My songs help me learn about life and the people close to me

20 July 2022, 2:00

My songs help me learn about life and the people close to me

As part of the Ibérica Festival, Catalan singer-songwriter Magalí Sare performed with guitarist Sebastià Gris from Mallorca on 17 June 2022 in Brno. The following interview was conducted immediately after the concert.

Magalí, your Brno concert included both your originals and folk songs. How do these two disciplines differ for you?

M: Today it is practically the same for me, because I can appreciate my own compositions. I used to think that if I sing a folk song, it’s something better, because these songs are more precious to me, more pure. But now I realize that just as I, a particular person, write a song, another particular person wrote a folk song, perhaps a few centuries ago. We are the same ordinary people, just in different contexts. That’s also why we alternate between folk songs and our own songs in concerts.

Sebastià, how is working on folk and original repertoire different for you?

S: Whether I’m accompanying a folk song on guitar or a song by a contemporary author, it always depends on how the song affects me and what it evokes in me. I’m from Mallorca and I know many of our folk songs so well that I don’t think about them at all, and they actually come out of me. So when I write my own song or when I accompany Magalí or someone else, I do everything I can to make my playing flow in the same way. I don’t differentiate between a song that was written two days ago and one that’s been around for centuries. I always try to make sure that I’m playing well and comfortable.

In 2019, you recorded the album A Boy and a Girl together. How would you describe it?

M: A long time ago I studied classical music and then jazz. On this album I wanted to return to chamber classical music. I sang in choirs for a number of years and really enjoyed it. In many European countries it is common for chamber choirs to sing folk songs – this is true in Germany, France, and Catalonia. There is a wide repertoire, but you only work with it in a certain way, and I wanted to try something completely different, I wanted to experiment. So we spent some time looking for the right songs, and in the end we chose a mixture of traditional songs from Mallorca and Catalonia and songs from different classical composers, until we got the special mixture that we offer on the album.

S: It was exciting for me to learn this repertoire because I don’t have a classical background. Playing music by Strauss or Schubert, or pieces by Francis Poulenc or Catalan composer Eudard Toldrà, was a beautiful experience. It was music I had never played or even heard before, and now I had to find the right position for it. But I think we found it because the songs are really beautiful and well written. It was beautiful.

Magalí, I know you also sing a cappella. Does that experience help you in your future work?

M: I have experience singing a cappella from the Mèlt Quartet and also from various choirs. You have to get used to other singers everywhere. You learn to create a sound together, to imitate others, to tune in with others. It’s a demanding discipline, but I love singing a cappella in choirs. But alongside that, I also like to experiment with my voice as a soloist. I like to play with expression and voice color and explore where my limits are. Each of the projects I have been involved in has helped me to improve.

magali_sare_a_sebastia_gris_foto_milan_tesar 

In addition to your collaboration with Sebastià Gris, you also recorded an album with double bassist Manel Fortià. How is it different for you to play with a guitarist and to play with a double bassist?

That’s a beautiful question. When I sing with the double bassist Manel Fortià, I feel terribly far away from him in terms of sound. Because the double bass sounds very deep, while my voice corresponds to a light soprano, and therefore sounds high. So in this collaboration I feel that distance between the two of us and I like it very much. When I sing with the double bass, I like to use different percussion, or even the sound of the body of the double bass as a percussion instrument. But I also like it when Sebastià accompanies me on guitar. He can harmonize with my voice, so I can alternate between tuning in with the guitar and moving away from its sound. And that’s quite fun. I like both of those formats, but each one is completely different. Me and Sebastià also use electronics, while my vocals with the double bass sound very raw. So I like to experiment in different ways.

I noticed during the concert that you experiment with electronic accompaniment as well. Is everything in this respect prepared in advance or is it partly improvisation?

