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Bárbara Santos is a young cello player that has made Algarve her stage and safe haven. Born in São Romão do Coronado, a part of Porto district, she roamed to Algarve when she concluded her Cello Bachelor at Escola Superior de música de Lisboa. Her path is mostly measured as a classical repertoire instrumentalist but can be seen playing with pop musicians very easily, as also folk and alternative music. Let's talk for the next 15 minutes.
The Cello is your inseparable friend, do you remember your first contact with this instrument? Tell us about your formation.
I remember some of it. At the time i went to try out for Escola Profissional e Artística do Vale do Ave - ARTAVE, i was 11 years old. I tried many instruments, but what i really liked was the Cello. I did my initial musical path from 12 to 17 years old at ARTAVE and then entered Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa for Degree in Execution - Cello and, later on at Master in Music Teaching - Cello.
After my Bachelor i wanted to start working in my area and heard of a job opportunity to teach in Lagos, Algarve where i started working in 2014. Those 2 years of my life from 2014-2016 where full of travels simultaneously with the lectures in Lagos, and had the master in Lisbon where i went every week . In 2015 through my friend and colleague Luis Caracinha i was recommended as a Cello player to do some recording, and that's where the Algarve Musical part of my life really started.
I was already part of a musical project in Lisbon called Café d'alma and, in a swift moment i saw myself in a new project called Esfinge. In 2017, i felt the need to go back to my roots In the north of the country and stayed there for a year and a half, approximately. I had the chance to lecture at Escola de Música Óscar da Silva e na Escola das Artes, both in matosinhos for 1 year. For the next year i decided to dedicate more time to the Cello and do many masterclasses with globally recognized names in a program called Cellos of Santa Cristina. In 2018, i still felt the need for something and after cooperating a few times with Orquestra Clássica do Sul and doing some recordings with my great friend Luis caracinha , the recent existence of the project Riding a meteor, i felt that Faro district was calling me.
So i roamed South again with no goals in sight just based on a feeling. On arrival i had the chance to teach at Conservatoire Regional Maria Campina and at Conservatoire of Olhão and to proceed with recordings and concerts. I also had the privilege to integrate a season at Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa do Teatro Nacional de São Carlos.
The next year (2019), i was placed at Conservatório de Música de Loulé - Francisco Rosado e continued teaching at Conservatório de Olhão. That same year, there came another opportunity to integrate 2 more musical projects: Teresa Aleixo and Trio Helena Madeira, according to my math it's already five! Actually , beside being a musician i keep on teaching. But the presence of concerts in my life is indispensable!
This first answer left us a very broad framework of your path. Clearing up some of the moments you talk about, you refer that after your bachelor you came to Algarve while finishing your master. How was the process of adapting to a new region and a less cosmopolitan dynamic in comparison to Porto or Lisbon?
I can adapt easily to change, but i confess that a miss a lot of things that unfortunately, the south, does not have as much like: the public transport.
You referred to Café d'alma project with whom you recorded your first album and also a collaboration with Esfinge Project. How was it leaving classical repertoire and adapting to the dynamics of these projects?
I don't have many recollections of the first impact of these musical changes, if you can call them that. But i know i was clinging to the score, very square and these projects also helped me in my maturity and, consequently in my musicality in any style.
It was 2015 and since then you have accompanied many other artists beside your activity as an instrumentalist in regional and national orquestras. How has it been to hang out with new artists especially in Algarve?
It has been very revealing about the means and artistic-musical styles.I have met loads of people that allow me to meet even more people, that get me many contacts in the city and district.
At the end of 2017 you integrated the band Riding a meteor where you exposed not only your technical abilities as your creative spirit composing and creating arrangements with Luis Caracinha. Beside that, accompanying an alternative band must have its challenges. Tell us about it.
It's true. Luis Caracinha was one of the reasons that made me want to come and try to live in the Algarve again. He has an incredible creative capacity and decided to recruit me! I was and has been a challenging and motivating experience, although we don't always see eye to eye. But i have to thank him for the help and for the initiative to discover “another world”. Sometimes, i find composing abilities that i didn't know i had.
How is it for you to reconcile the teaching activities with instrument studies, rehearsals and concerts?
When you're a teacher with a heavy workload, it's very complicated to reconcile all those different activities with instrument studies. I admit that i don't have the time to study as much as i should but, i'll do a bit of everything, teaching, rehersals, concerts, studies…
Last year you worked with Orquestra do São Carlos for a season, and we know that to play in an orchestra of this institutional dimension is always an important landmark on the path of an instrumentalist. Tell us about the experience.
That experience was an important and very rewarding for me as a person and a musician. It implied continuing to teach in Algarve and being at the orchestra every week, a complex logistic but possible. It boosted my approach and contents when it concerns teaching, because we learn everyday, mostly if we are surrounded by other musicians. It's incredible how different the musical environments and styles are, and, in a way, how being in other environments made me not be so obsessed about perfection. Because classical music can have that ( which is not always bad).
What concert meant more to you?
This is the type of question that leaves me speechless. I can't recall any concert as being THAT concert. I give all my commitment and concentration to all of them, but i can say that the adrenaline of a concert with an orchestra, a solo concert or a concert with Riding a Meteor for example is completely different and has no comparison.
If you have to invite all the readers to go and experience the projects you participate in what do you advise?
All of them of course! Riding a Meteor, Café D’Alma, Esfinge, Teresa Aleixo e Trio Helena Madeira.
Thank you Bárbara!
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