Clara Rodriguez, a short biography

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VENPIANISTA

and my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pianoclararodriguez?ref=hl

Clara Rodriguez/Antolin Sanchez photography

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Concert on Monday 1st July 2013 from Argentina to Puerto Rico!

Next Monday 1st July 2013 DO NOT MISS A FANTASTIC CONCERT of Latin American music.

From Tangos to merengues from waltzes to salsa!

Clara Rodriguez, piano

Efrain Oscher, flute

Cristóbal Soto, mandolin, cuatro, guitar

Gabriel León, doublebass

Wilmer Sifontes, percussion

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It will be lovely to see you there. Monday 1 July 2013, 7:30 in the Bolivar Hall of the Venezuelan Embassy: 54-56 Grafton Way, London W1T 5DL, near Warren Street tube station http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/clararodriguezbolivarseries/

Pianoforte: Piano solo improv recital by Leo Blanco at Bolivar Hall

 http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/clararodriguezbolivarseries/Image

Thursday 20 June 2013 at 7.30

Pianoforte: Piano solo improv recital

Pianoforte Improv, is a Solo Piano experience in which improvisations turn into new compositions in front of the audience.

01. Vals #5

A waltz sang in a different tempo. Previously recorded by other musicians and finally, for the first time, by its composer

 

02. Perú Landó

Inspired by Perú Negro, Chabuca Granda and all the exponents of Black Perú, at the same time meditative moments guided by the impressive magic of South America’s Andes which built its way into Afro Perú.

 

03. Tonada del Cabrestero

A flamenco tinge, Venezuelan poetry and music by the great Simón Díaz.

 

04. Dancers

An empty stage, he plays, she laughsthey dance together

 

05. Improvisation I

Cinematic, minimalistic, some darkness, some dreams hidden stories

 

06. Interludio

Just two chords as an intermission

 

07. Desiguales

A frenetic portrait of a blues

 

08. Light over Dark

Started as another improv, later it finds its Light over Dark

 

09. Improvisation II

A story to be told, unexpected intrusion of XVIII century chapel bells, perhaps all the way around ?, chords invading the silence between the rite of the bells

 

10. Roots & Effect

A growing seed surrounded by curious crickets announcing  that it is nightfall

 

11. Haiku for midnight Bells & Piano (last improv)

Lonely bells seduced by subtle piano sounds

 

“Leo Blanco is, at heart, a natural melodist. He hypnotizes the audience with phrases that will long stay with them, even if they’ve only just occurred to him”.

Rob Adams,
The Glasgow Herald

Musical Crossroads -Two Latin American concerts at the Bolívar Hall soon!

On Thusrday 20th June at 7.30 pmImage

Leo Blanco, jazz pianist and composer will play his only London concert before embarking on a tour of Scotland. “Pianoforte Improv”

http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/clararodriguezbolivarseries/

He is a Professor at Berklee College of Music and has deeply studied the Latin American styles exploring the fertile sounds of his homeland and other realms.
As he expands our collective appreciation of these fruitious idioms, he adds the nuance, both subtle and unabashedly overt, of his own distinctive and highly intuitive style.Blanco boasts a wealth of educational background and practical experience in both popular and classical music styles.
Far from just a cursory, jazz-grounded overview of sundry South American music styles, Blanco  focuses on a particularly compelling element — the far-ranging influence of African cultures on the music of these lands. “When most people hear the term ‘Afro-Latin’ in music,” the pianist readily admits, “they immediately think of Cuba and Brazil.
I’ve always loved the music of these two titanic cultures, but I feel is about time to open the door and show the rest of the world how Africa is one of the most significant influencefra2es on today’s popular music throughout the Americas.”

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Clara Rodriguez

The last concert of Clara Rodríguez Bolívar Hall Concert Series will take place on Monday 1 July 2013 at 7.30 pm

From Argentina to Puerto Rico!! will be a musical journey of merengues, tangos, waltzes and joropos from many Latin American countries. It promises to be a feast of  ebullient and exciting dances that will enthral audiences of all ages.

A quintet formed by Clara Rodríguez (piano), Efraín Oscher (flute), Gabriel León (double bass) Cristóbal Soto (mandolin, cuatro and guitar) and Wilmer Sifontes (percussion) will recreate the colours, rhythms, nostalgia and happiness of the whole of South America.

http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/clararodriguezbolivarseries/

The great jazz pianist and composer Leo Blanco on Clara Rodríguez Bolívar Hall Concert Series

In a one London concert before touring Scotland this marvellous Venezuelan jazz pianist and composer will play on Thursday 20th June at 7.30 pm at The Bolívar Hall.

Tickets:£10.00 from
http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/clararodriguezbolivarseries/

Leo Blanco is a Venezuelan pianist, arranger and composer. Leo grew up in Mérida-Venezuela, where from early age he was surrounded by Venezuelan folklore – a blend of African and European musical traditions– as well as jazz, classical music and pop. At the age of 11 he already was a member of the Mérida Youth Symphony Orchestra.

 

After moving to Caracas at the age of 16 he performed and recorded with his own Jazz trio, while studying Improvisation, jazz harmony and piano at the musical Institute “Ars Nova” and University of Musical Studies. Soon he started working with very well-known jazz and Latin pop national artists. There, he shared the stage with major international jazz artist such as Terence Blanchard, Danilo Perez, Pat Metheny, Chucho Valdez (Irakere), Joao Bosco, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

 

His interest in world music and jazz took him to Boston in 1996, where he obtained a full scholarship to study composition and improvisation in both Berklee and then New England Conservatory.  In March 1996, Leo was the first Latin American to win the prestigious “Boston Jazz Society Award”, and in May of the same year, he received the Billboard Grant Award for his “talent, commitment, achievement and other attributes indicating that he is likely to make a significant contribution to society through music. He was also commissioned to write a new piece “End of the Amazonia”  for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

 

He has played with highly acclaimed artists such as Dave Liebman, George Garzone, Luciana Souza, Bob Moses, Dave Samuels, Jamey Haddad, Antonio Sanchez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Jane Bunnett.

 

In the international arena, Leo has been a guest of renowned World Music and Jazz Festivals, such as Newport Jazz Festival (USA), Monterey Jazz Festival (USA), North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), Edinburgh’s International Festival (Scotland), Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Kobe Jazz Festival (Japan), Festival de Música (Brazil), Festival Latino Americano (Italy), Festival Latino (Italy), Festival Tentarera (Germany), Music Festival de Paleo (Switzerland).

 

Blanco’s most recent Album CD is “AFRICA LATINA’ on the European label Ayva with notable musicians like saxophonist Donny McCaslin, drummer Antonio Sánchez and guitarist Lionel Louke, among others. This new recording is “an excursion through the music hinterland of African music influenced on Venezuela, Colombia and Peru.”

 

Leo Blanco is a pianist who has mastered the bebop lexicon while also paying homage to the rhythms of his nation’s folk music.”
– The Stage, London, England

“In Leo Blanco’s music I hear memory and desire – both his meticulous ear for the varieties of South American tradition”
– Christopher Lydon, NPR U.S.

“When you listen to Leo play it just blows you away while motivates you. He just inspires and gives you new sensations”…..
World Pianist and Composer Danilo Perez (Wayne Shorter)

“It is some of the most fresh and moving music I’ve heard in a long time. Leo Blanco has a gift for melody and his playing is just as special”
-Donald Brown (Master pianist: Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers) 

Tickets:£10.00 from
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