10 Questions for Beatriz Boizan

Considered “One of the brightest new lights in the classical world” (The Vancouver Sun), pianist Beatriz Boizán is admired for her vibrant personality, charismatic stage presence, unique musicianship and innate talent to deliver breathtakingly authentic innovative performances of Spanish and Latin American music, for which she has been encouraged by her teacher and mentor, Mme. Alicia de Larrocha.  Her debut CD, “Pasión”, Galano Records GLO-2813, features Boizán playing 17 solo piano pieces written by some of her favorite Spanish and Latin American composers – Lecuona, Soler, Cervantes, Albéniz and Ginastera.

Her stunning, scintillating, passionate, moving interpretations, delivered with deep maturity, understanding and respect are certain to make a tremendous, lasting impact on Classical and Latin music fans worldwide. You can find out more about her at beatrizboizan.com

In anticipation of Beatriz’s recital at Toronto’s Gallery 345 on October 18 at 8:00 pm, I ask her ten questions: five about herself and five about her concert.

1-Are you more like your father or your mother?

I believe I posses qualities from both. The strength of character (that ability to stand up for myself and fight for what I believe in) I inherited from my mother. She passed away at a fairly young age. She was forty-eighty and I was thirteen. The perseverance, the intense work ethic, the stern discipline and the ability to completely focus and dedicate myself to a profession I learned from my father. My special love for Martin Scorsese films I inherited from both. My parents were huge fans of his flicks since I was little. I remember hearing them praise “Taxi Driver” and “Raging bull” when I was growing up.

Pianist Beatriz Boizan

2- What is the best thing & worst thing about being a pianist?

The best thing about being a pianist is the ability to create a rainbow of colours and an orchestral sound that ranges from percussive vibrations to the most beautiful singing tone which makes it one of the most multi dimensional instruments around. This brings me to the worst thing about being a pianist. Because of all the above, the art of playing the piano requires countless hours to master it and therefore my job is accompanied by a pretty lonely and sedentary life. I don’t mind being alone completely lost in my own world for the most part but sitting in a chair for large number of hours since I was a child is not very much fun.

3- Who do you like to listen to or watch?

Sprinting, Tennis, Soccer and Football are my favourite sports to watch. I’m a huge fan of MUSIC of all kinds (Opera, country music, Jazz, Broadway, Pop) and I have a special love for singers which I inherited from my aunt (my mother‘s sister) who is an opera singer. I accompanied her in public before I played my first solo piano recital. In a way, my relationship with singers started long before I thought of becoming a soloist. I admire Renee Fleming‘s work very much, especially her Strauss and her Rachmaninoff.  I cried when I first heard her sing live at the Chan Centre in Vancouver back in 2002. Keith Urban‘s “Til summer comes around“ is one of the most beautiful tunes ever written. Diana Krall is a great inspiration in my life because I consider her a rare talent as this girl from Nanaimo who plays/sings bossa nova quite beautifully. I adore Barbra Streisand. I think she gives an unusual substance to Broadway music.

I can’t live without MOVIES. Leonardo diCaprio is my favourite actor. He broke my heart when he played “Arnie” in “What‘s Eating Gilbert Grape” and later, I wanted to marry him when he played “Jack Dawson” in “Titanic”! Among other movies I admire are: “The King‘s speech”, “The Blind side”, “Gran Torino”, “Shine”, “Something‘s gotta give”, “The proposal”, “The bridges of Madison County”, “Blood Diamond“, “Edward Scissorhands”, “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory”, “The Great Gatsby”.  “Mission Impossible 4” and “Casino Royale” were so thrilling I sweat watching them!

I love following politics, especially US politics. I love strong personalities like Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Ann Coulter, as well as comedians like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher. I don’t necessarily agree with everything they say but I believe in democracy and diversity of thought. “Sex & The City” and “The Big Bang Theory” are my two favourite sitcoms.

4- What ability or skill do you wish you had, that you don’t have?

World class athletic abilities! Roger Federer is my favourite athlete. My hubby took me to watch him play live @ the Toronto’s Rexall centre when I turned 30 back in 2006: the best birthday present I’ve ever received. I’m also a huge fan of Serena Williams, Usain Bolt, Shelly-Anne Fraser Price, Cristiano Ronaldo. I envy their movement and athletic performance.

