LSO Player Interview: German Clavijo LSO Viola

LSO Violist German Clavijo talks to us about his musical life in and out of the LSO, his highlights in the coming season and his growing passion for conducting...

What are your earliest musical memories?
I was introduced to much music as a child, not only classical, but also tango and a lot of folk music. When I was about 7 my father took me practically every week to listen to concerts in La Plata, Argentina. It was from about then that I realised music making was very special. I think by the age of 12 it was very clear in my mind that music was my greatest passion in life. 

When did you join the LSO and what was it that attracted you to the orchestra?
I joined the LSO in 2009. I had always admired the full string sound of the LSO, but actually every section of the orchestra is phenomenal. Making music with so many great conductors and the amazing colleagues is an endless learning process and a real privilege!

What do you enjoy the most about the life of a professional orchestral player? 
Mostly I enjoy the intensity and depth I feel when the Orchestra is performing on stage. Even after all these years I find the communication and energy inside the LSO absolutely astonishing.

Outside of the LSO do you have any other musical projects? 
Each year I run a chamber music festival 'Siete Lagos' in an idyllic part of Patagonia, Argentina. It is a great atmosphere to make music in and probably the place in the world where you can see the most stars in the sky at night. And conducting of course! Which has been my greatest passion in the last few years. 

What is it that particularly draws you to conducting?
It is simply the music - the global emotion of a composer, of a piece of art. It might sound like a cliché but it is overwhelming how much beauty we can find in the music we perform. Working with musicians such as Valery Gergiev, Sir Colin Davis and Bernard Haitink was what provided me with the inspiration and the energy to make this journey. 

As a conductor do you favour a particular style of repertoire?
I identify very strongly with Beethoven’s humanism and I am also totally in love with the Mozart and Puccini operas. And then of course I adore Mendelssohn, Mahler, Stravinsky and many others! Each great composer has their own way of communicating, their own dimension and emotions. It seems to me that in order to make this part of your DNA you have to be able to think, feel and breathe like they did. 

Have you got any musical idols or role models?
When I was younger my idols were Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and Pink Floyd. Now I don’t have idols but I admire many things about the conductors Carlos Kleiber and Sergiu Celibidache. 

Are there any highlights for you in the forthcoming LSO season?
In October we will be playing Stravinsky with Valery Gergiev (9, 11 & 18 Oct) which is always an incredibly exciting and magical experience. I am also very much looking forward to the concerts with Bernard Haitink in London (15, 20 & 23 Sep) and in Japan. What can I say? His concerts are always a deep spiritual experience for me. 

And are there any highlights for you in the coming months outside of the LSO?
I am terribly excited to be conducting the ALEPH Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble I formed in 2012 with many of the best students at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where I teach. We are performing Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale and the full incidental music of Beethoven’s Egmont at Goodenough College, London on 16 September. In November I return to my native country, Argentina, to conduct Brahms’ Fourth Symphony and to perform Benjamin Yusupov’s Viola Rock Tango Concerto with the National Orchestra.

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