Sometimes it happens to meet artists who invite them as a gift to be put at the service of others. Music is one of those privileged channels that has the power to bring different people and cultures together, and Pablo Sainz Villegas seems to have understood his artistic career as an authentic mission. Considered the heir to Andrés Segovia, today he is one of the most trusted and acclaimed classical guitar interpreters in the world.
We meet him on the occasion of his Romanian debut at the Istituzione Universitaria dei Concerti della Sapienza.
Tell us about The legacy of music without bordersthe foundation you created in 2006. What is its function, and what are the goals for the future?
It all started when I was seven years old and experienced for the first time what it was like to be on stage. My mother had an unusual idea, to show me in nursing homes. I fell in love with the experience and have wanted to play for others ever since. Not only was I living my dream but I was also seeing people smile which made me realize the power of music to make people happy. It’s part of my DNA and my goal as a musician, to inspire, to create a space of mutual understanding, a common ground where people come together. In San Diego, in 2006, this establishment started with the idea of toys for kids, and started doing just that. So far I have presented more than forty-eight thousand of them, in Mexico and California, perfectly connecting two regions less than fifty kilometers apart. The foundation’s goal is to bring together and inspire people, to believe in dreams, and to promote the values of tolerance and multiculturalism through the determination and passion that I put into my work. Music is the soundtrack to these initiatives, through which we also invite preachers from various musical circles who share with us through their music the celebration of humanity. For the future, our goals are to continue, of course, and to bring music into schools as a series of values and an educational tool. We are currently funding a non-profit organization in the United States to develop programs of study in these areas. We will create a music festival in Sonoma as we have already done in La Rioja, my district, with the aim of making music known to young children.
A moment before and a moment after your performance, you experience moments of intense silence and remembrance that seem so different, even to an outside observer. My personal impression is that you “lose” yourself before a performance, only to find yourself again, and in the end how to internalize what you experienced. Would you like to share with us some of your thoughts and feelings in those moments?
What you say is interesting, I was never particularly aware of the process you describe, but it makes sense: for me, music is the creation of space, it exists in that space full of silence, where music lives, develops and expresses itself. He stands there and invites the audience, the people, to participate. Before I start playing I feel this space.
Music is based on time and linear time; However, there is a very interesting, almost alchemical process by which time travels and disappears within space. It is metaphysical, giving a glimmer of immortality. It’s a somewhat philosophical concept, but that’s my intention, to create a space where everyone can come together at the same time. When I play, it seems to me that music takes on a dimension, like architecture I imagine all forms at the same time: it is like seeing a painting as a whole. And the moment when I finish playing is sacred to me, because we, in a sense, have filled that space with music and with the awareness and testimony of those present. It’s really powerful. By the time the song is over, we’ve experienced this journey, and finally we can meet and “feel” each other. They are definitely two very different moments, sacred and almost divine.
in Orchestra rehearsal Federico Fellini humanized the machines, giving them a personality, even male and female. What is the character of the guitar?
I love Fellini and the Italian cinema of those years, and I believe that every machine has its own personality. The simplest classification of humanity is the dichotomy of masculine and feminine. I think my guitar is female, it’s the nature of my instrument, but at the same time I think there are male guitars. Having said that, the guitar is an extension of me, my mind, my body, and my feelings. We become one, it is a mirror and expression of my personality through music. Sometimes they ask me if my guitar has a name, the answer is no, and to give it a name means to separate it from me. If you feel a certain way, the guitar will amplify that emotion, and if it changes, it will reflect it. It has no soul per se, I know that sounds weird, and it would be more romantic to say it does, but ultimately it is an extension of me.
An element of dictatorships is the ban on music, which is considered semi-“misguided”. Why do you think? What is the power and significance of this particular art form?
Music is naturally very powerful, it is part of those experiences that we cannot touch, but we can feel. It has a huge impact on the masses, just think of a concert, of any kind, where the most diverse emotions are stimulated in the crowd. However, even tyrants love music, some of the most famous classical musicians, and it’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t absolutely love it, no matter the genre. May the music touch the hearts of those in power, change their actions, and alter the course of history.
What is your relationship to Italy and our musical traditions?
The guitar has a wonderful history in Italy, Mauro Giuliani and Giulio Rigondi are very important composers, and they influenced my training as a musician. I love Italy for its classical art and music, Venice and the Gabriele Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina brothers, and I adore the Renaissance and its music, including the religious music it produced. I love to sculpt and paint, there is very inspiring art in every corner of Italy. And I love Rome because just walking around or entering its churches presents surprises. Art is timeless, which is why I think they call Rome the “eternal city,” and to me it humanizes society and the experience we have in life. Technology makes a very important contribution, but I think the more technology we have, the more essential art will be, because technology is an experience of the mind, while art is an experience of the heart. Balance must be found, and the universe always succeeds. The more we focus on rationality, the greater the value, wisdom and beauty of art, which inspires me and fills my heart.
Some of our mutual friends from New York called you an athlete, is that true? What are your passions and interests, besides music?
I love life, sports, soccer, salsa dancing but also poetry, nature, silence and meditation. I like everything that is authentic to me and that I can share with friends, like drinking a glass of wine with friends. For me, it is important to nourish my spiritual part, it brings me peace and wisdom. I love people and life, which is a gift, sometimes it puts us to the test, but this is part of it, leading us to learn and grow. For me, that means enjoying the good times, but also fully experiencing the hard times.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”