Edson Beltrami (Brazil)
Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Edson Beltrami has performed as Solo Flutist with the most important orchestras of his country: São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, São Paulo Young Symphony Orchestra, EMP(Piracicaba Music School) Symphony Orchestra, Tatuí Symphony Orchestra, Radio MEC Symphony Orchestra of Rio de Janeiro, Ceará Chamber Orchestra, Campinas Symphony Orchestra, and others. Since 2003, Beltrami has performed as Guest First Solo Flute with the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra-OSESP and traveled with this Orchestra on a USA Tour in 2009. As Principal Flute with the Bachiana Philharmonic Orchestra–SP, Beltrami toured the USA twice throughout major halls including Lincoln Center.
He has worked with many well-known conductors such as: Eleazar de Carvalho, Gerard Devos, Hans Martin Schneidt , Krzysztof Penderecki, Antoni Wit, Eiji Oue, Kurt Masur, Frank Shipway, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Claus Peter Flor, Pinchas Zukerman, Kristjan Järvi, Gennady Rozhdestvensky.
In 1995, Beltrami was awarded 1st Prize in the PRÊMIO ELDORADO DE MÚSICA, the most important competition of the Latin America. Prior to that, he had won 1st Prize in numerous competitions, such as:
• Concurso Solistas da Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado - SP - 1st Prize
• Concurso do Colégio Objetivo - São Paulo - 1st Prize
• Concurso de Música de Câmera da UnB - Brasília - 1st Prize
• Concurso Jovens Instrumentistas da TV Globo - RJ - 1st Prize • Concurso Jovens Instrumentistas do Brasil - Piracicaba - 1st Prize
• Concurso de Música de Câmera - Pró Arte - RJ - 1stPrize
• Concurso Jovens Instrumentistas - Campinas - 1st Prize
Developing an intensive career as flutist, composer and conductor, Beltrami was invited to work at the “Campos do Jordão Winter Festival” as Festival Orchestra Conductor (1993) and is, since 1994, the Symphonic Band Conductor at the same Festival. Currently, he is Assistant Conductor in the Bachiana Philharmonic Orchestra of São Paulo, and 1st Solo Flute.
As a composer, he has his works included in orchestral programs throughout South America as well as the USA, Europe, Australia and Africa. Several of his works have been premiered in the USA, Russia and Japan. His compositions are currently published by Cayambis Music Press and Brazilian Music Publications.
Beltrami received his early musical studies first with his father and afterward at the Conservatório de Tatuí with João Dias Carrasqueira. Among his teachers were Antonio Carlos Carrasqueira (BRA), Jean Noel Saghaard (FR.- BRA), Alexandr Magnin (SWITZ), Alain Marion (FR), Pierre-Yves Artaud (FR), Pierre Andre Vallade (FR), Keith Underwood (USA).
Edson Beltrami plays on a Miyazawa 14k Flute.
Edson Beltrami (Brazil)
We had the opportunity to ask Edson a few questions. Take a look at his thoughts on preparing for auditions, how to keep orchestral excerpts fresh as well as advice for upcoming flutists.
1. Who are (or have been) the biggest influences on your flute playing?
Our influences change through the years. Maybe because the development of our critic spirit. Of course the first one for me was my teacher, João Dias Carrasqueira. He created more than one generation of great artists, like Tadeu Coelho for example. I remember the very first LP I had: Vivaldi Concertos op. X by Severino Gazzelloni. It had huge impact on me. That “staccato” just knocked me out. I was about 6. Then others came; Nicolet, Rampal, Bennett, and of course, Galway. Some of them were very important for me, especially for technical reasons like Andreas Blau and Nicolet. Besides the influence, I think there is also something called admiration. For example, today is impossible not to admire Pahud. I had the opportunity to play with him here at the orchestra and he is simply a complete musician. Illuminated. I think we are influenced not only by flutists. Other musicians, directors, composers, philosophers, writers, they can, somehow, influence us, and bring some practical change on our way of playing. Thru all this years, many of these icons came and for some reason influenced me. Some were added, some were replaced, but all are masters for different reasons and left a mark on my way of playing or music thinking.
2. What does a typical day look like for you?
In the last years, I have been teaching at a big Conservatory here in Brazil. I have played in two orchestras. I have been involved a lot with Orchestral Conducting here in Brazil and outside. Finally, as a composer I work a lot with commissions and etc. I have a contract with publishing company in USA. So…there is no such thing like “typical” day. What I try to do is to keep my playing in shape doing everyday my Moyses, Reicherts, Grafs, Harmonics, Scales, etc. And, important, I need time for my wife. Besides that, I have my emails, and of course some minutes for my PlayStation. So…typical? hmm..not.