S: When you use analogue electronics, you never know what will happen. Or rather – you know what’s going to happen, but each time it happens a little bit differently. It’s not exactly programmed, and it shouldn’t be. The beauty of it is just the unpredictability. It’s like a little animal that lives its life, and you just know it’s going to do something. It’s like you have a little kid and you just make sure that something doesn’t happen to him. It’s fun. As a guitar player, I improvise when I play, but to written music. For example, we know we have to get from point A to point B and somewhere in between there should be a volcanic eruption. But we have no idea when exactly it’s going to blow. And that’s the fun of it.

Magalí, your latest album is called Esponja. You also played from it at the concert. I read that you were inspired by the women in your family...?

M: The concept of the album Esponja – which means “sponge” – is as follows: As young children we were very vulnerable and also impressionable. Because we didn’t know anything about life, we absorbed a lot of information. In fact, we were sponges... In this way a child learns, and it is possible that he gets something into himself that is not his own later on. Then you think: I don’t want to be like this or like that. And you have to work on yourself to change that. A lot of things that I absorbed in my childhood came to the surface on this album. The songs helped me learn about life, about myself, about the people I love. And these people close to me included my mother and my older sister in the beginning, and now my little niece. I watch her now, how quickly she learns, and she takes me back to my childhood. Because of all these people, the album Esponja came out.

Esponja is musically very different from your previous albums or what we heard in Brno.

M: My recent musical projects have been so minimalistic that this time I decided to make a much more arranged and produced album.

Sebastià, you are also featured on the album. So how much did you participate in its preparation?

S: Magalí and I live together. I’ve watched her prepare this album for a long time and how desperate she is that she can’t find the time to set the lyrics she had prepared to music. And then we got a piano and Magalí jumped on it and composed all the songs in one go. It took her maybe a week, and the whole album was finished. What followed was very interesting. I wasn’t directly involved in the production of the album, but I was there the whole time with Magalí and the producer Pau Brugada. He’s an amazing person by the way, who I admire a lot as a musician. I just stood by, played with them here and there and watched what was being created.

M: As Sebastià said, I had a lot of lyrics written. Actually several notebooks full... When I went into the studio earlier, I knew exactly what to do. I had written out the notes for each musician. In the case of Esponja, we did a lot of composing in the studio, working on the final sound, arranging... And Pau Brugada is a really amazing musician.

On the Esponja album you sing in Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese, and at the concert you did a bravura encore of the Moravian Vínečko bílé. I suppose you must enjoy singing in different languages.

M: I like singing in different languages, which doesn’t mean that I can speak all of them. But I always try to understand the lyrics as if they were written in my mother tongue. I’m learning Portuguese, for example, and I love that language, but I also sing in German, even though I don’t speak German. But when I sing a German song, I have to believe what I am singing. Before I learn such a song, I need to translate the lyrics, then I recite it like a poem, I get in touch with it. I enjoy it a lot.

Sebastià, you released a solo instrumental album last year, Llorer, clau i canyella. Do you see your own compositions for guitar as stories?

S: When I compose my own instrumental songs for guitar, they are kind of “anti-stories” for me. I don’t try to come up with a context or a storyline for them. I shut myself in an empty room with just my guitar and try to create something. I’m happy when I get an idea. Then I try to develop it until it becomes my new song. It’s like a game of hide-and-seek. A melody peeks out at me from somewhere and I don’t know where it’s going. I have to go after it and find it where it’s hiding. But I’m not making up stories. Yes, I’ve tried to write my own lyrics a few times and I’ll definitely try again, but that’s a whole other discipline. When we talk about an instrumental album, that’s just my guitar playing.

In June, the album Esponja was ranked sixth in the prestigious World Music Charts Europe, which, by the way, is one of the greatest achievements for Catalan music in the history of the chart, which is compiled by radio journalists from all over Europe. Is such an achievement important to you?

M: It’s definitely important to me. Actually, I don’t know what to say, it was a surprise for me. I know that my publisher is trying very hard to get my music out to other countries, and I’m very grateful for that. Thanks to him, listeners in different countries know my music. So I thank Microscopi and I am very happy for that.

Comments

Reply

No comment added yet..

