Q: How did you realize you wanted to be a musician?
A: One day, it dawned on me that I wanted to become a pianist. That day, I made an official declaration to my mom and my grandparents about my decision… I was 9 or 10 years old then. They were a little shocked and definitely not pleased, since they didn’t want me to follow the footsteps of my forgotten dad.
My mother’s family had buried my dad in the past, since my parents got divorced soon after I was born. My dad was first flutist at the San Francisco Opera, the only musician in my immediate family. By deciding to become a musician that day, I revived in them a fear they had long forgotten.
Q: What got you interested in becoming an accompanist for dance / ballet classes?
A: It happened about 3 and a half years ago, when I had a miserable office job that I had to quit. I didn’t know how to quit until I suddenly got an offer to play for 7 ballet classes a week. I took the offer and quit my job right away.
I believe that was a miracle from God. I am grateful to Him and all of the ballet teachers I work for giving me the privilege to make my living out of music today.
Q: Describe your favorite memory of accompanying a class. Where was it? Who was it for? Why was it so special?
A: It was at Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, about a month ago with Caroline Rocher. The teacher, Caroline, was always smiling and laughing with a joy I had never previously seen in any other ballet teacher; she irradiated so much beauty, happiness and positive energy to her students and me, that I truly felt joyful to be actually playing for a ballet class for the first time in my life. It was like being in paradise!
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
A: Having to guess the tempo of a combination when the teacher does not mark it.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Having to improvise musical solutions on the spot and learning new things about ballet everyday, while having a chance to monitor my technique during each class.
Q: Describe your typical work week
A: Playing for about 14 ballet classes per week
Q: What types of pieces do you play in class?
A: Classical music style pieces and some popular tunes as well as my own compositions mostly in classical style.
Q: Which ones do you like and why?
A: I like playing original versions of musical pieces that match the combination given by the teacher.
Q: Which ones do you dislike and why?
A: I dislike playing versions of musical pieces modified to fit the combinations, because when original compositions are modified to fit the combinations, they are basically being adulterated and destroyed.
Q: Who is your musical or life inspiration?
A: Composers that suffered from some sort of disability, such as partial blindness, like Johann Sebastian Bach, total blindness, like Joaquín Rodrigo, or those who have suffered the loss of a limb, such as Maurice Ravel.
I am going through a trial right now, as I am suffering from a potentially serious eye disease that my specialists have been unable to identify. Fearing the eventual loss of my sight, I get my inspiration from the great musicians that were actually disabled.
Q: Is there any advice or etiquette recommendations you would give to young dancers while participating in class with an accompanist?
A: If you think the tempo of the music or the musical selection itself doesn’t help you dance, address the instructor, not the accompanist. Also, keep in mind the accompanist’s job is not being your DJ!
Q: In your opinion, what is the best piece of music you’ve ever heard?
A: I’ve been thinking several days about the answer to this difficult question! The best piece of music I have ever heard PROBABLY is Johann S. Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor for pipe organ.
Q: Have you ever had the privilege of playing it?
A: I’ve been practicing it these days.