3. With such a robust orchestral music career, what do you do for inspiration when performing the same repertoire and solo excerpts over and over again?
Sometimes, in orchestra, conductors do it for us. They challenge us to do it differently. Sometimes they ask so different that it’s almost unnatural for us. Then, the challenge is to find a way to make it become natural. You must challenge yourself to make it better than ever, all the time. Some pieces are so difficult, for many reasons, that you will never be satisfied. That is the magic. Besides, it always like a puzzle. If you change one piece, it’s an all-new world. A work you have played hundreds of times, suddenly you have a new first oboe by your side. Everything changes. That is magic. And it must be. All these challenges make me fill like a fifteen years old flute student, trying to manage this metal tube and make it right. I just love this. By the way, I’m not fifteen anymore. For solo repertoire, I think, it is the same. You must challenge yourself to do it better, always. And when I say “better”, it doesn’t mean only technically, but also about comprehension of the music, to get deeper and deeper on the structure. And always asking: Was it ok the way I used to play/think it? So, never is boring. Always there will be something to inspire you.
4. How would you advise flutists to begin practicing for an orchestral audition and/or competition?
I think there is no other answer than just practice like crazy. “Almost” on an obsessive way. When I went to Kobe Competition, I had the pleasure to meet many flutists who were practicing for that exclusive competition for the last 2 years (it was not my case unfortunately…). On this way of practice, you reach a level of performance that, even if some “accident” happens on the most important moment, some level of perfection will be maintained, and the “music” will be there. And believe me: Accidents happen! Other important factor, for me, is to understand why you are doing that particular event. Many flutists do just for the pleasure of the competition. I see no problem on that. In my case, my first teacher found out that the only way to make me practice more was just applying me on as many competitions as possible. Regarding orchestral competitions, I think, there are some particularities. Playing on an orchestra, sometimes, involves changing your style of playing. And, sometimes, this is really necessary if you want to be successful on a competition like that. I remember a very good friend who told me that she tried to enter a very famous European orchestra, twice, without success. She was at that time already famous, lots of solo recordings, recitals all over the world, etc. After the second try she decided to ask the Principal Flute of that orchestra the reasons of failure. He was very clear: “You play well, BUT, if want to be here you must to play on a different way, OUR way.” Well, as she uses to say; we play to be happy, to make people happy, but also to have a great job, and she wanted that job. She spent some months changing and finally she was successful on the third attempt. She played for many years on that orchestra. And happy! It is important also to know the repertoire completely. Not only to know how to play it, but really deeply. Different versions of playing, the context of that solo, or passage, etc. I believe that it would be impossible to build a musical maturity or technical intimacy with a work like, for example, a “Daphnis”, without knowing deeply the context where that solo is “inserted”. It’s important for any flutist to be flexible. You must know different versions of the repertoire and, if, possible, to be capable of understand and justify these different versions. So…listen, listen a lot.
5. What excerpts/pieces do you find to be the most challenging and why?
Bach, for me, is always a big and nice trouble. In his case, I think, HE challenged us. Musically there is always something hidden, and suspicious. Baroque and Classical, especially Mozart, in general, is trouble for us, especially because there is something almost like a “tabu”. Young people especially suffer with doubts about technical and style problems: Should I do this staccato or sweeter tonguing? Should I use vibrato, no vibrato, more or less vibrato? Should I emphasize this note or the next? Well, it’s the same for me. I have my way of playing, but I’m always thinking: Is this right/beautiful? On orchestra, you never know what kind of “version” the conductor prefers, and that, sometimes, is a huge problem. Of course you do some prior research about him, but, actually, you never know until the first rehearsal. Actually, in my opinion, we are watching on the last two decades some change on the musical world about this. Let’s watch very closely. Of course, if I have to play a Khachaturian or some Jolivet, I will have to practice like crazy, but, for me it’s just a matter of practicing and knowing the piece really well. But, it’s very healthy to think that everything you are going to play is, on some way, challenging.
