The ‘Latin jazz’ group Quinteto Tango Extremo is scheduled to perform on November 5, 2009 at the Qingdao Concert Hall (across from Zhan Qiao pier, 1 Lanshan Lu). The following interview with group founder Tanya Schaap and Latin Grammy winning guitarist Gustavo Mozzi also appears in the Oct ’09 issue of Arteffect, courtesy of Kadenza Art and Media and Yellow Rock in association with Qingdao Evening Daily.
Have you and your band ever been to China?
Tanya: No, this is the first time we are going to be in China and I definitely hope it won’t be the last time! I am extremely looking forward to it. China has always really impressed me, so for me it is a dream come true. All the others in the group have also never been to China.
Gustavo: It’s my first time that I am coming to China and with an enormous enthusiasm I look forward to getting to know a country that for us Argentineans has always felt like an incredible place. I am pleased for the opportunity to communicate with and learn about the rich and exclusive culture of China.
What is your impression of Chinese traditional music?
Tanya: In my opinion Chinese traditional music is one of a kind, with a special place in the spectrum of the World music. And then we have to keep in mind that in Western Europe the average person doesn’t know half of all that is going on regarding China’s musical traditions. What I especially like is that the music is so consonant, which is what makes it very peaceful. I am familiar with the Chinese violin-concerto Liang Zhu, which to me, is a perfect example of Western music and traditional Chinese music (and instruments) getting together. My next project will be to study this concerto!
Gustavo: In my country there exists a big curiousity and respect for Chinese culture. There is an important Chinese community in my city (Buenos Aires). From a very young age, I remember being in the audience of Peking opera performances. I still recall the huge impression that the orchestra and the voices made on me. All of this propelled me to get to know more about the history and musical styles of China.
Have you ever heard some modern Chinese bands?
Tanya: Unfortunately I have never really been in the position to get to know modern Chinese music, but I am convinced this is going to change as soon as we arrive in China!
Gustavo: Although the influence of Chinese traditions has found its way to Argentina, modern Chinese bands seem to have more problems with that. But this tour opens for me the incredible opportunity to get in touch with these new expressions.
What is it about Argentinean music that appeals to you?
Tanya: I studied classical violin at the conservatories of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. In Rotterdam there was a department of Argentinean tango. As soon as I first heard it, I fell in love with that music. I started to study and listen to all the tango ensembles from Argentina. That was about 10 years ago. Now, I have been to Argentina several times and it has become a bit like my second home. I also play in an Argentinean orchestra called ‘Café de los maestros’. In this orchestra I play the violin together with Fernando Suarez Paz, my major inspiration, who has regularly played in the quinteto of tango-icon Astor Piazzolla.
Gustavo: The music I play comes from the four main musical styles in Buenos Aires: The Tango, the Milonga, the Candombe and the Murga. This is music that is played by all different streams of society and can be heard in ‘salons’ (places where people can dance the tango), theatres, and also outside in the streets, with popular fiestas, for example during the Carnaval of Buenos Aires. The tango is attracting younger audiences again. Young people are increasingly interested in dancing to and playing tango music once again. The Murga was only played on special festive occasions in the past, but can now be heard almost every day in the streets of Buenos Aires.
What/who are your musical influences?
Tanya: My influences are from very different artists and composers. To name a few: The Beatles, Sting, Astor Piazzolla, Sexteto Mayor, James Taylor, classical music in general, and Brazilian masters like Ernesto Nazareth and Wagner Tiso.
Gustavo: The way I play is quite academic, but my influences come from the traditional popular music of my country and Latin America.
How did you decide to come to China to perform?
Tanya: It all just kind of came together without planning. Our orchestra (Tango Extremo) has been touring all over the world, and soon for the first time in China. For me personally, this tour is very adventurous. I can’t wait to get there!
Gustavo: This tour is the result of projects I am doing together with my friends of the Quinteto Tango Extremo who are coordinating this tour. I and my dear colleague Facundo Guevara were specially invited musicians on this tour. It’s a pleasure and a big honour for me to play with this group, because the Quinteto Tango Extremo consists of musicians with a lot of sensibility and talent. Besides that, they are all great people to be around! To be touring through your amazing country, with these amazing people, is for me true pleasure.
What are you looking forward to doing/seeing in China?
Tanya: Besides getting into the music I actually really look forward to all the Chinese food. When I close my eyes I can see myself digging in to a big plate of excellent food, while in the background one can see the skyline of a big Chinese city. And the shopping…. I also look forward to the shopping!
What advice would you give to young musicians in China?
Tanya: The advice that I would like to give to young musicians in China is: do your own thing; study hard and listen to a lot to recordings of your favourites; and keep in mind that you can basically achieve anything, or as we say in Dutch: ‘if there is a wish, there is a way’.
Gustavo:Simply try to be consistent with your artistic dreams, work hard, study a lot and always remember that music is a marvelous possibility for crossing any existing borders.