Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
I was naturally drawn to music from a really young age. When I was four years old, I was going to my brother’s violin lessons and I desperately wanted to play too. After trying the violin, I also started piano, and by the time I was six, my parents bought me my first piano. After that, a few figures in my life have been essential for me to pursue a career in music. These were my first violin teacher, Juanjo Jarreño, and my piano teachers from Mallorca and Madrid, Maria Tomás and Iván Cítera.
After studying a degree in piano performance, I became interested in the psychology behind performance, which took me to London and the Royal College of Music to study an MSc in Performance Science and an MPerf in Piano Performance. It was through RCM that I got in touch with Howard Dawson and Steve Plews for John Michael Franklin’s project in October 2021, which was when we recorded Imaginem.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
The most difficult thing for me has been managing feelings of pressure of performance, which involve performance anxiety and doubts about one’s performance abilities, self-esteem issues and identity changes in relation to music.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
I have recorded an album called “Albor” with my band Alanaire, in which I sing and play the piano. Also, another album called “Músiques d’Elles” in which I perform, alongside a flautist, classical pieces by women composers, and then of course Imaginem, the album in which I interpret John Michael’s music.
Imaginem was, in a sense, quite free and exploratory, as some manuscripts did not include tempo or dynamic markings. I had to really think about how I wanted to express the music by listening to John Michael’s story, snippets of his playing and creative back-and-forth with Howard and Steve.
Which particular works/composers do you think you perform best?
I truly enjoy performing Chopin and Debussy. I think my personality suits impressionist music.
From this album Imaginem I really enjoyed Serenitas, due to the powerful emotions that John Michael has managed to capture within the simplicity of the piece and its repeated motifs.
What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?
Sports. Running has been one of my favourite activities that has made me learn a lot about myself. Running teaches you to have patience, to be out of your comfort zone, to grow, and to learn that you can tackle any challenge that’s in front of you, no matter the difficulty.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
It depends. With Músiques d’Elles it’s been a challenge, since the repertoire is limited for flute, cello and piano. So due to this, we need to adapt to what’s available.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
The concert hall from my conservatoire in Mallorca is a venue with a magnificent piano where I have had memorable experiences playing concerts. I just have really good memories from it.
What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences?
I think getting out of the mindset that classical music is serious should be played in important venues. During my time in London, I was collaborating with Sofar Sounds, as we brought classical music to their concerts, bringing classical music closer to young people.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Playing with an orchestra as a soloist when I was 14 years old. We played a Mozart concerto, No. 23, which I recommend listening to. I remember that all my friends were in the orchestra, and I remember being in a flow with them during the whole concert.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Being a flexible musician and being open minded to collaborate, learn, grow, and participate in musical projects that bring you joy.
What advice would you give to young/aspiring musicians?
Focus on communicating emotions through music, rather than getting stuck in technical issues from playing their instruments. In the end, our goal is to get to the audience’s heart, to influence them in a positive and emotional way.
What’s the one thing in the music industry we’re not talking about which you think we should be?
How difficult it is to be your own manager. As musicians we need to be good at self-promotion, communication skills, and social media. and this is not taught during our music careers, and we end up learning the hard way.
What’s next? Where would you like to be in 10 years?
I am not sure. I think I don’t have such a long term vision as I’m open to experiences and curious about where they will take me.
Laura Serra’s album Imaginem is available now
Spanish pianist Laura Serra is a solo and collaborative pianist, composer and songwriter. Her collaborative projects include the growing Spanish all-female ensemble Musiques d’Elles with with Mercè Medina and Paula Martos, dedicated to highlighting women composers, as well as indie-pop band Alanaire, with whom she has played international festivals such as Primavera Sound, Focus Wales, Vida, Mallorca Live and Cranc.
In November 2022, Serra made her solo recording debut with Imaginem, with music by British composer John Michael Franklin, now available on all streaming platforms here.