Archive for June, 2013

June 26, 2013

Amsterdam Roots Festival

The 16th  edition of Amsterdam Roots Festival returns to Amsterdam from 4 to 7 July 2013. Taking place in five locations around Amsterdam, the festival features four days of music from all cultures and corners of the world. Expect to experience the latest development in world sounds, inspiring headliners, up-and-coming international talents at the city’s venues. Amsterdam Roots concludes festively with the annual outdoor festival Roots Open Air in the Oosterpark.

Roots Indoor

Well-known city venues such as Bimhuis and Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ traditionally host the Roots Indoor programming. This year’s programming gives platform to inspiring acts. For example, Bombino (Niger) a Sahel blues rocker who has recently collaborated with The Black Keys, will headline in the Melkweg on Thursday July 4th. At the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Brazilian stars Paulinho Leite & Andre Rio explore and celebrate Carnaval & Fórro from Pernambuco. Vibrant big band Spok Frevo turns out elaborated arrangement from Frevo, Brasil.

Roots Open Air

The festival traditionally culminates in the fabulous Roots Open Air in Oosterpark on Sunday July 7th. From noon until 22.00, visitors can enjoy a day filled with music across multiple stages spread throughout the leafy park, with both international and local bands, the latest talent from Amsterdam, DJs, dance workshops, adventurous kids’ programming and extensive market with exotic foods and accessories and a lot more. Foodies surely won’t be disappointed by the variety of global goodies to be sampled.

This year singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré (Mali) headlines Roots Open Air. Having just released her latest album Beautiful Africa and performed in the musical theatre production Desdemona at Holland Festival, it’s the perfect time to catch this mesmeric songstress.

Other highlights include guitarist Jupiter Bokondji (Congo), singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi (Tunisia) – who became known for her protest songs during the Arab Spring – and the avant-garde classical and rock of Geomungo Factory (South Korea). As well as showcasing non-Western pop music; the Bass Stage will celebrate 5-year anniversary and blast out slices of modern bass and electronic music with a global twist. Urban Groove stage showcases some of the best international innovative acts such as Coely (Congo/Belgium), Next of Kin (NL), Gato Preto (PT) the world and Amsterdam has to offer.

Roots Open Air requires a small entrance fee of €7.50. Entrance for children aged 16 and under remains free.

For me the higlight of the festival is the yearly Roots Open Air. One of the best parties of the year! Check out the schedule below, see you in the Oosterpark on July 7 to make a dance?

Amsterdam Roots Open Air 2013

Amsterdam Roots Festival 2013

Amsterdam Roots Festival 2013

June 23, 2013

Interview Uxía Martinez Botana – The musician

The musician

Musicians are quite perfectionistic. Are you as well? Will you ever be satisfied with your own work?

You know, I think that when you love something with all your heart and you have the passion to give yourself fully, it’s  never good enough. It’s not that I’m unsatisfied with what I get sometimes, but in a way it’s never enough. I think it always has to change, it always has to be refreshing or new, and for sure there is always something that I don’t know at all and that I can improve for my own development. That keeps me moving, I love movement. If that means being called a perfectionist, then yes I am, but only in the area of playing, in my “real life” I think I’m far of being perfectionistic… haha.

What is the key for success?

I don´t know if there is a key. If you have talent, ambition, work hard for it and love it , it should work. Especially the last one, because if you play it’s not something that you do just to become successful or rich. Music is something to be done because without it “you can’t be”.

Which audience did you enjoy most?

I like all audiences, but I don’t like it when the audience is too noisy. I mean, when there is a really special Pianissimo ending, or a really special moment, and then they cough just right after, open a candy or a phone sounds… it really breaks the moment… no, I do not like that… haha.

I like silence in a concert. Sometimes I enjoy much more silence than applause, silence is more special. I also don’t like when people leave the hall immediately when musicians are still on the stage and people are still clapping after the concert, I find it quite disrespectful.

How do you deal with playing a masculine instrument as a young woman in such a competitive world?

That’s the million-dollar question. I´ve been asked this many times. Look, I think in music, and regarding instruments, when it comes to playing instruments, there are no sexual differences. I could also think that piano, flute, violin or harp are instruments more adequate for women because they look more feminine and some of them are smaller in dimensions, and in all of them I know excellent male and female players as well. I find it extremely superficial and a non-sense matter to spend time thinking like that, a part of retrograde for society development and old fashioned.

I am not interested if a person is a man or a woman, black, yellow, white from Singapore, Italy or the North Pole. I’m interested in what the musician can give.

