In an interview with Reflexo, the young saxophonist recalls the role of the Fernando Matos Academy of Music and Workshop Music School – currently Palco 21 – in her growth. Before the saxophone which is now improving in the UK, there were the drums and the guitar. In the middle, there is always the Banda Musical de Caldas das Taipas, a “big family”.
The saxophone was not your first instrument. Do you remember your musical discovery?
My parents influenced me to listen to music, and they influenced me and my sister in the arts. I think I’ve always had this pet. And they say, when I was little, I’d open up the kitchen cupboards, take the pots, and start making tunes. When the course started I wanted to play the drums. I told my parents and they gave me one of those electric ones. I joined Workshop, a music school in Passerelle which is now Palco 21, and started learning with Pedro Gonçalves. My mother really liked the guitar, she wanted me to learn it and a year later I joined the workshop I started. Soon, I went to Banda Musical de Caldas das Taipas, and they were starting the academy project, and I started learning saxophone.
how old were you?
I started at 13 learning the saxophone.
I understand your mother encouraged you. Is it related to the region or is it related to taste?
For taste, yes. My mother has nothing to do with music, but she wants me to learn a stringed instrument or a wind instrument. And I have always loved the saxophone.
for a specific reason? The saxophone is closely related to jazz and crosses in different musical genres.
I think it was a bit too jazzy and the fact that there are a lot of songs that have great saxophone solos. Big popular songs and big bands like Dire Straits and Supertramp. My dad had Supertramp records and he really liked listening to solos.
He took the opportunity to return to the Academy, closely associated with Banda Musical de Caldas das Taipas. When do you start in the band?
I joined in 2017.
And what kind of learning do you gain? You have your classic background, but then, in the band, I suppose there’s something else: a sense of community. What did the band give you?
I really love Panda das Taipas. I’m still a part of it and love to play there. Mainly because of the feeling of bonding: it feels like we’re one big family. It was the people in the band who encouraged me the most to follow this path in music. That was important because of that, because I felt like making music was making music with them – and that was all the better. Making music with the people I care about makes me want to make people proud, want to study more and be better.
Even though you are now in Manchester, do you still have a chance to play for Banda das Taipas?
Yes, at Christmas I managed to revive the concert in Guimarães. Now in April I came for Easter and managed to make a parade. Now these upcoming trips, which have resumed due to COVID-19, I won’t be able to do that but when I come back in the summer I always like to go play with the band whenever I can. I know I am always most welcome.
How was the process of entering the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). Was it your goal?
In the tenth year, I applied to the Conservatory [Calouste Gulbenkian] And on the twelfth day, as the saxophone ensemble at the Conservatory, we went to Porto to meet. The teacher who teaches here at RNCM watched us play and invited us to play in Manchester. We came in 2018. I loved the city and the university and I had the idea to come here to study. Then I finished getting my degree at Minho University because I thought I was still too young to leave the country, I needed to mature. At the end of my degree in music at Minho University, I applied, it was for recordings, then I did an interview and got.
How was your day?
capacitor. Because I always have to set hours for my daily study, I always have classes and projects and there’s always a lot going on
in the University. And it gets to the point where I want to be involved so much in everything that I sometimes need to stop to catch my breath. But it was amazing, it’s really what I wanted and dreamed of forever. I feel really lucky to be here.
Is the teaching very different when compared to Portugal?
It is very much a process. This was pretty much what I wanted. I really enjoyed studying in Portugal, it was very good, I learned a lot, but what I noticed was that there was not a lot of opportunity. I was feeling frustrated about it. And it was one of the things that made me think about getting out of the country.
Are you the only Portuguese in the RNCM?
We are ten this year. On the saxophone I’m the only one. The rest of the cast is violin, cello, double bass, and bassoon.
You were also the only Portuguese named to be a finalist in a competition in which the Prince of Wales troupe participated. Can you condense a little bit about that?
That was a competition in which the final, now in May, was to be played with the Prince of Wales’ squad. I had to submit a running video and since there was no cost to record, I decided to submit the video. I have been chosen.
Is there anything planned in the future?
I have another year at RNCM. Now, here, I have a project in mind.