BD: How would you describe your music to somebody who hasn’t heard it before?
OP: I think that my music is a compilation of experiences and a fusion of musical styles accumulated since the beginning of my career, the way I write and play shows who I am. It is my vision of musical styles but always through my violin without leaving my Afro-Cuban roots behind. Cuba is my home country.
BD: You’ve performed with so many acclaimed musicians throughout your career, including Kirsty MacColl, Jools Holland and Courtney Pine. Has this influenced your music, or the way you perform with your band?
OP: Definitely, having shared the stage and having worked with so many talented musicians has contributed to my way of seeing music. Each musician has their own style and approach to performing that I have managed to absorb which has fed me musically. As I always say, I compare music with life. which is a constant learning process, and once again I thank these and other musicians who I have huge respect for having allowed me to share their artistic lives with.
BD: How different is it performing as a soloist compared to performing in a sextet?
OP: Each combination has its positives whether playing as a soloist, duo, trio, quartet sextet, chamber music to symphony orchestras.
Each combination as you have mentioned, you have to see it from different points of view, of course, if you play as a duo, there is generally no space to rest, but still you can enjoy the music in the same way. I am happy playing in whatever format but my sextet is where my music comes to life! All the current members of my sextet are band leaders in their own right – and we have all missed the joy of playing together during COVID. Thus this concert at Turner Sims will be very special!
BD: What music have you been listening to over lockdown?
OP: The lockdown has given me time to read more, compose, write music for a new album based on John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’, also listening to different styles of music that I might not have spent time doing.
For example Ed Sheeran to Reggaeton, without stopping of course to listen to Cuban music from new young groups to Jazz and Latin Jazz classics – Chucho Valdez, Eddie Palmieri, Papo Lucca Ruben Gonzales Ruben Blades Orquesta Aragon.
BD: Your music has influences from all over the world – when travel restrictions are lifted, where are you most looking forward to going to?
OP: I have been lucky to travel the world with my violin, and each place has a special place in my heart. Some countries that I have played and would like to go back are Japan, Brazil, France, West Africa, Colombia and the USA.
Other than these South Africa, Canada and Australia are on my ‘bucket list’.
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