Yes but it’s a fact that there are more men then women playing your instrument…

Yes, it is a fact, because in the past years it’s been different. Today I know a lot of female bass players. There is no sense to always keep everything the same way. Then life and the world would always be in the same point, there would be total lack of movement, improvement and innovation, so what is the sense of continuing then?

I must also say, that in my personal experience, I never felt treated different or less by my bass colleagues in the orchestra or my teachers for being a woman. So I haven’t met many people who think like that after I started working with them.

How many days a year are you on tour?

Well, first I was not so much, maybe one month or two. Now it’s between 150 and 195 days a year that I’m away for concerts.

And how is the touring? I can imagine you stay in fancy hotels, you go for dinners in restaurants all the time, you see the concert halls, is it all glamour and party?

No it’s not just like that. When you go on tour, its actually quite hard. Sometimes you hardly sleep because you have to wake up the next morning at 6 to catch the next plane and maybe you finish your concert at 11 the night before, so you really don’t get much time to see the city or to enjoy the hotel, the only thing you want is to rest and then you move to the next city and then again rehearsal and concert. The important thing about the tours is the quality of the concert. It’s not a holiday, and is not a torture either to work like that, don’t get me wrong! Sometimes there is time to enjoy a city for a short time or to refresh a bit, but you shouldn’t forget that you are not on a trip for pleasure.

Uxía Martinez Botana

Uxía Martinez Botana in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam

Recently you played with Kremerata Baltica, how did you end up there?

Yes. Through a project in Frankfurt. It was a wonderful surprise; because when I played in Frankfurt I never expected that something so special was going to come to me, and I’m very grateful already.

Why is it special?  There is a difference compared to other orchestras?

I do enjoy all orchestra’s, of course. As a bass player you play an instrument which is mainly an “orchestra instrument”. Although now it’s changing. Its already taking solo roles or much more roles than just chamber music.

Kremerata is a small group with a big soul; sometimes big groups have small souls…. if you get what I mean… of course, what a group can offer to you, doesn’t depend on how many musicians are inside, but what kind of musicians are in it.  Kremerata Baltica can give something unique and very strong. Let’s say that they have a special blink and that’s why I like to work with them very much.

How is it to work with them? In which language are the rehearsals?

It’s very new for me. The last project with them I found incredibly interesting musically speaking, inspiring and very refreshing. The rehearsals are in English, some parts are in their own language, but honestly, this is not a very relevant matter. Music is an international language; I do not need understand what they say all the time to be able to work with them. If there is something really specific, then yes, but if is not, as a musician, you should be able to feel what they want after playing a few times with them. Let’s say it’s another type of communication… the one that is not with words but with feelings.

And anyway I like to learn new languages so it’s also even interesting for me to try to understand something about what they say in their own language!

You were the only Spanish in the group? Were there people from other countries as well?

Yes, I was the only Spanish. There were of course people from other countries, mainly Baltic.

How does it feel to be the only Spanish in the group?  

I’m not there to compare passports, or to feel special for having a different one. I’m there to give the best of me as a player for the group. Quality is important, not passport.

What is your goal from here?

I have many goals. What I really enjoy to see now is how the development of my instrument is changing. There is a new generation of bass players who are really into taking risks and not limit the instrument only to be sitting in a chair in an orchestra forever.  It’s something new, avanguardistic and refreshing as well for the public, and so far it’s working very well how the public is receiving this, it’s having a nice welcome by the audience.

You’re practising all the time…  How many hours? What’s next?

Well, you should visit your beloved one every day. The routine of hours of practising depends on the type of concert I have.

The month of July I will be touring with the Kremerata Baltica. Next year I will have a few projects with a bass duo with  bass player Risto Vuolanne, in the Mozart festival in A Coruña, Spain. This will be mainly contemporary music. I’ve also got arecitals in Holland and Spain coming up, a part of the orchestra repertoire.


Uxía Martinez Botana

Uxía Martinez Botana on stage in Odessa

June 23, 2013

Interview Uxía Martinez Botana – The woman

The woman

How do your loved ones, your family, how do they deal with you being away all the time?

My family, not so good in the beginning, it was very difficult for them to accept it. I was 17 when I auditioned for Amsterdam and left Spain, but at the end they actually saw there is no way to change my mind, so they accepted it.

And besides your family, of course they take you as you are, but is it possible to have a love life?

Ah the love life… this is not easy. I won’t lie, it’s really not easy. It’s very difficult to find somebody that can understand that you are away so often and that can actually understand that in a way, playing is always going to come first and that sometimes you really want to be alone in “your box”.  There must be someone with such a strong connection with you that your lifestyle shouldn’t be able to affect your feelings, there must be a big understanding between each other. Something like that.

