Interview on the occasion of the publication of her album ‘VISION’ in the magazine Melómano

My compositional style is contemporary, a mixture of tradition and modernity, but with its own identifying characteristics

María Parra

By Susana Castro

Today her new record project, ‘VISION‘, comes to light through digital platforms, the first with the Warner Music Spain record label, with which she has signed a collaboration agreement for the coming years. What has the signing of this agreement meant to you?

It has been the culmination of a long process of transformation on my part, musically speaking, in which the modern composer that was in me has been forged and consolidated, and that side lived, for a long time, with the interpreter of immortal classics who I have dedicated my entire career.

A label like Warner represents, and embraces, everything I am today as a musician: classical interpreter and creator of what has come to be called ‘neoclassical piano, crossover piano‘, with its own language.

What works can the public find on your new album?

The works are conceived as ‘songs’, in terms of duration and in terms of format, more typical of pop music. They are also music sequences of an imaginary with a cinematographic background, since, even without having lyrics, music does invite you to imagine a story, a visual short.

Obviously there is a background that I cannot disguise and it is that of all the classical music of the great creators that has been impregnated in me over several years of study. That is the substratum on which I build a story, musically speaking, to which other more current music styles such as pop, folk, jazz or flamenco adhere. They are languages that are part of me as a listener, but also as a scholar. At the end emerges a very personal fusion, ‘my music’.

Is this the first time that you have “dared” to include works of your own creation in one of your albums?

No, I ‘dared’ before on my two classic albums as bonus tracks, but very timidly… So, in ‘Rêverie’ (Verso, 2014) I incorporated Il pleut sur Paris, a jazzy piece, and in ‘Mouvement’ (Orpheus Classical, 2016) I added Maria Martha tango, a tango dedicated to Martha Argerich.

Maria Parra Visión

How would you define your compositional style? Do you feel more comfortable in this side or as a pianist?

My compositional style is contemporary, a mixture of tradition and modernity, but with its own identifying characteristics. I am a composer who plays her own music, so I would be on the margin, perhaps, of the idea of the classical-contemporary side of composing and being others who interpret your music.

In my case, I am the author of what has come to be called ‘neoclassical piano’, or ‘new contemporary piano’, but with a wider audience, an area in which I have discovered a large number of pianist colleagues in a similar way.

In any case, I am reluctant to put labels on the XXI century, since there is a lot of fusion and miscegenation of all kinds of languages, for me all legitimate, as long as they are done with pleasure and respect.

Frankly, what I feel totally comfortable with is being a pianist who plays her own music. It is my sound universe, according to my way of being, to what I have lived, how I conceive the world, emotionally, musically.

It is me, and that “being me” has implicit a search throughout many years, from introspection, to know and understand who I am and accept myself as a human being. This is closely linked to having discovered who I am as an artist, as a pianist.

What are the styles that have most influenced your career? Are they reflected in these works?

The styles that have left the most impression on me would be, within the classical, Impressionism, Romanticism and Spanish music. More current, the jazz of pianists like Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock or Winton Kelly, to name a few; the flamenco of Paco de Lucía, Camarón… Pop and rock since the 50s. And then there is a part of folk and singer-songwriter that accompanied me during my childhood with an immense list if you unite them with the most contemporary ones. There is a lot of music studied and listened to that I have alchemized through me.

Maria Parra
© ZabetPhoto

In addition, in September the album will be released in physical format, what led you to launch it in two phases?

The launch was initially scheduled for May 15 with the presentation concert on May 19 as well, so given the situation that came upon us with the COVID-19, without knowing times of de-escalation, and with the intention of not to excessively delay the launch, we ventured to do it in two phases.

Thus, on the one hand there is the digital format to start the summer and, on the other, the physical format, together with the fact of presenting it in concert that we glimpse for last summer, with the idea of meeting with the public in more or less conditions. Releasing an album without being able to present it in concert made us very sad.

Maria Parra
© ZabetPhoto

Despite the situation that we are still going through, full of uncertainty, is the project going to take the stage soon?

This situation has meant a break for everyone, but it has kept many of us active, both sharing concerts or talks on networks, and studying, composing or teaching.

The fact that my album ‘VISION’ is currently being released is combined with the fact that it is a new or unknown artistic facet and that in a way has generated, or may generate, interest and expectation.

We leave the presentation of the physical format for September to experience it, in a close way, on September 21 at Galileo Galilei, and on September 22 at CentroCentro, within the ‘Disidencias’ (Dissent) cycle, both in Madrid.

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