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Pedro López Salas - Piano

Interview

1- You are currently studying for the Master of Performance with Professor Norma Fisher at the Royal College of Music in London. How is this progressing?

This is progressing really well, I am extremely happy and honored to work with professor Norma Fisher, and I am excited about all our work together, the few that is already done, but specially for all the things to come. Being in the Royal College of Music with full scholarship is something very important for me, and I love going there to practice as well as to receive lessons of the other modules I chose, conducting and composition.

2- Is your family musical?

No, my family is not musical. My grandfather used to play violin, but not as a full-time job. My father was football player, so since I was young, I was used to go to train football really seriously until one day I decided by myself I wanted to be a pianist. I was 9 years old then, and I thought like this because I loved listening to my grandfather playing the violin, and also I watched Tom&Jerry cartoons, and I loved the music the cat played with his piano, Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies.

3- You have won many awards and competitions. Does anyone particularly stand out for you?

Well, emotionally, I would say the one of “Ciudad de Albacete” National Piano Competition. I am from this Spanish city, and this competition is such a reference for the Spanish pianism, maybe the most important National Piano Competition in Spain, all the good pianists of Spain came from this competition. I remember attending to all the editions of the competitions since I was a child, I listened to everybody playing, and for me it was such an event to attend. I even skipped my lessons to go there and not miss anyone playing. I saw such a lot of incredible pianists who, for me, they were such a models to follow then. So, it is not complicated to imagine how I feel when I won this competition, to actually see myself in this place like all this people I saw before, and not only with the First Prize, but with all the special prizes: best Beethoven performance, best Chopin performance and best Spanish music performance. Technically, I won every single prize, and actually I was, and still I am, the only Albacete born person to win the Albacete National Piano Competition in all its 40 editions they have made. Also, I could highlight the First Prize on the “Cesar Frank” International Piano Competition of Bruxelles, where Dimitri Bashkirov was president of the jury, and he was really happy with me. It was important for me to see such a piano master recognizing my work. Actually, some of my friends of “Reina Sofía” Music School of Madrid told me he was talking so much about me to his and her students, like saying he just attended a competition who won a pianist he really liked... it was so special moment for me. Also two days ago, I won two prizes in the International Piano Competition “City of Vigo”: prize for the best Spanish pianist and also prize for the best Spanish music performer. This competition had so many competence, around 300 people applied, 67 were selected, 23 came to the semifinal and 12 went to the final. I am happy that I went through the final and I got this prizes, as it is a competition without age limit and the jury was highly prestigious: Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire, Sergio Tiempo, etc.

4- You recently finished your studies with Professor Mariana Gurkova in the CSKG (“Centro Superior Katarina Gurska”) of Madrid. How inspiring was this master and institution in your development?

Mariana Gurkova was a great inspiration for me. Before being his student, I was going through a difficult musical moment in my life, I felt like I was not progressing the way I wanted and I felt stagnant. Mariana was a great inspiration for me in this moment and I learnt a lot with her, making the progress that I wanted to make, and helping me to move forward.

5- One of your compositions, that of the Hymn of the “Bachiller Sabuco Historical Institute” of Albacete, has received numerous awards. Can you tell us more of the story and thinking behind a composition dedicated to an institution that clearly has a meaning for you?

Bachiller Sabuco “Historical Institute” did not have this qualification when I did there my baccalaureate. It was one of the oldest Institutes of my region, Castilla-La Mancha. Ana Rodríguez Vera was her director, she appreciated me very much, she always came to listen to my concerts, etc. One day, she told me a great new: due to the big relevance of the institute, they were going to award it as “Historical Institute”, one tittle that for the moment, no other institute had in Castilla-La Mancha. She immediately thought that, in that case, they will need an Hymn, and she had the idea to propose it to me. I was studying composition in this time as an optative module, and of course I accepted the proposal. I composed a French overture of a baroque orchestral suite with chorus (to add some lyrics), and it was really well received. They loved it, so we made a professional recording with all the Young Orchestra of Albacete, we made a premiere with it and I received awards for it. It was an special moment not only for the awards, but for have being the composer of this Institute I was a student in, now they play it in all official events and it is actually my music!