It does exist, but it’s rare to find. If you find it, you should really take care of it and not take it superficially because you are being really lucky, it’s a present of life.

The other option is of course to have a long list of lovers everywhere! Also possible of course! Haha!

So the playing comes first, can you describe your relationship with your instrument?

Hahaha…well, this one is one of those strong relationships, and a very difficult one as well. It is not an instrument that plays how I want it to be played, it plays how he wants to be played, so ..

…so it’s like a normal relationship…?

…yes…. I call him my husband because is the only one I have a total commitment with. I was playing on much less quality Double basses before this instrument fell in my hands. When I saw it, I had the opportunity to try it first; it took me two seconds to fell in love with the sound (with his soul). I didn’t stop until I got it for myself.

When it was mine already, and I started to spend a lot of time with him, I felt there was only space for him and not for me. I got tired of always being flexible and I stopped playing it after a while. I put it in a case in a corner in my place and went back to my old bass, the one I had before. It took me three months to return to him…   Now we are doing better, not perfect, but better and at least we didn’t divorce again.

But then it’s actually a love/hate relationship?

I don’t think it’s a love/hate relationship. This is an instrument from 1854 with very particular and peculiar characteristics. I was very young when it came to me, I didn´t want to understand him, I wanted him to understand me only, that’s what basically happened.

Really young? What is your age now?

I’m 24.

Music takes a lot of time of your life, would you ever give up playing for for example a family life?

I will not give away playing for anything or anyone. I just can’t imagine my life without playing. I think if I would stop playing I would stop being me. It’s something that is totally out of the question for me. I don´t really understand why should I give up playing for having a family.

I hope it’s possible to have both. Honestly, to stop or do less of what I´m doing now, I think it will drag me into a depression, I will stop feeling alive. As far as I know myself I have always preferred to feel fully alive than half dead.

Did playing ever cause you a break up or the end of a relationship?  Did you sacrifice someone you loved for the music?


So you spent quite some years in Holland already, Do you feel Dutch in something already? Did something change?

Well, when you move country there is always something that changes. It’s true, I left Spain, but Spain is not out of my soul or heart.

What else do you do besides playing music?

Well, I have a lot of hobbies. Now I enjoy swimming very much. I love dancing salsa and listening to rap music. One thing I really love is research of the Italian music of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century, not only the music, painting, writing and sculptures, I find the Italian 17th and 18th century amazing, I share this passion with a friend violin player who is really crazy about it as well. I also enjoy collecting antique books, this is something I do together with my father. I love Ducati’s but it’s not really possible to drive them in Holland.

Favourite place in this world?

Number one in my list is still the Eolie islands in Sicily; definitely a paradise not to be found.

Favourite person in this world?

Hahaha….. very smart question, well fitted. Haha..

Is there a difference between the woman and the musician? Are they two? Or only one?

It’s a difficult question… In my love relationships I always put them far away of my “musical part” because I like to have two different worlds, I find my balance like that. I do not like to feel that the other person can step into my ideas or my musical world.

The person who will be with me, he will know me as a woman but can´t really step in my other world. I have only one world for that person, but for myself I do like to live in two.  I don´t find it very comfortable if the person who is with me in a relationship, tries to step too much in the other world, because I would feel like I’d have no space… I do need a space, which is only mine, and no one goes in or out, except me.  I need that for my personal balance, I do like to feel alone in one of them.

I think in my case, I have two mental chips. One for the feelings of the person I love, which I never mix with my feelings for playing. I dislike it a lot when personal gets connected with profession, I do not even enjoy to talk much about the ideas of the concert or what I think or worries me professionally with the person I’m in a relationship with. I know there are people that can talk and share and discuss everything coming up in their mind with their boyfriend of girlfriend. I would like that the person I love can create one world “for us”  and the “musical world” is solely mine.

What inspires you? Do you have a musical idol that you follow or references?

What inspires me? Well, the people I work with, who can bring you a lot of new ideas and new references and inspiration and the love for music and my own instrument. I don´t really have what is called a “musical idol”. I think if you have what is called an “idol” it means that you want to imitate and follow this persons’ steps and manners in all ways and in everything he or she does, which I find limiting for your own development, but I do pick up ideas from other players.

What fulfils you the most in life?