5- When you’re just relaxing and not working what is your favourite thing to do?

Fitness is my favourite hobby. I love to run and lift weights. I also love learning about Fashion which is why I find the collaboration with designer Rosemarie Umetsu so delightful and fun. Spending time with my husband is a very special part of my life. We love going out on dates: dinner and a movie. We go for romantic dinners often and love fine dining restaurants. High quality food is heaven!


Five more about the upcoming concert at Gallery 345

1-Please talk about the challenges in preparing your concert program.

I’m presenting a program that includes Haydn’s last keyboard sonata, Liszt’s Sonetto #104 and his etude “La Campanella” and also works from the Spanish and Latin American music repertoire. One of the challenges of preparing this program is mastering the stylistic differences between the composers: the period in which each lived, their distinctive personality traits, as for example Haydn’s brilliant sense of humor, Cervantes’ rare Cuban nostalgia, Liszt’s Romantic nature, and the flamenco inspired flavours of Lecuona’s Malagueña, to mention a few.

I purposely chose a program that would show a wide range of emotions and contrasts. I love the adventure of travelling from one country to another through sound. I find performing each composition with the appropriate style my biggest challenge as a Classical musician.

2-What do you love about this kind of music  (and how do you feel, being able to play such wonderful music)?

Yes, I agree. I feel privileged to have a gift for the Spanish and Latin American music, which is my heritage because it makes the performing experience even more personal and authentic. When I perform Liszt’s “La Campanella”, I’ve practiced countless hours to acquire the finger strength and the speed required to deliver an elegant performance with poise and ease. However, when I play any of the Spanish and Latin American pieces, I feel a complete transformation that goes beyond note accuracy, speed and any other aspect of technique that could be taught and/or learned. It is almost as if reasoning and intellect go out the window and then all I’m left with are my guts, my heart, and those deep childhood memories.  In a way the experience becomes very visceral and that I believe is the strength and appeal of my recitals.

3) Do you have a favourite moment in your program?

While I love every composition chosen for this programme, performing the “Danzas Cubanas” by Ignacio Cervantes (1847-1905) is my favourite moment as I have the warmest memories from growing up in Baracoa (Cuba) with my late grand-mother and first piano teacher Esclarecida Guilarte (1910-2007), who introduced me to his music. I also consider Cervantes my desert island composer. I love the simplicity and symmetry of his writing: so transparent, melancholic, nostalgic and candid. Very often, we think of Cuban music as loud and vibrant and then we have Ignacio Cervantes who lived and studied in 19th century Paris. He brought a unique dimension to our music and re-defined what being a Cuban is about. Very inspiring!  

4) How do you relate to this kind of piano repertoire as a modern Canadian woman of Cuban origin…?  

Moving to Canada has been the most liberating experience for me. Oddly enough, when I was back in Cuba I was in no mood to play Cuban music. It is possible that being overexposed to it didn’t help. It wasn’t until I moved to Canada that I gained a true appreciation for my culture. For some years, I completely forgot about it and it wasn’t until recently when I recorded my cd PASIÓN that I revisited some of these compositions and finally embraced the idea of making a lifelong commitment to it. Being a modern Canadian woman has given me the strength, the belief and the confidence to bring this repertoire to life.

Cecilia Bartoli

5) Is there anyone out there who you particularly admire, and who has influenced you?

I specifically admire Cecilia Bartoli because of her unique love for Baroque music, her determination to bring it to concert audiences and to create awareness towards obscure compositions from this period. I have a similar desire with the Spanish and Latin American repertoire as my niche and passion.


Beatriz Boizan will be at Gallery 345 (345 Sorauren Avenue, Toronto, ON M6R 2G5)
October 18 at 8pm.  Tickets are $20/$15/$10, available online at beatrizboizan.com, at the door or by phone at 416.822.9781 www.gallery345.com]


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2 Responses to 10 Questions for Beatriz Boizan

  1. Pingback: Feral piano: Beatriz Boizán | barczablog

  2. Pingback: (Q + A) x 300: questions and conversations | barczablog

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