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

I think I have already described two of them, but now I would like to add two more. 4 years ago, I performed in the “Palau de la Música” of Valencia, as a soloist with the “Orquesta de Valencia”, Prokofiev third piano concert. This was so special because the hall is great and the orchestra is also amazing. One week before my concert, I traveled there to watch the concert of Grigory Sokolov, in the same place I was about to play in one week. The concert was magnificent, and after it, I went to his dressing room to ask for a photo with him. Of course, the concert hall was full. One week after it, I arrive to this concert hall, and they gave me the same dressing room that the one where G. Sokolov was one week ago. I was already really excited about this, for me this was just a privilege itself. Then, when I went to the rehearsal, they told me the piano is new, it was only played by G. Sokolov the week before. I was so thrilled by this experience. Then the moment of the concert came, and, for my surprise, the concert hall was, again, full. It was not only my concert, the orchestra played the second half with a debut of some Mexican work, so I guess it was an interesting concert, first a young soloist, and then a premiere. My performance was really a success, the audience applauded me so much, and I was that focused on the Prokofiev that I could not think of preparing and encore. It was my first time I made a concert and I did not prepare an encore. The conductor told me I should play some encore as people was so enthusiastic, and then I played it. I did not have anything prepared, just the morning of the concert I played once “Liebesleid” of Kreisler-Rachmaninov, that was on my program, but I decided it was not prepared, as the last time I played it was months before the concert. Anyway, I was that happy to see people enjoying that I came on stage to play “Liebesleid”, and nowadays, I can surprisingly say it is one of the best recordings I have (actually, it was the one that Ms. Maxton shared on Facebook to announce I was a newcomer of Talent Unlimited). This is the power of emotions! Also, I would highlight my concert with the ROSS (“Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla”) in the “Teatro de la Maestranza” of Sevilla. This is also a high prestigious hall, masters like Zimmerman, Kissin, Sokolov, Volodos, etc. play there and also this orchestra is one of the main orchestras in Spain. I played Liszt second concert and it was really successful, it was a special moment for me.

7- How often do your practice?

I usually practice everyday, but not with a specific timetable. Sometimes I can work for plenty of hours a day (6,7 more or less) and sometimes I don’t play at all and relax doing another things, maybe composing. I depends so much on the events I have. But I would define myself as disciplined and highly (sometimes, insanely) perfectionist, this is something I am not really proud about because sometimes it can get obsessive, but it has the good part that I am always looking for doing the best and I can not stay happy until I do something I really like.

8- Would you consider teaching music in the future?

Actually, I have some young students right now and I love teaching music to people that already know the basics. Expressing what you feel and trying people to understand it while you are helping them is a great feeling.

9- How do you balance your work, study and other commitments?

As I said before, I like to keep a healthy balance. In the past, I was so obsessive worker and that lead me to bad psychological moments... I understand we need to work so much but we need also to do some other activities. In my case, I am such a lover of films, sports, reading, researching in some other areas, psychology...

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

I think young people need to understand the power of music. They live in a time period when we have such a quick access to social media, where we see how successful is everybody, and that can cause some distorted thoughts about the importance of music making. I was a child that was expected to be a football player, I was almost hyperactive and music helped me to find my way. When I discovered it, I immediately knew this was what I was born to. It was like anything before had real sense without it, like finding my personal truth. And results came alone by themselves. I was not super worried on being successful or being awarded so many prizes (even though everybody want this, of course), I was just so amazed of what I can produce with my hands, the way I can express myself, and results started to came by themselves. Of course we need to have goals and motivation and go for them, but always without distorting our real commitment.

submission October 2020

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