Well of course playing is really a big part of it because when I play it really makes my soul totally full. To give a concert, gives me a full feeling. Sometimes it seems that I don’t need more, but I’m human as well, so yes I do need more, so… concerts, my family and my friends and the people that love me, and I love back. The Love for the people who love you and you love back can move you as fast as the energy of a concert.

 to be continued…

Uxía Martinez Botana

Uxía Martinez Botana – photo by Victor Gil Gazapo

June 23, 2013

Interview Uxía Martinez Botana – The beginnings

The beginnings…

Where did  the interest for classical music come from? Do you come from a musician family?

Well, in my case it’s kind of rare, because I don’t come from a musician family, but my parents were very much into the classical music world; they visited a lot to classical music concerts and events etc.… When I was little, and I watched people playing, it looked to me as something shiny and therefore extremely attractive to me as a kid, I wanted to do that too.

When I was five years old, I told my mother I wanted to stop going to my regular school and start attending the school of music, because I thought it would be much more fun. She answered me I was too little, and that it was not possible to stop attending the regular school. I´m a bit stubborn, so I thought my mother was not taking me serious, so I escaped my school twice and appeared home saying that I was not going back to school, unless they would enrol me in music school. For a year I insisted so much, that when I turned 6, right after my birthday, my parents took me to the conservatory entrance exam. That’s how my interest for music started.

Why did you start playing the bass? Why did you choose for the bass?

That’s quite a history, I think it kind of fell in my hands, but not with an easy beginning.

Back then it was a very different musical educative system than it is now. If you were accepted in the conservatory, you were getting inside following the order of the first letter of your first surname (In Spain you carry your mothers’ and your fathers’ last name, so you have two last names). I’m Martinez, so I was almost at the end of the list. I had in mind to choose cello, but when my turn came, all the places for cello were taken and the only instruments left were bassoon, horn and double bass. I was a bit disappointed, so I told the lady that was making the list that I didn´t want any of those instruments and that I would come back next year for cello. My parents didn’t want another year of me insisting on studying music, so, they took me apart and told me that I waited so long for going to a conservatory that now I should at least choose something, and later on if I wanted, I could change the instrument.

My mother said to me I should take horn, (she loves that instrument), my father didn’t say anything and went back with me to the lady that was making the list of instruments. At the back, when my mother was in the front, he whispered in my ear that if I was going to choose horn, I should keep in mind that soon my lips were going to get deformed, and later on I wouldn´t be able to have a boyfriend because he wouldn’t want to kiss me with lips like that… Hahaha… he said this because he didn’t want a wind instrument at home, and definitely he knew how to change my mind in less than a second, so I said double bass. I was convinced. I thought double bass would be just a little taller than cello and that I would not notice the difference so much. When we went for the first appointment with the teacher in the conservatory, they showed me the biggest size of double basses, a 4/4 size. I found the look of the instrument horrible, it was 4 heads taller than me, it looked ugly and sounded ugly, so I went out crying. I got angry with everybody and didn’t talk with my parents for some time. Later on, I was not so happy in the conservatory, the teacher was not really a bass teacher and we were not doing much. I became really unmotivated and my mother asked if I wanted to quit, I told her that I really wanted to play but that it was weird, at the conservatory we were not studying anything, I was really getting bored. So she decided to do research and look for a really good teacher and indeed she did find him. I started having double bass lessons with the one I consider my first teacher, Vitold Patsevich, ex principal of the Moscow Virtuosos Orchestra and I learned piano as well with his wife Tatiana. Definitely it was there where the game started for me.

At what age was your first solo concert?

When I was 6. We did these solo concerts with my Russian teacher every weekend, it was like a game. He could really make it look like a fun game, and not as something to be under pressure of. In the concert, suddenly I forgot one bar, and then I thought like “I forgot a bar, it has no sense to continue playing, because people will not understand it”, so I got really angry with myself that moment, I stopped playing, left the bass on the floor and left the stage hahahaha…  My teacher was laughing a lot. He still makes jokes about it.

That was the perfectionist in you

Yes… I guess.

Why did you come to Amsterdam?

Well, first of all its because in Spain, my teacher was advising me that if I wanted more, I should really leave, because I wouldn’t find it in Spain. For me Amsterdam was the best option because of the language. When I got here, I didn’t speak English very well and even less German (to go to Germany was the other option). Amsterdam was the most flexible option, the school here is really open, it’s very international, so I could have lessons with the teachers here, but also with other guest teachers from Berlin, so this was the perfect place…

And everything is in English here?

Yes, I liked that flexibility that they were offering that open-mindedness.

to be continued…

Uxía Martinez Botana

Uxía Martinez Botana