J P Jofre, composer and bandoneon player

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

I always felt the need to be connected with music. Like air, like water, like something basic, yet special as a way of expressing my feelings. The first time I saw a symphony, I realized I wanted to be immersed in that world. Then when I heard Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky they were kind of my inspiration for becoming a composer, but Piazzolla inspired me to be both: bandoneon performer and composer.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Cellist Nestor Longo, who encouraged me to leave college and explore my own voice. Fernando Otero, who guided me to discover my potential. My producer and friend Gustavo Szuansky who pushed me and taught me many things, Paquito D’ Rivera who took me from performing in bars and put me on the big stages. Michael Guttman for commisioning the first Double Concerto for Violin and Bandoneon. And the list goes for many hours, I believe every person in this world has something to give you, and you can learn and feed your brain and heart from any person. It only depends on us, on the viewpoint – “what can I learn from this experience”?

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Making my own music with love and being able the share it. When I compose music, I am bringing something new, honest and inspiring. It doesn’t matter if it is the best hall or the best orchestra, music is for people and we, just as medical doctors or any other profession, are here to help. When you are a doctor, you must treat your patients equally and you have the heal. We, the musicians are the same.

What is your most memorable concert/live music experience?

It won’t be fair to mention one, there are so many incredible experiences. Maybe with my Quintet at Usina del Arte and having my teacher Julio Pane in the audience, that was very special. Another super remarkable moment was doing a series of concerts in NYC with my Quintet, with special guest Kathryn Stott on the piano. That felt like a dream.

How would you describe your compositional/musical style?

That’s something I’d like the audience to tell you! I create new music, my passions are classical music, tango, and I was a heavy-metal drummer, so I guess I blend all these sounds.

As a composer, how do you work?

Music is the universal language. Through music, you can say so many things and touch so many souls. Once you realize how music enriches your soul and once you decide what message you want to convey, you can start putting that into practice. We have to analyze, transcribe, and listen to thousands and thousands of recordings, learn the vocabulary, the styles, and little by little developing our own voice. I’m 35 years old and I am still discovering new things. I hope it never stops because there is nothing more beautiful than finding your own voice. Generally, I don’t do any special creative preparation. Musical ideas come into my mind on their own – most of the time when I am walking on my way to do something, such as a meeting, rehearsal, shopping, etc. It is my emotions, experiences, and the people around me that serve as the creative inspiration. When I am home, and I know I have to compose some music, I close my eyes and simply try to listen to my heart.

Which works are you most proud of?

One of my favourite pieces is “Tango Movement”. This music is very interesting because I wrote the main themes while I was still learning the bandoneon.

I remember sitting on my couch in my hometown of San Juan (Argentina). I was going through a lot of family issues, and at the same time, my country was suffering one of the worst economic crises in its history. It was 2001. We had five presidents in one week. There was a lot of social upheaval, national strikes etc, and I wanted to express with my music the tumult of feelings I was experiencing. That is when I wrote the main themes for the Allegro and the Adagio sections. But since I was still learning the bandoneon, I wrote only the melodies, some harmonies and then I put it aside for four to five years until I felt confident enough with my bandoneon skills. The piece can be heard on my album Manifiesto — that is the version I like most.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

For me, to be able to create, to record, to share, and to inspire.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

Making music surrounded by my daughter and wife and probably in an Island called Peng Hu in Taiwan where I am planning to take one year off just to  compose.

 

The Double Concerto for Violin and Bandoneón is available on the Progressive Sounds Label featuring JP Jofre, violinist Michael Guttman and the acclaimed Grammy-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

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