Musician of the Month: Marta Ramirez
I began playing the violin at the age of 8, in my hometown Pamplona in Spain. I studied there until I was 20, and then moved to London to continue my education at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. From a very early age I felt a deep passion for music and dance, and I was so lucky that my family gave me the opportunity to explore both fields, which I feel so related to each other as well. It took me a long while to decide to go into music professionally though! But I can say that I love the depth with which I live music nowadays, and… I still feel as if I began playing the violin for the first time every day! New fields of awareness open up constantly. My first attempt at a historically informed way of playing happened when I first started working on Bach’s solo sonatas and partitas. At that time I had no historical performance background at all and nobody to ask about it. My teacher gave me Rachel Podger’s recording of Bach and I was very moved by her sound. Then I got a baroque bow and started looking for the kind of sound that my intuition dictated. (I was told off for playing solo Bach with a modern instrument and a baroque bow in an exam…). One month after my start at Trinity Laban, I took part in a Beethoven project lead by my current teacher Walter Reiter, it was one of the most inspiring projects I had ever done. Then I started learning with Walter and since then I am very grateful for his guide and inspiration.
Why do you enjoy playing music from the baroque period?
My relationship with the music from this period is very special, and it goes back to my childhood. I remember listening to lots of Vivaldi and Bach violin concertos when I travelled for long hours with my family by car. I was very little, and had barely started playing the violin, but I still remember today the impression that these harmonies and textures had on me, how much they moved me all over again. I believe that my affinity to this period goes back to that time: these travelling hours infused my body and soul with all this beautiful music and it is now deeply ingrained in my system! And as I developed musically, I realised how much this music was connected with my natural intuition. Then I found I could be instinctive, natural and creative interpreting it, and therefore free to express. I find it so meaningful and deeply connected with the huge array of emotions that the human being can experience. I love the freedom this music offers, in a way that not everything is specified on the score, but it is all there anyway… I love the fact that there is no need for thousands of markings, and that it is our job to decipher where, why, how the music develops. Another feature I truly enjoy is the way the ensembles and orchestras work. The level of awareness and “playing as one” is just so amazing. And last but not least: I love playing on an original instrument. I feel I can find so many colours, shapes and qualities with the gut strings and these bows…
The May-August 2013 event theme is Domestic Music. Could you tell us why you think the baroque violin and harpsichord work so well together in this context?
Apart from the specifically written pieces for this combination as the Bach obbligato sonatas for violin and harpsichord, the continuo sonatas and small ensemble music can be done as well on these two instruments in a Baroque salon.
What do you enjoy most about performing Handel’s pieces?
The thing I love most about Handel’s music is the wide range of human emotions always present in his music. In the violin sonata that I am performing this July, I have found how the music goes from one idea, emotion or statement to very different places as in conversation. As a violin player I am used to singing beautiful melodies… and then Handel offers a different way of approaching a “melody”. I also enjoy the shadows of different national styles that always infuse Handel’s music…
Why do you feel that Handel House is such an enjoyable space in which to perform?
I have always enjoyed intimate and cosy spaces when performing. I love it when I can relate to the audience as individuals, as if it were a one to one conversation. I feel at ease when I share the same space where they are: no big stages, no big distances – then I feel we are all part of the performance and it is much easier to convey what I want to transmit through my music.