The wandering soul of Ivan Solano

Interviews 04.03.2021

Ivan Solano: "To be a composer today is to have a visceral desire to write music

From Madrid to Strasbourg, the Spanish composer is multiplying his projects: creations in Europe with a compatriot choreographer, workshops with schoolchildren and a vast research work on the musician's gesture... Meet an artist on all fronts.

Madrid, Paris, Rome, Strasbourg... You speak six languages... You have a wandering soul!

It's true that I feel deeply European, and even international... Like many musicians, in fact, and that has been the case for several centuries. I come from Madrid, a city with which I still have many ties and projects, but I studied for six years in Budapest, in Paris, in Strasbourg in Ivan Fedele's class, and then I spent three years in Rome, at the Academia Nazionale de Santa Cecilia... I returned to Strasbourg in 2016, to begin a doctorate in musicology. My thesis is about the gesture of the composer and the performer. I work with ensembles in Strasbourg, in Paris, in Spain. Travelling and studying in different countries allows me to acquire great mental and creative flexibility. And my sources of inspiration are very varied: in my pieces, clarinet, ondes Martenot, piano, music and dance, singing, electroacoustics... 

I am thinking in particular of your piece "File d'attente" for electroacoustics and... queue!

There is still too much separation between the popular and the learned. It's strange, because composers of all eras have switched between learned and popular music, I'm thinking of Bartók, Stravinsky, Granados, Bizet, Albéniz... I'm convinced that it's possible to offer the public a new experience of today's music. "Contemporary music" is not an aesthetic, as people would have us believe, it is only a chronological marker. There is a need for free, open contemporary programming, with a wide variety of compositions that surprise. There is a tendency in the musical world today to create closed nuclei: a composer must not be an instrumentalist, especially not... Unfortunately, there are still musical chapels. We classify composers, performers, music... It's a shame. In 2021, we must open up all that.

How can we decompartmentalize?

It's very interesting for a composer to go and meet less formatted audiences. I have conducted several musical projects with children: with the2nd cycle string orchestra of the Strasbourg conservatory, and then with the music and dance classes of several secondary schools. Composing with young people is very important to me. I also work with them on choice and freedom of listening. Why do we listen to this or that music? I want to show them that you can build an imagination around music that seems less accessible. Our relationship with the public is starting to change. With the pandemic, in particular, we're realising that a concert is in itself a performance, something alive in a given place. For me, a concert venue is not like a church.

You mentioned dance and your thesis subject. Gesture and movement are dear to you: you have begun a collaboration with one of your compatriots, the Spanish choreographer Eduardo Vallejo Pinto... 

Together we created The Holly Trinity, a 50-minute dance piece. We were extremely lucky: the premiere, on December 10th, took place at the Teatro del Bosque, in Madrid! To set foot in a theatre again was very moving, almost unreal... Edouardo is an absolutely incredible artist and I am delighted to continue my work with him for a new creation, planned for September, this time in Germany, at the Staatstheater in Hanover, with the theatre's corps de ballet.
The Holy Trinity will be performed again in Madrid at the Fernan Gómez Theatre as the closing piece of the Danza en la Villa 2021 Festival.

The Holy Trinity / Ogmia from Eduardo Vallejo Pinto on Vimeo.

Which ensembles from Strasbourg are you working with at the moment?

During the first confinement, I worked with Dreieck Interferences, the collective led by double bass player Stéphane Clor, with whom I launched into very electro compositions, which flirted with techno. I wanted to produce danceable tracks! 

In Strasbourg, the relationships between musicians from different countries, different styles, are intense. I have been lucky enough to work with musicians from all over the world, as far away as Korea and Colombia. France and Spain, border countries, have important exchanges, a porosity. The great Spanish musical centres, which concentrate the energy of creation, are Madrid of course, Barcelona, and the Basque Country with Bilbao. There are a few festivals in the south, in Seville and Granada. 

Interview by Suzanne Gervais


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