars in my programmes.

submission August 2019

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