Brazilian pianist Alvaro Siviero will perform the Piano Concerto in d minor by JS Bach in the opening concert of the CPO’s Autumn Symphony season. He speaks to PETA STEWART about the work:

Alvaro Siviero with the CPO

When both soloist and conductor agree that Bach is the high point of classical music, the point where it all began, concert audiences at the opening concert of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra’s Autumn Symphony season on April 4 2019 are in for a treat!

For Brazilian pianist Alvaro Siviero, who will perform the Piano Concerto in d minor by JS Bach, “Bach is the beginning of everything. He is the Father of Music since he developed counterpoint and harmony. All the other composers, with huge respect, based themselves on that.”  Bernhard Gueller, the CPO’s principal guest conductor who will be on the podium for all four concerts in the season, says that Bach is the closest one gets to God.  “When listening to Bach, for example, I have this overwhelming certainty that everything is alright.”

Another point on which both musicians agree is that music is the most powerful of all the arts. As Gueller wrote in the orchestra’s current edition of Concerto magazine: “Art is the one thing that makes us human. Of all the arts, music is the most mysterious, most moving, most comprehensive, most powerful of all.”  Alvaro Siviero said that “music is the one art that speaks directly to the heart. And it is in the heart that all decisions are taken. That’s why, I think, Dostoyevsky so well said that the world will be redeemed by music. And that’s what I hope to happen in our concert: a night of redemption!”

In love with the piano

Siviero is in South Africa because of a friendship with Dutch-South African conductor Conrad van Alphen, with whose Sinfonia Rotterdam he has played several times.

“Conrad has said wonderful things about the CPO and since I have special admiration for him I am really excited and looking forward to be with this marvellous orchestra.”

Sivero has been “in love with the piano since childhood” and he doesn’t believe we choose with whom or what we are going to fall in love.

He explains: “Comes this day where the heart starts beating faster, our hands sweat and the whole world seems to be upside down when in presence of our great love.  Music chose me.  I started my piano studies when I was four with incredible passion, graduating in the Conservatory when I was 14.

“There is a huge difference between passion and love. Passion is like a roller-coaster, unsteady and full of ups and downs, while love brings stability, commitment and dedication. That’s why I went to the university to study something that apparently has nothing to do with music. I chose physics to double check whether my vocation was really music or not.  And it is!”

After some 10 years of making a successful career in physics, Siviero quit and returned to music.

“I don’t regret the time I was involved with physics.  Music is mathematical – think of the equations that come into play with acoustics!”

Alvaro Siviero with the CPO

Touching people’s hearts

Alvaro Siviero, who also has a degree in multicultural education, is not only an integral part of the Brazilian music scenery as soloist and chamber musician, he is also a music and artistic director, co-ordinating several seasons of international concerts, and has been awarded Brazil’s foremost Comenda da Ordem do Mérito Cultural Carlos Gomes (Commander degree). He has performed internationallyfrom  Europe to America, as well as widely in South America. In 2007, Siviero performed an exclusive recital for Pope Benedict XVI on his tour of Brazil, he was the pianist chosen to open the Cartoixa de Valldemossa where Chopin lived),  and was the first  pianist ever to perform a formal concert in Corcovado, in Rio, in from the of the statue of Christ. He also performed for the very poor people on the outskirts of his home town of São Paulo and “I have to confess that this last one was one of the best, touching experiences I’ve ever had,” he admits.

Siviero regards his most important achievements as touching peoples’ hearts.

“If that happens, regardless of where I am performing, I see a reason to do what I do. Success, power and fame are so temporary and relative. What is it to be famous?  We are always looking for more. If happiness, which is the reason to live, is based on that we will never be happy. Music is communication. It is so great to bring joy and hope through music to a society in which every day seems to be emptier and further away from the real human values.”

Also on the programme at the concert are the overture, Prometheus, by Beethoven and the Symphony No. 1 by Brahms. Siviero’s own recording of the Bach concerto will be on sale on the night of the concert.

What: Alvaro Siviero interview

Concert: CPO with Alvaro Siviero piano, Bernhard Gueller conductor

Where and when:  Cape Town City Hall on 4 April 2019

Book: Artscape Dial-A-Seat 021 421 7695 and Computicket