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The accordion is making it into the classical world

Pedro Palacín entrevista LumaSuite

Pedro Palacín entrevista LumaSuite

Pedro Palacín Iriondo is an orchestra director and accordionist. He started teaching at the San Sebastian Conservatory 30 years ago and is now a professor at the music school of this city.

His objective is to promote the use of the accordion within the classical orchestras, and for that he is preparing a very special concert in Eibar, do you want to know more?

Photos: Félix Morquecho.

At age 7, it occurs to you to sign up for accordion classes, how did you come up with it?
My father liked music, and he had a friend who was an accordion teacher. He took me to his house and asked me: "Would you like to learn to play the accordion?". I told him yes. So I started with Felix Aranzábal, "The blind from Angiozar".
I learned music theory and up to 4th of the 6 courses of the accordion studies in that time. Then, I went to the Mikel Bikondoa Academy in Donostia, finished my degree and continued a few more years.
How does it feel to win national accordion awards?
The truth is that when I went to accordion competitions as a student, I keep a sweet memory of the National Prize, because at that time there were things that were not entirely clear to me: I wanted to dedicate myself to music, but I did not know exactly in which of its facets. The fact of obtaining the first prize, was a reaffirmation for me, and enable me to continue working on everything that fascinated me but I had not had occasion to perform: deepen the instrument, study Composition and Orchestra Conducting.
It coincided with the achievement by opposition of Accordion Professor in the Conservatory of Donostia. After finishing my studies at the Conservatory of Donostia, I obtained a scholarship from the Diputación de Gipuzkoa and did a Master of Orchestra Direction in Rome.
Oh, Rome... Regarding your stage as a student in Italy, what would you highlight?
All. Studying in Rome was one of my dreams. It is a beautiful city full of culture in every corner, I also studied with great masters: Bruno Aprea, Massimo Pradella, Nicola Samale. I have pleasant memories and I keep in touch with them. There I learned a much more global vision of music. I had the great fortune that I studied with great opera specialists, and opera is the best a conductor can aspire to.
In addition to these facts, I made a lot of musician friends, exceptional and welcoming people. Every time I go back to Rome it makes me feel at home.
Speaking about studies... how many students do you have?
I love teaching, it is a task that I consider fascinating. It contributes not only to the teaching of music, which are many and many things, but also to help to become better people, to improve motor skills, expression, to cultivate sensitivity, communication, the relationship and coordination with other people... so many things... These fatcs turn this vocational profession into something very very beautiful.
At present time I have students of all ages, from 8 years old (minimum age to start at school), up to 75 years old. All of them are eager to learn, but I would particularly highlight the enthusiasm of the older ones, since in their childhood they could not learn accordion, and now they really enjoy the opportunity they have.
In addition, I teach classes of access to regulated education (Conservatory), and also access to Musikene (higher education). In this way I prepare the students in the theoretical subjects: Harmony, Forms, History, etc.
I am also part of the Pedagogy Department of the Donostia Municipal School, offering two weekly auditions for children. We intend in this way to bring music to the little ones.
Your favourite song?
The truth is that for me it is very difficult to select only one song. There is so much and such beautiful musical literature and beautiful songs... but I would highlight a popular one: "Xalbador heriotza", and a musical composition: the end of "St Matthew Passion" of J S Bach.
"There (in Rome) I learned a much more global vision of music. I had the great fortune that I studied with great opera specialists, and opera is the best a conductor can aspire to."
The last book you've read
I really like Camilleri's novels, in which the protagonist is Commissioner Montalbano. I have read a large part of them, the last "The Age of Doubt". I am also very keen to read a study published on the works of Bach by Jon Eliot Gardiner, "In the Garden of Heaven". As you can see, nothing to do with one another.
What is your opinion on LumaSuite?
The truth is that I did not know it until you visited me, but I think it is very good what you do.
Tell us about the projects you have in hand.
I am the founder and director of the "Andrés de Egiguren" Orchestra of Eibar. As more outstanding performances, I would mention the concert commemorating the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Eibar and Gernika, offered in both cities, as well as the performances of the opera "The altarpiece of Master Pedro" and "El amor brujo", by Manuel de Falla, as a culmination to the exhibition "Zuloaga - Falla, history of a friendship", offered in Centro - Centro, Palacio Cibeles in Madrid.
As a more immediate event, next December 15, we will offer a concert in Eibar, where the accordionist Ander Tellería will take part, as well as the Mezzo Soprano Cristina del Barrio, both young great musicians. In the program, we will play compositions of Mozart, Piazzola, Tschaikovsky, with the participation of a ballet and also a choir formed by two choirs. In it, we will integrate the accordion into the orchestra.
Currently, I am working on the recovery of compositions of Aita Madina, which have been stored in a drawer and therefore have not been interpreted until now. I am going to review them and finish their orchestration, to make a world premiere and edit a disc.
In all of hem, I want the accordion to take part.

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