1- You are currently studying for his Master in Performance at the Royal College of Music, London with Kyle Horch. How is this progressing?
He is currently studying for his Master in Performance at the Royal College of Music, London with Kyle Horch. He is an RCM scholar supported by Dr Michael West. Manu completed his undergraduate studies in Seville at the Conservatorio Superior de Música Manuel Castillo with Juan Jimenez.
I am very happy with the progress, I can feel the improvement and I can also hear it and see it when I see my old videos and recordings. Thanks to Kyle and to the Royal College of Music I am finding my own personality performing and every month becoming more and more comfortable while playing.
2- Is your family musical?
Just my grandfather. He was a self-taught musician, he used to play the violin, saxophone and clarinet and he created and was the conductor of two bands and a little orchestra based in different villages near his hometown in Huelva (Spain) that is still active.
3- You completed your undergraduate studies in Seville at the Conservatorio Superior de Música Manuel Castillo with Juan Jimenez. How do you recall these times and being mentored by this master?
It was a really nice time, I made a lot friends that I will keep for a long time to come and it was where I started to develop as a musician. I have a lot of nice memories of the place, of the lessons and classes and of my teachers, specially of Juan, with who now I have a friendly relationship although he will still be my teacher probably for ever.
4- You recently won the Royal College of Music Saxophone Competition 2017 (Jane Melber Prize). How did this feel like and how was the atmosphere like?
The competition itself was very relaxed and had a healthy atmosphere, with people supporting and enjoying each other’s performances. In the competition I just tried to do my best and the panel chose to award me with the first prize, I was happy about it and of course it is always nice to win something but even if I win or if I don’t I always try to learn from the experience.
5- You were selected to take part in the 2017 London Sinfonietta Academy and to collaborate with the national youth orchestra Youth Musician Symphony Orchestra (YMSO). How enriching was this experience?
I was selected to take part in the YMSO one year ago and I am still waiting for them to programme a concert in which there is a saxophone, what I hope will happen soon. About the Sinfonietta Academy it was an amazing experience; one week of very intense work with top level professional and students, and performing Tansy Davie’s saxophone concerto with them was just amazing.
6- In 2016 you and pianist Prajna Indrawati created the Vario Duo, with which you perform recitals. How did you meet and how is the collaboration progressing?
The beginning of our story was a little bit funny because we met on the bus coming to college. Since last October we have been performing a lot and helping each other every time we can. Now we know each other much better and we are very comfortable playing together, so I would say it is going very well.
7- You have received an impressive number of awards from competitions. Does any one particularly stand out for you?
All of them in a different way but I would say the Guilford Symphony Orchestra Soloist award because it allowed me to play for first time as a soloist with an orchestra.
8- What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?
The time I spent with SQ4, my Spanish saxophone quartet. We did many things together and we even used to share a flat. The good thing is that we are sure we will play together again in the future because now it is a little bit difficult due to each of us being in a different part of Europe.
9- How often do your practice?
Every day, it is rare the day that I don’t practice althought when for some reason I cannot practice or I rest for one day, it feels good.
10- Would you consider teaching in the future?
Of course, I am teaching at the moment and I have been teaching for around 6 years. I love to teach and teaching is something that I don’t want to stop to do.
11- Who would your dream accompanist be, from the present or past?
Now I have my friend the pianist Prajna Indrawati, and although she is not strictly my accompanist because we are a duo and we play music for two equal instruments, I would choose her.
12- What advice would you give to young musicians at the start of their journey?
The most important thing is working hard and being intelligent choosing what do you want to do and where do you want to go. Always ask yourself why and if you can get something positive out of it. Do it.