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