Young Artists Autumn Showcase: Isabel Villanueva Q&A

Tuesday 6th September 2011

RCM student Isabel will be performing viola works that reflect her love of contemporary viola performance. Here she answers some questions and talks about her musical background ahead of the WildKat PR Showcase.

At what age did you first take up the viola?

I was 9 years old, but before that I started with guitar at the age of 6.

How much practice do you do every day?

It depends on what I am preparing; concerts, competitions… but music is my life. It also depends on my daily schedule. I have music in my mind most of the day: practicing, thinking, playing.

Do you find it easier or harder to play a recital in heels?

Well, the first time I played with heels was not easy! I always try to find shoes as comfortable as I can. Now heels are a weapon of confidence and feminity on stage.

Do you play any sports?

I love sports, particularly watersports. When I have some free time in London I like to go jogging or swimming.

What is your favourite country in Europe to perform in and why?

I will never forget the first time I played at the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona, I felt somehow kind of royal! Warm energies radiated from both the audience and from the historical concert hall. I get a very special feeling in England, where I usually find a very open and dedicated audience, together with the great acoustic of concert halls gives off a pleasant and inspirational atmosphere.

At what age did you realise you were going to take viola performance to a higher level?

It was from the beginning, at 9 or 10 years old that I felt I was able to do something ‘important’ with my feelings and energies in my life. Also, when I discovered the viola after having started music with guitar, I discovered that I found my voice for this.

If you hadn’t gone into performance, what would you have become?

I love arts, and I have been a budding explorer since I was little, but I can’t imagine a life without expressing myself through an instrument.

Who would you most like to perform for?

Music has been created for everybody, and all those who want to share feelings from a masterwork through myself as the personal transfer are enough, whether it be twenty or two thousand people.

Have you got any hobbies?

Reading and visiting museums and art galleries are activities that I do quite often. When I have time in the summer months I love to go sailing.

What is it about contemporary music that you most like?

Contemporary music is a very important part of music as a whole, particularly for the viola, as in the last 50 years or so the viola really expanded as a solo instrument and as a consequence, composers have become more interested and motivated to write music for the viola. I enjoy and find very interesting the works of Gubaidulina and Kancheli.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Five years is long time in music! I try to plan concrete objectives for the near future and squeeze as much as I can into my daily schedule in all aspects of my life. As for my future in the long term, time, together with hard work and luck will say how far I will go in the passionate music world, but energies are not missing inside of me.

What would you say to inspire others to learn the viola?

Viola has always somehow been a mysterious instrument. Historically, it is the oldest string instrument and is the ‘voice’ between the violin and cello and can play notes from both registers. The quality I most appreciate on the viola is the unlimited and contrasting range of palette and nuances in the sound, making you able to look for and transfer the deepest human feelings of composers from the compositions through your soul.

What was your favourite aspect of studying at the Royal College of Music?

As one of the best and oldest music institutions in the world, I am grateful to the RCM who provide me with support and a very flexible and individual approach for my artistic development depending on my aims, through many different teaching and performing opportunities.

Have you ben to any of the BBC Proms this year?

Not yet! I will attend one of them in September, I’m really looking forward to it!

Who inspires you, and why?

I believe that all things in life, if we are open enough, can transfer positive energies and can inspire, depending on the moment; whether it be persons, things or atmospheres.