Five minutes with Alexandre da Costa
Alexandre da Costa is a rising musician who will perform the beautiful Bruch violin concerto as part of the BBC Concert Orchestra's Essential Classics in the Theatre in the Park on Wednesday 2 October at 7.30pm.
How old were you when you started learning the violin?
My mother and I went to a very fine teacher when I was 4 years old but he turned us back saying that I was too young! So I started one year later, at 5.
When and where did you do your first professional concert?
Although I played many times on TV between the age of 5 and 10, I would say that my first professional concerts were at age 9, when I toured all-over Japan for 12 concerts. Not long after that tour, Maestro Charles Dutoit offered me a series of 5 concerts as guest soloist of the Montreal Symphony.
What are your favourite pieces to play?
I’ve played the Sarasate Gypsy Airs more than 500 times! This piece is probably why I got so close to Spain and its culture in the first place, and why I left as soon as I could to study and live in Spain, at age 17.
If you weren’t a classical musician what would you be?
I might have been a good politician…! But my top job after classical musician would be in the field of astronomy. I have so much respect for the people that seek answers far and beyond the known space.
How do you relax?
I love the nature. So relaxing for me must involve an activity near a forest or a very “green” space! I’m not particularly sport orientated, but I must say that a good workout outdoors is good for my soul.
What is your favourite meal?
I have many! I don’t really have a favourite one in particular. What I like is diversity and I like to try new stuff. When I travel, I always eat the local recipes and drink the local wine.
What are you reading at the moment?
At this very moment I’m reading a book about the 40s in Europe. It’s heavy and sad, but it’s so important for me to know exactly what happened and why during this horrible period of our modern history.
Have you ever taught anyone else how to play?
I presently hold a professor position at the Gatineau-Ottawa Conservatory of Canada where I teach half a dozen young talented violinists. Teaching is important for me, and I try to always keep in touch with my students, even when I’m away. Skype is a good way to see them when I’m far.
Have you ever performed in a tent? (ie like The Theatre in the Park at Chichester)
In my native country, Canada, there are lots of festivals and outdoor concerts during the summer. I remember playing a concert as guest soloist of the Montreal Symphony under a tent-like stage for a public of 100 000 people!
Why do you think the Bruch violin concerto is so popular?
I think it speaks to the audience in a very direct and romantic way. Indeed, the Bruch concerto is so beautiful and conveys very human feelings of love and power and I think that, unconsciously, we are deeply touched by this way of writing. Besides, the composer wrote so well for the violin, it is possible for the performer to use a very lush and deep sound throughout the piece, and show a very honest virtuosity in the last movement.
Alexandre da Costa plays in the BBC Concert Orchestra's Essential Classics on Wednesday 2 October at 7.30pm in the Theatre in the Park.