I was born in Caracas to parents sensitive to the arts. My father was a polemic writer who lived a tormentous life. Sadly he died in 2000 at the age of 64. My parents divorced when I was very young , so my mother raised my sister Valentina, and I in the best possible way that a mother can: with lots of love, sacrificing her time, and taking me to music school from the age of 7.
I had a great childhood, fantastic and fun training, although strict, at the Conservatorio Juan José Landaeta, located in a beautiful old villa within a residential area of the city.
There were some good old grand pianos and a lovely smell of polished woods and exotic plants. There was a friendly atmosphere and my very elegant piano teacher, Guiomar Narváez introduced me to the great composers through a diet of lots of studies by Hanon, Czerny and the whole spectrum of the European repertoire. She had studied in Caracas and in Vienna. My harmony teacher was composer Angel Sauce, who also the director of the Conservatory.
When I was sixteen I participated in an audition organized by Carlos Díaz Sosa, the judges Michael Gough Matthews and Barbara Boissard had flown in from the UK. I remember playing a Prelude and Fugue from the Book II of the W.T.C. by J.S. Bach, Chopin Study Op.10 No 1, Reflets dans l’eau by Debussy. They granted me a scholarship to come to study at London’s Royal College of Music and it was decided that I should have Phyllis Sellick as my teacher. I am ever so grateful to them!
I spent a year at the Junior Department and six at the senior. Phyllis Sellick was my mentor, she was so inspirational, a combination of intellect and imagination, Romanticism and rigour. She had studied with Isidor Phillip and Maurice Ravel in Paris. As an adult, Rachmaninov was one of her close acquaintances. She was sweet, very intelligent and had the highest standards in piano playing I have ever come across. All the major English composers dedicated piano works to her including Arthur Bliss, Michael Tippet and Vaughan Williams.
Paul Badura-Skoda, Regina Smendzianka and Niel Immelman have also inspired me with their knowledge of piano playing and have had a fundamental influence on me as keep having my pianists friends such as Barry Douglas.
I love playing abroad, but it can also be a bit daunting; the music you play and love at home might not be what people of different cultures might like, or so I used to think. Going to far away countries and cultures like exotic India, Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Egypt to play a mixture of European and Latin American music used to worry me a little, but taught me that people everywhere are eager and happy to receive it. Playing in Europe or the United States has also been really interesting and enriching.
I greatly enjoy performing solo recitals, as well as being a soloist with orchestras; playing with incredibly talented musicians in ensembles of Classical or Latin American music is always fulfilling and an infinite learning curve.
Sharing the stage with actors as I have with Karin Fernald or Alberto Rowinski in productions of our own such as “Liszt in petticoats” (dedicated to Teresa Carreño) and “Con-cierto humor” has been lovely because I have learnt from their artistic field to listen to the way they deliver their lines so beautifully.
“Gypsy Ballade” was another fantastic show that I loved producing and performing alongside Marisela Romero and José Manuel Garzón, actors/dancers that came from Spain. It was inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca’s poetry, songs and life mixed with readings from his journals, in English, by Karen Fernald and a fabulous stage decor by French artist Jacques Iselin. I played a number of piano pieces from the Andalusian region of Spain.
In 2011 I was very fortunate in that I wrote and performed my own “Franz Liszt” ; this took place in Caracas with fantastic actor Caridad Canelón and narrated by Miguel Delgado-Estévez , a really beautiful experience.
In relation to music and words, I have a dream of producing in the near future The Passionate Life of Isaac Albeniz which will be based on a script written by Trader Faulkner.
Recording CDs is also part of my activities, I find that making them is immensely rewarding but also very difficult. Up to now I have produced and recorded five Venezuelan music CDs, another one of Late Piano Works by Chopin, and the piano music by Ernesto Lecuona.
I am particularly fond of the release El Cuarteto and me produced of a live concert performed in Caracas five years ago, it is a collection of dances and songs from Venezuela.
Frequently I am asked to participate in interviews on the radio, the written press and on TV; the programme In Tune on BBC 3 is one of the loveliest to do because one both plays, and talks ‘live’ on it. As a child, my first ever TV live performance was done in Caracas where I remember playing two very fast Scarlatti Sonatas; then I had fun appearing next to pianist Rosario Marciano as well as playing on a TV programme dedicated to the history of the piano at the Museo del Teclado of Caracas.
In 1993 up to 1998 I founded and directed a music festival in Caracas at the Teatro San Martín. It was wonderful to see the project come to life in an area of Caracas where before there had not been any music.
Lately I curated, produced and directed the Clara Rodriguez Bolivar Hall Concert Series in London and the “Legendary Piano Festival of Caracas” to celebrate the aquisition of a fabulous concert grand-Steinway that belonged first to the Royal Festival Hall and now lives in the Sala José Félix Ribas. Something I am very proud of as I had the responsability of finding the piano and organizing every detail of the festival.
Composers such Federico Ruiz, Miguel Astor, Adrián Suárez, Mirtru Escalona, Lawrence Casserley, Michael Rosas Cobián and Juan Carlos Núñez have written and dedicated pieces to me, for that gesture I am deeply grateful and I have tried to do justice to their marvellous effort and creative talent by recording and playing their music in public concerts. Sometimes as publishing editor as in the case of the Pieces for Children under 100 years of age by Federico Ruiz (Spartan Press and The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)
I have enjoyed playing a dozen solo recitals and concerts with friends at the Southbank Centre, some others at Wigmore Hall, St. Martin-In-The-Fields and a number of concertos at St. John’s Smith Square, including Ravel in G, Rachmaninov 3rd, Schumann in A minor, Nights in the Gardens of Spain and Federico Ruiz’s Second Piano Concerto.
I have also produced and performed “In the mood for tango”, “Tangoitis”, “Monnlight Sonata by Candlelight”, “Latin Bach” and “Appassionata Sonata by Candlelight”.
For the last eight years I have taught the piano at the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music of London, an activity that gives me much joy and allows me to be in touch with lovely emerging talents.
I consider myself very lucky to count with wonderful passionate artists that work lovingly on my leaflets, CD covers and general image such as the photographers Antolín Sánchez, Jean-Luc Muller and Sogand Bahram, graphic designers Carlos David and Gabriella Bello and dress designer Valentina Rodríguez.
My CDs are available on the Nimbus Records label from: http://www.wyastone.co.uk/all-labels/nimbus/classical.html?instrumentalist=2499 or from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Clara-Rodriguez/e/B004RV4JQE/ref=ac_dpt_sa_bio
You can listen to some of my recordings or live performances on my Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Venpianista
You can also communicate with me through:
My website http://www.clararodriguez.com
and my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pianoclararodriguez?ref=hl