Baroque guitarist

Iván received a grant to continue his studies in baroque guitar at the music university of Trossingen. 

What is your artistic background ?
I come from Bogotá, a really special place where all the cultures from the whole country interact in a big metropolis. I started with music at the age of eight, when I began my musical studies at the Conservatory of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. For various reasons, I started with the piano because there was no formal classical guitar programme at that time. My relationship with the guitar was mainly playing songs with different musicians, we focused on playing Colombian folk music. After some time, I realized that the guitar was the instrument that I wanted to play and so I treated my piano studies as a way of supplementing my musical knowledge. I taught myself classical guitar, making use of the knowledge that I had acquired from both the Colombian music and piano studies at the conservatory. I ended up studying the guitar undergraduate programme with Iréne Gomez and Pedro Ángel Ortega at the Universidad Nacional. During that time, I learnt to play all the Colombian plucked instruments, which allowed me to develop new skills to improve my guitar interpretation. In 2014, I started my masters studies in Germany with Andreas Grün at the Musikhochschule Trossingen. Simultaneously, I began to study early music with Professor Rolf Lislevand (one of the most important specialists in the field of all time), focusing on baroque guitar. In my career, I have had the opportunity to play with the most important Colombian music ensembles; and because of this, I was able to record the album Inéditoin 2014, which is considered an important milestone in the history of Colombian music. As a soloist, I also recorded another album, after I won the first prize and audience prize of the national guitar competition “El Nogal”. In 2016, I had the chance to record another album on the baroque guitar, sponsored by the Musikhochschule Trossingen.  

How do you see your profession today ?
I am truly convinced that the lack of arts education has been a real problem in our society. I mean that when a human being is close to the influence of artistic expression, he or she will develop a new way of seeing life; in fact, one develops a completely different way of living. Things that were previously overlooked or seen as insignificant can become discernible or even transcendental. For instance, just taking the time to appreciate the landscape that surrounds one could turn out to be a unique moment for every single person. Then, music forms part of this new way of understanding our society. In fact, we can demonstrate, disseminate and learn about our cultures through music, which takes us to a different level of understanding. Music has taught me that every single person around me is unique and extremely valuable. If one understands that, it will automatically create an atmosphere of respect and friendship. After that, the development of a new community, based on honesty, solidarity and respect for others, can be realised. As a player of early music, I try to convey the message of thinking about all the great things that humankind has developed throughout history. Sometimes, we possess a huge amount of technological developments, information or skills, but we cannot manage to solve the simple problems of daily life. Early music tries to show in a humble way how valuable our relationships with others are, or how important it is to feel something honest inside oneself, leaving aside egos (the desire to impress an audience or a jury, etc...) and finally to communicate with yourself or with another person. Therefore, you learn that every single rehearsal, class, “gig”, concert or performance is a unique opportunity to create something unrepeatable and special.

How do you see yourself in five years ? In 10 years ?
I really want to realise my dream of a “full performance” on stage as a short-term goal. This means combining different forms of artistic expression during one concert. My idea is to perform early music (especially the popular music of the sixteenth century of Spain, France and Italy), mixed with Colombian and other South American folk music. At the same time, dancing and singing need to be part of the performance, taking all the ingredients from this almost unknown music. On the other hand, my work has been focusing on two major areas. First, I want to be an artist who helps and develops a new type of musician in my country (i.e. musicians who really want to convey an honest message as artists and to try to create opportunities in their communities). The first step to take is giving opportunities to students who cannot afford their studies. If I can be the bridge between these two parts, my work is not only meaningful “on stage”, but is also making a difference in the outside world. Finally, the spreading of Colombian music around the world is my lifetime goal. I come from a country whose music is full of colours, expression and richness, due to the mixture of cultures during its history. As a Colombian artist, my duty is to play this music with the highest commitment and quality possible. Wherever I give a concert, the audience has to take a small sample of my culture home with them. I will make sure that people around the world will know my country for its beautiful culture and wonder.


This interview was conducted in 2017
Photo credit: Céline Anaya Gautier