Alexandre Da Costa - International Violin Virtuoso
From Protege to International Violin Virtuoso
An interview by Rosemary Phillips,
Alexandre Da Costa, world-travelling violin virtuoso, Juno-Award winner and guest artist with the Vancouver Island Symphony for their premiere concert of the 2013-2014 season, had a few minutes to spare while he was en route to Ottawa from his hometown of Montreal to teach at the Gatineau Music Conservatory
Alexandre Da Costa
“Teaching is important for any performer,” said Da Costa as he spoke about his life as a prodigy and international star. “Half my time is spent on the road. When I perform I have to move from city to city, like a gypsy going from one country to the other with my suitcase and music. Teaching is a way to be in one place, and to help students who are serious about their music.”
The prodigy - For Da Costa music is serious. At the age of five he began his own musical journey and instruction and by nine he was performing with professional orchestras as a child prodigy. “It was in my genes and environment,” explained Da Costa. “Both my parents are artists. As a kid I just thought it was normal. I picked up the violin in the morning, practiced for a couple of hours, went to school, then practiced piano, and later did my school homework. I didn’t question it. I knew early on that music was not something I could do lightly – I had to be serious.”
The virtuoso - At just 18, Da Costa moved to Spain to study and for the next 14 years Europe was home. “Half of my career is in Europe, but I love to be back home in Canada, with my family and friends.” Now, with over one-thousand performances to his credit as a solo artist for orchestras around the world, Da Costa, who is known musically for his sensuality, irreproachable technique, sensitivity and temperament, understands the life of the virtuoso. “Being a soloist is a very difficult job, like an athlete, where you are always competing with the best to stay on top of the game. I chose this path and I am very happy for it and my achievements.”
The human being – While travelling around the world Da Costa is able to indulge in one of his other passions, food. “I’m a very foodie person; I love to try anything and everything, and stick to the specialties of the country I am visiting. Last month I went from Malaga in Spain, went nuts with the Spanish cuisine, then to London and the BBC Orchestra and fantastic Indian food. In France there’s the best wine and cheese.”
“Lalo - Symphonie Espagnole - 1st movement”
Alexandre Da Costa, violin; Carlos Kalmar, conductor
Orquesta Sinfónica de RadioTelevision Espanola
© Warner Classics
The Canadian - When asked about interests other than music Da Costa replied, “If you had asked me before I would have said drinking good wine with friends, but these past few years I realize I need to be outdoors quite regularly. I always thought of myself as an urban guy, living in cities like Madrid and Vienna, but now in seeing my life as a Canadian I like to go and hike in the forest, to be in areas where nature is untouched, to disconnect from the fast life of the city.”
This has led Da Costa to his additional role as artistic director of the Laurentians Classical Festival, where during the summer months, alongside his general manager (and fiancé) Martine Cardinal, he hosts international artists to perform throughout nine municipalities in the natural environs of forest and lakes.
The concerto – Like Da Costa, composer Jean Sibelius had similar sentiments. He wrote: “Nature is coming to life: that life which I so love, now and always, whose essence shall pervade everything which I compose.” So it really is no coincidence that on his visit to beautiful Vancouver Island, Da Costa perform the stunningly gorgeous and yet technically challenging Violin Concerto in D minor by Sibelius.
Da Costa said, “This concerto is such an important piece in the violin repertoire. It has to be played by somebody who has a relationship with the north because at the beginning it is like seeing a landscape full of snow and hearing the wind blowing in cold.” Then he added, humorously, “Being a Canadian and living in a place like Montreal, I feel I am the right person to play this piece.”
The future – While Da Costa’s career has already been hugely successful he still has dreams. “They evolve constantly,” he said. “My dream is to work with conductors I can have a proper human relationship with, who I can talk with, and after a concert sit down with and have a great meal.”
The conductor – And when it comes to conductors Da Costa added, “Pierre Simard (of the VI Symphony) is a very good friend. We know each other from student days. We don’t have to discuss our views; they are so much alike, about where we want to go with the music, about the quality, and the high level.”
For information on his latest exciting news, recordings and performances visit Alexandre's website.
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