The Latvian instrumental band Very Cool People recently released an album with the long title 50 Years of Influence + 30 Years of Cool Equals 13 Years of Music Hooliganism. In a few days they will come to Brno to present it – they’ll play on 17th September in Music Lab club. And besides the songs from the aforementioned album, you’ll also get to hear the complete new songs from the yet-to-be-released projects. The band, led by guitarist Elvijs Grafcovs, who answers our questions, has plenty of them.  more

After a covid break, the streets of Brno were once again filled with costumes from various parts of Moravia as well as other European countries. On the first day of September, the International Folklore Festival Brno began. Like the vast majority of festivals and regular events that could not take place in the last two years, the IFF also had a break due to government measures. And that is why this year’s festival chose the telling subtitle “We Live”. This time BROLN provided the opening concert in the courtyard of the New Town Hall, and there were two special reasons for this.  more

At the penultimate concert of its tenth year jubilee staged in the Fresco Room of the Comenium Elementary School, the Olomouc Baroque Festival presented an evening with the Musica Florea ensemble. The musicians, conducted by cellist Marek Štryncl, performed a selection of compositions by forgotten classical and early romantic composers Karl Kohaut, Jan Ladislav Dusík and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. The choice of composers was not random – this year it is 210 years since Dusík’s death and 185 years since Hummel’s death. Performing with the ensemble’s core members – violinist Magdalena Malá and Simona Tydlitátová, violist Lýdie Cillerová, cellist Marek Štryncl and bass player Ondřej Štajnochra – was Petra Matějová on the fortepiano.  more

The album Zavrzlama by Bosnian band Divanhana is so far in continuous sequence, the second best world recording of 2022 according to the panel of radio publicists of World Music Charts Europe. Divanhana will perform as part of the Lednice-Valtice Music Festival on 26 August in Hlohovec and a day later in Břeclav – Charvátská Nová Ves. The band’s pianist, Neven Tunjíč, is here to answer our questions.  more

On 18 and 19 August, the tenth anniversary edition of the Olomouc Baroque Music Festival included a unique dramaturgical treat in its program – one of the most historically important Czech operas which, however, does not appear much on the stages of opera houses or music halls. This is Dráteník (The Tinker), the first original Czech opera composed by František Škroup to a libretto by Josef Krasoslav Chmelenský. It was directed by Kateřina Křivánková, with costumes and set by Sylva Marková and music by Marek Čermák, and performed by the Volantes Orchestra, the festival’s resident ensemble. Singing roles were taken up by Matúš Šimko (Dráteník/Škroup), Lenka Cafourková Ďuricová (Růžena), Vincenc Ignác Novotný (Vojtěch), Zuzana Badárová (Liduška), Aleš Janiga (Květenský), Jiří Miroslav Procházka (Lána), and Martin Vodrážka (Kůl). The purely dramatic roles of Chmelenský – the aforementioned author of the libretto – and Hranatý the guard were played by Martin Mihál. The reviewer visited the premiere performance.  more

For the seventh time, the multi-genre music festival Brno Music Marathon proved that with precise organization and a little luck, an astonishing amount of music can be packed into one long weekend. From Thursday to Sunday (11-14 August), selected music halls, squares, courtyards, and city streets were filled with the artistic creations of countless bands, ensembles, and specific musical groups of all genres and styles. Lovers of rock, world music, jazz, artistic music, folklore, and improvised music were in for a treat. However, this year’s edition differed from the previous one in one crucial respect: 2022 introduced the first ever artist in residence of the festival, the violinist, flautist, and pianist Anna Fusekmore

For the sixth time, the Music Marathon has stirred up the streets, squares, and many spaces in Brno with all sorts of musical genres. These are not necessarily just concert venues, however. The Hausopera ensemble, for example, took their opera The Eternal Miss Pale to the Zeman Café on Friday 12 August. In three weekend performances there, they will complete their “Trilogy for the City”, a custom-made project for Brno that recalls its pros, cons, and above all some of its functionalist buildings.  more