6. What do you think is the most important thing for you to emphasize in your teaching and in your own playing?
I’ve learned the most important thing with my first teacher: We came to this world/life first of all to be human beings. Not flutists, doctors, engineers, etc. If we manage to be good humans, with everything it means, we will be better professionals. A great American jazz drummer, Freddie Gruber, used to say: If a person is beautiful, nice eyes, beautiful voice, etc., BUT without breathing, this person is dead. So, I try all the time put this on the most strong way on my classes and playing. I try all the time to talk a lot, about life, the world, art. To build a better generation of artists who think about greater things than just playing the flute. I believe, strongly, that this is what makes the difference between a good artist and a “special” one. The good one impresses us for some minutes, hours after a concert, and then, ok, let’s have a pizza! The special one remains on our minds for ten, twenty, fifty years, sometimes not for technical perfection, but, because on the very first minute on stage, he/she touched us on a “human” way.
7. How did you become interested in conducting and what has your experience been with it?
Mostly, I was interested in Youth Orchestra Conducting. I always thought it would be a tool for extend the teaching of music, art. Everything I believe about it, I could tell not only for flutists. Of course as time passed, the thing became larger and I started to work with professionals. This is not always so easy. Major orchestras are not always “on the mood” to play different of the way they did for the last fifty years. That’s why I still prefer Youth Orchestras. It’s a blank page. Of course it helped me a lot on my playing in the orchestra. Made me more aware that I’m part of something really bigger, and I must know where I stand on this.
8. What are your interests/hobbies outside of music?
I love computer games, especially something called MMORPG. Mostly because the art work involved on the creation of this games. They create a whole world, sound tracks, on a surreal way. Unfortunately my soccer is terrible, but I love to play it on the PS3. I’m always reading something also, all the time.
9. How did you come to choose Miyazawa as your flute of choice?
Actually, I was a little tired of the other brands, all fantastic ones, but always missing something. More specifically, I was having some trouble with my old flute in the orchestra, mostly because sound and color matching. Then, I’ve tried a friend’s silver Miyazawa and it impressed me about the balance, easiness and richness of colors. Besides that, it had much flexibility allowing me use it on solo repertoire, chamber music, and orchestra with no problem. That was what I was looking for. Tried to get mine, what was extremely easy and fast. Today, I’m very satisfied with my 14k.
10. If you had one piece of advice to give for an upcoming flutist, what would you tell them?
There is a long way ahead of you. But it is a beautiful way, so, it worth. This way will demand a lot from you. You will have to give your full dedication, more than anything you’ve done so far. BUT, the reward will be the greatest you have got so far. Believe in your teacher, practice, read, listen. Be a flutist. No! More than that: Be an artist. No! More than that: Be a human. Then, it’s easy: Enjoy it. (and keep practicing!)
11. What is your concept of the “ideal sound” and is it different for orchestra vs. solo playing?
That’s hard. There are millions of ideal sounds. For me it must be warm and clean. Usually these two things don’t come together. Some “schools” use to call some buzzy sound as harmonics. They say we need that for projecting the sound. For me it’s just dirty. Anyway, I try to have as many different sounds as possible. I need material for exploring effects on different styles and moments in pieces. Besides that, there is an anatomical matter. You can pursue an ideal sound in your mind, but is it possible with your anatomical structure? Teeth, lips, face muscular structure. I think if you search for a particular sound, when this sound is not entirely “allowed” for all this characteristics, you lose a great opportunity of having a sound that is all yours. Unfortunately, I think, this is a matter of trying. After some decades teaching, if you ask a student to make the most beautiful sound he/she can imagine, you possibly are capable to know what will be the basis sound he/she will have for the entire life. No matter what sound he/she pursues, there will be always something of this sound there. That’s the fun. Of course, on a more practical subject, I also believe that a sound must be “useful”. I mean. It must allow you to use it on any kind of situation, like chamber music, solo, and orchestra, baroque, classical… For maybe, 30 years, I had a sound that I liked very much, but I could only play by myself. Now I know! It was possible for me to play with piano and maybe some kind of chamber music repertoire, especially not involving other woodwinds! Important to remember: Does your flute allow you to achieve the sound you are looking for? This is very evident when we change our flute or headjoint for a new one. For months or sometimes years, we keep looking for the sound of the old one. It keeps in mind. I changed that. A little late to be honest. If you have a good natural sound, flexible, clean, it will be much easier to work on the orchestra. Finally, I see no problem if you just listen and like somebody’s sound and try to copy it. The problem for me is if you are playing for 40 or 50 years and you are still copying. Anyway, that’s the fun.