Making music is artistry that must be passed on`
Rafael Serrallet started playing the guitar at the age of 12. The world renowned musician, now 46, has performed in over 70 countries. His debut performance to an international audience wasin Panama in 1992. He says he should only be referred to as a classical musician and that music is in his soul, not his mind. Dawn caught up with Mr Serrallet during his recent visit to Islamabad.Q:What do you enjoy most, playing guitar or teaching music? A: I do not differentiate between the two. I do it out of love for music and they both complement each other. Making music is artistry and one must pass it on rather than keeping it to oneself. Both are part of my life. When I play music, my goal is not to please anyone; I try to bring out the best in me. I did not choose music for living or travelling, it chose me and now I do not have a choice.[TOP]
Q: What kind of music from around the world has inspired you the most? A: It will be unfair to name just one country but I would say the music from Latin countries is more exciting for me, especially Brazil. Every time I travel in the region, it is like coming home. I have also been a regular visitor to Morocco and Palestine and conduct workshops and play there as well. Infusing with music from different countries is not only satisfying but an achievement in itself.
Q: Where have you enjoyed performing the most? A: I would say central Europe, in countries like Romania, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary where the music has passed on from one generation to another. They understand and enjoy music on a different level.
However, there is one particular performance which is unforgettable.A friend of mine once asked me if I would like to perform for inmates in one of the Spanish prisons during Christmas and I said yes. When I went to the penitentiary, I was guided to a small room with 15 inmates sitting in a circle and I was thinking, what would they know about classical music. But it was an unbelievable connection between me and the prisoners. It was magic and I was well rewarded. I could not thank my friend enough for organising it.
Q: Do you think the audience for classical music has declined over the years? A: I believe it has, like for any other forms of art. We are in a race now; I want it all and I want it now. Most of us are taking medicines for anxiety and depression and very few of us are going to museums to appreciate art or reading a book or writing poetry. Or even appreciating a long walk, the beauty of mountains and the humming of birds. No one has time for this anymore.
Q: How much has technology changed the way musicians play guitars? A: I would say not a lot. Technology has no doubt helped improve the quality of guitars but it has not transformed it as such.
Nowadays, many soundtracks are made with a fake orchestra and composers can make changes like making sounds louder or softer.
There are even automatic pianos which are available in the marketbut the guitar is one instrument, and may be the only one, which can still not be imitated.
By Bilal Agha