As part of the Ibérica Festival, Catalan singer-songwriter Magalí Sare performed with guitarist Sebastià Gris from Mallorca on 17 June 2022 in Brno. The following interview was conducted immediately after the concert.  more

Just like every year, the Znojmo Music Festival brought its visitors an opera of its own production. For this year's 18th edition, subtitled Returning Home and Our Guardian Angels, the organizers prepared a stage performance of Joseph Haydn's oratorio The Return of Tobias. The Old Testament story about a tested marriage and a blind father was performed by the Czech Ensemble Baroque under the baton of Roman Válek and directed by Tomáš Ondřej Pilař at the premiere on 15 July 2022 (this performance was visited by this author) in the riding hall of the Louka Monastery – the reprise and last performances will take place on the following two days. Shira Patchornik (Sarah), Lucie Kaňková (d'Azaria), Dagmar Šašková (Anna), Theodore Browne (Tobias), and Adam Plachetka (Tobit) performed the solo roles. Costumes were designed by Ivana Ševčíková Miklošková, choreography by Martin Šinták, and lighting design by Tomáš Příkrýmore

Last year they were the stars of Brasil Fest Brno. This year they will be welcomed to Náměšt’ nad Oslavou, where they will perform on 25 July at the Folk Holidays as part of an evening called Poetry in Every Song. In the meantime, they have played at the WOMEX world music fair in Portugal and the sold-out spring festival Budapest Ritmo. Above all, they were awarded the prestigious prize of Songlines magazine, today’s most respected periodical in world music. They call themselves Ayom, and alongside Brazilian singer Jabu Morales, they are made up of musicians from Angola, Greece, and Italy. Our questions were answered by accordionist and composer Alberto Becucci, guitarist Pedro Bastos João, and of course the charismatic singer and drummer.  more

On Friday, 29 July, at the Folk Holidays in Náměšt’ nad Oslavou, the group L’Alba from Corsica will perform, combining traditional Mediterranean polyphony with the music of many nations, not only from southern Europe. Its album A Principiu, released last March, was voted by the World Music Charts Europe jury as the sixth best album from around the world in 2021. guitarist and vocalist Ghjuvanfrancescu Mattei answers our questions on behalf of L’Alba.  more

This year’s 27th edition of the Concentus Moraviae Festival is history after almost a month of music. The gala closing concert at the Zlín Congress Centre presented a program of songs by Ernest Chausson, Igor Stravinsky, Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss, Leoš Janáček and Antonín Dvořák. Magdalena Kožená, mezzo-soprano and patron of the show, performed as a soloist. She was joined by pianist and conductor Sir Simon Rattle, flutist and this year’s Artist in Residence Kaspar Zehnder, violinist Giovanni Guzzo, violinist Rahel Maria Rilling, violist Amihai Grosz, cellist Dávid Adorján, and clarinettist Christopher Richards. Dvořák’s songs were specially arranged for this ensemble by the English composer and conductor Duncan Ward.  more

This year's 27th edition of the Concentus Moraviae Music Festival is slowly coming to a grand finale as a joint concert by flutist and artist in residence Kaspar Zehnder, mezzo-soprano and patron of the festival Magdalena Kožená, and her husband, pianist and conductor Sir Simon Rattle. On Friday 24 June, at one of the last concerts of the culminating festival, artist-in-residence Kaspar Zehnder, together with his friends Giovanni Guzzo (violin), Rahel Maria Rilling (violin), Amihai Grosz (viola), Dávid Adorján (cello), Wolfgang Klinser (clarinet), and Anaïs Gaudemard (harp), prepared the dramaturgy of Friday's chamber concert in the library of the Náměšť Castle.  more

