Javier “Peke” Rodriguez, composer

Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?

In my music career there were many inspirations. Probably the first one was my mother, as she was the one who took me to a music Conservatory for the first time. But in the end, it is a strong intuition of what your true way in life is, a love and passion for the music the one that has inspired me the most. As in most of the compositions in the Baroque, there is an inner note that must be audible, an inner voice that must be heard, whether in a Fugue or in a Sonata. When you are composing a piece, there is something inside yourself that inspires you and want to be audible.

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

Normally the musicians owe a lot of respect and influence to their teachers. In my case, being very close to one of the most influential and internationally-known pianists of his generation, Rafael Orozco, was a kind of blessing. He inspired me to explore new textures and, over all, to be curious, not only in music but in life.

I was fascinated by the contemporary composers from all around the world (Leo Brower, Charles Ives, Pierre Boulez…) but also from the so-called “ethnic music”, probably a lot more classical than our “classical music”: Indian ragas, Turkish Makan, Japanese sakuhashi music – a kind of dodecaphonic modal music, created and performed hundreds of years before the twelve-tone technique was even known in Europe.

What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?

My main frustration is not playing the ‘cello. I have always been in love with this instrument and never had enough time to learn.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

The challenge on a commissioned piece is always the deadline. You normally work under the pressure of having a date in the calendar when everything has to be ready. There are many contradictions in working under pressure: on one hand, it provokes your creativity to be alert, to catch the moment, to have discipline and write the musical ideas as soon as they appear. In many ways, you have no other option than to be very present and work against the clock. But on the other hand, when the soundtrack or the ballet has been completed, it gives you a sensation of relief, a great satisfaction to complete the work on time, even if it means a lot of stress during the last days of completion.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?

For me, music is an universal language and it is all about communication. Everybody can understand the feelings manifested through the language of sounds. The general role of the musician is to be the link between the creation and the listeners. That’s why the challenge is to be able to understand the inner sound of the musical score, the intention behind the surface, channelled these elements and sharing them with the others musician, creating something even bigger than the original.

Of which works are you most proud?

I am always very proud of what will be done. What is done, is done, as Shakespeare says, and I am always thinking about the next one, which is a step forward on an unknown route.

How would you characterise your compositional language?

An eclectic combination in which the classical minimalism, Flamenco music, Indian tradition, and South American roots combine.

How do you work?

I always make a schedule to organise rehearsals, time for composition, concerts and time for recording in the home studio. I try to be disciplined and be very precise following this “route”

Who are your favourite musicians/composers?

There are many… plenty…! And it depends also on the day, the year, the season… It would be impossible to name just a few.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

If music is communication, as it is for me, being successful is being able to communicate with the audience.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

The most important one is not to be restrained to the obvious. Exploring and being curious are key principles for any musician. It implies, for sure, having a great knowledge of different musics and musical traditions as well as breaking conventions.

Handmade, a sensorial wine-tasting with Javier Rodriguez and Silvia Pampaloni is at 7pm on Friday 21 June at Quebec Wharf, Kingsland Road, London E8. Further information and tickets


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