Interview: Isabel Esain
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"Living in London is like a dream, coming to Classic FM is even better." Over a hot chocolate at a cosy cafe in South Kensington, Isabel Esain recalls how she had the opportunity to play her instrument, the viola da gamba, on Classic FM. Isabel, 19, from Zaragoza, Spain, began her journey playing the viola back when she was just seven years old. Isabel, explains she took up the viola "because it’s the most important instrument from the Baroque period." "It was the most important instrument in France during the 1650s, which was when France was the most important country in the world. So, the reason I play this instrument is there’s so much repertoire". Beginning in Rome around 1600, the Baroque period followed the Renaissance and the music style preceded the classical era. Isabel, however, prefers baroque music to classical: "When you go to classical music, you have more restrictions, so composers tell musicians how they want instruments to be played. But for baroque music, you have to interpret it yourself. So you have to read so many books, you have to read so much about the background and the composers and why they play this way and different techniques, if you play French music you have to play one way, if you’re playing German music you have to play in a different way." "It’s much more time consuming but very rewarding when you play it." She puts down her mug and then with her hands explains the different playing styles. She plays the German way, holding the bow from below, whilst the French play holding the bow from above. She later informs me how in the past, composers had to choose between quality and intensity and how in classical music, it is a case of a musician being in front of an audience, who simply listens. She describes this as "the main difference" between classic and her preferred baroque genre. Whilst, Isabel speaks highly of the long list of baroque musicians, she's insistence that she wants to find her own unique style. I ask her who her inspiration is and she ponders for a moment before telling me, "I can’t choose one, I really can’t choose one", before explaining, "I don’t want to be like someone, I don’t want to play like someone." It was this dedication to her art form that lead to her Classic FM appearance: "So I have quite an active Facebook account." On this account, she shared a lot of her music: "From my tours and all my music gigs and all the things I do, and I’ve always followed Classic FM, Classic is always one of my references in the music world, because they don’t support just classical music, they also support baroque music." Classic FM contacted Isabel as a result of these posts on her website: "They were really interested, so I sent them a video and they published it in their website, and it was a very successful post, so they invited me to the studio, and then I recorded some videos there. "It was such an amazing experience, everyone in the studio was really nice, I had this tour through the studio, and with the live session, we did it, I was really happy because there was so many people interested in the instrument.
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