Nikol Bóková, a native of Ostrava, has long been considered a unique talent in the field of classical music. At the age of nine, she played as a solo pianist with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, and studying at the conservatory and then at the JAMU was a matter of course. But already during her studies of classical music, another of her talents, that of composition, took shape and gradually manifested itself. Together with her trio (Nikol Bóková-piano, Martin Kocián-contrabass, Michal Wierzgoń-drums), she recorded her debut album Inner Place in 2019 and immediately established herself among the Czech (and indeed European) jazz elite. Two more projects followed during the cover – Unravel (2020) for the same named line-up and last year’s Prometheus, recorded with extraordinary commitment by a remarkable studio line-up. Out of this and several subsequent concerts (among others during JazzFest Brno last autumn) crystallized also the quite logical expansion of her trio with the versatile and empathetic guitarist David Dorůžka, the Nikol Bóková Quartet. This line-up was also the birthplace of the latest album Elements, with which a new creative phase opens for Nikol and her partner and co-creator Jan Vala.  more

On 22 June, the Ensemble Opera Diversa visited the atrium of the Faculty of Arts at Masaryk University on Arne Novák Street with the program Dances in the Gardens, which continued the series of outdoor projects started last year. Bassoonist Pavel Horák and marimba player Martin Švec performed as soloists. The concert was conducted by conductor Patrik Červák, who stood in front of the Ensemble Opera Diversa string orchestra for the very first time.  more

Editorial

The Concert for Brno aims to support the construction of an organ for the new concert hall. It will be broadcast live on Czech Television and Czech Radio. The evening will feature violinist Josef Špaček, pianist Ivo Kahánek, the B-Side Band, and legendary opera singer Soňa Červená.  more

The musical Nine Crosses was written especially for the Brno Municipal Theatre. The story tells an old Moravian legend about a tragic act that took place in a small village near Velká Bíteš. The music for the musical was composed by Brno composer Robin Schenk while the script was written by Petr Štěpán and Miroslav Ondra. The world premiere of the new musical will be brought to the stage by director Petr Gazdík.  more

This year the Faculty of Music of the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts (JAMU) is again organising the prestigious International Leoš Janáček Competition in Brno. Young musicians will perform on the piano and organ at the 28th edition of this competition. The final rounds of the organ competition will take place in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and in the Besední dům in the piano competition, accompanied by the Czech Virtuosi Orchestra under the direction of conductor Stanislav Vavřínek.  more

The Actors’ Association published the nominations for the Thalia Awards 2022 today. Several of them were awarded to actors and singers from Brno theatres.  more

Singer Hana Zagorová died today. She was 75. Zagorová came from Ostrava, but her education and early artistic career are closely associated with Brno. From 1965 to 1969 she studied acting at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts.  more

The first year of the international Jewish culture festival ŠTETL FEST 2022 begins on Friday. In its content and scope it will be the biggest Jewish culture festival in the Czech Republic. The festival’s programme will offer lectures, theatre performances, guided tours and several concerts. Some of those performing will be the Avishai Cohen Trio, Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi, Graffe String Quartet or Dominika Weiss Hošková. The festival will close with the Brundibár children’s opera performed by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cantilena choir. The motto of the entire event is “Dignity in Diversity”.  more

The Janáček Opera Company of the National Theatre Brno is calling an audition for a dancer for a role in the preparation of Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow. The NTB will be staging the operetta directed by Magdalena Švecová and Martin Pacek, who will also be doing the choreography.  more

In addition to concerts, the international festival also includes events such as Kateřina Šedá’s Streetless Busking and the Marathon Street Food Festival. The festival’s artist in residence is multi-instrumentalist Anna Fusek. The event will also include a meeting of journalists from the prestigious World Music Charts Europe. The Brno Music Marathon is a key music event for the city of Brno as part of its membership of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for Music.  more

A unique opportunity to play on one stage with such piano personalities as Renata Lichnovská Ardaševová or David Mareček is offered to all pianists, regardless of age and musical background, by a special and extremely popular event of the Brno Music Marathon called PIANOSTAFETA.  more

The multi-genre festival On the Boards, Pavement, and Grass will come of age this year, so the organizers from TIC BRNO have extended it for a whole week. More than 25 theatre performances and concerts can be seen and experienced for free in the open air in the center of Brno.  more