Exclusive Interview

Pianists Fabiana & Paula Chávez

No Limits for Visually Impaired Musicians

Concert " Hearing Loss Mutuality of Argentina"

at " La usina del Arte" Theatre in Buenos Aires

Hosts : Fabiana & Paula Chávez : No Limits for Visually Impaired Musicians

Interviewer:   Emanuela Clari  

AUG. 19, 2017

Two Splendid Artists are changing  the  World  of Visually impaired Musicians and not only.
Their life and Uniqueness is extremely inspiring. TheMagazyne is honored to share with You in this Exclusive Interview Fabiana and Paula's story and their unbelievable achievements.

Int: Dear Fabiana and Paula it is a Privilege to have you both here from the beautiful Buenos Aires in Argentina. Let's share your life and courage with TheMagazyne's readers. You have been diagnosed , at the age of 13,  of the Stargardt's Disease, a rare recessive disorder of the retina that currently has no treatment. That hasn't stopped you at all !! But it gave you also the strength to help others. Let's start talking about your personal achievements and all the wonderful projects you have realized...

FABIANA: The achievements we have obtained at an artistic and professional level were probably unimaginable by our father, who made us the wonderful gift of a piano upon receiving the news that the visual illness that caused us by then low vision, had no cure. It was our father who, with his own hands, copied in large size the scores, since the conventional ones were too small for us to read. Thus began our musical career, first we obtained the title of national teachers of music and later the degree of graduates in musical arts at the UNA, Universidad Nacional de las Artes, (the National University of the Arts) in Buenos Aires. Both of these achievements gave us the possibility not only of perfecting us in the piano performance, but also allowed us to introduce ourselves in the education and musical research. Without a doubt, the biggest challenge we had to face was that we lost our vision almost completely. This situation led us to face our musical career in a totally different way than we had been working so far. When we can not read the written scores already, we find a computer program that, among other functionalities, verbalizes every element of a musical score as an audio description, that is to say, as if a person with normal vision dictates to us a musical work in high voice. On the other hand, we focused on the search for a pianist technique that is appropriate for our new visual condition, which no longer allowed us to see the keyboard. These changes led us to a greater professionalization of our piano career by offering concerts in important venues in Buenos Aires. In 2012 we set and carried out a new project called "Piano without Barriers". The primary objective of this project was to make known the technical and technological tools we both developed in order to continue our musical career after having lost our vision. For this purpose we offered talks, workshops and piano four hands recitals in various educational institutions and music therapy centers of our country and around the world.

Int: What is the "Language of Music" for you? And why have you chosen Classical Chamber Music?

PAULA:

We hold the theory that music is a universal language, since music is capable of transcending all boundaries. With the language of music we feel that we can transmit emotions, from the subtlest and deepest to the most energetic and extroverted, it also allows us to communicate in a direct way with all kinds of cultures regardless of their language, gender or age . We understand that music is capable of affecting the heart rate, brain waves and respiratory rhythm of the listeners, and we are witnesses of this, since through this universal language we evoked states of mind and feelings that our public claims to perceive in Our interpretations. Evidently the bond that exists for being identical twin sisters has strongly influenced our choice to approach classical piano four hands plays. The fact that we have developed together in our mother's womb, being born and raised together, has led us to have a much closer connection than other duos have. The physical similarity, that is to say, to possess identical hands facilitate the difficult task of the execution of the piano played by two pianists in a same keyboard. Equality in attacks, crosses of hands, raising the fingers at the same time when the hands of both pianists coincide in proximity, handling a different sound, are some of the biggest challenges facing this type of musical formations. All these difficulties are reduced when the hands of the members of the piano duos are physically similar. In our case, the fact of being twins gives us this great advantage. On the other hand, the power of complicity, the mental and emotional connection, and the power of teamwork, are qualities often experienced by the twins and that we try to exploit to the fullest.

 "... The achievements we have obtained at an artistic and professional level were probably unimaginable by our Father who made us the wonderful gift of a piano upon receiving the news that the visual illness that caused us by then low vision, had no cure. .."

Int: How come the stupendous and strong ability to memorize so perfectly hundreds of pieces? What is your method?

FABIANA:

As we all know, the musicians who play chamber music usually use the score in their live performances and very rarely can be found piano duos who execute the entire repertoire by heart. Our case was always very particular, even when we still had functional vision. It was necessary to approximate the magnified scores very close to our eyes to be able to read them. And that of course  obstructed the execution of the musical works. The memorization of all the music scores material had to be studied entirely by us. Now, having lost that remaining vision, and using a method of auditory reading, it is absolutely necessary to memorize the score. For the incorporation of a new repertoire we require, in our case, an arduous and detailed work. While navigating a new piece using the music player software, we listen carefully to the description of each musical symbol, while we imagine the graph of conventional musical notation. Mostly we divide the musical work into sections and we work them separately. The spatial memory helps us with memorizing passages that lead to the difficulty of the big jumps on the keyboard, raising the distance and incorporating them gradually. This type of memory is closely related to muscle memory, which allows us to play the works almost automatically, without thinking. Muscular memory can be compared to the action of walking, where a person does not think of each step that gives, but concentrates towards where it is directed. Finally, we believe that auditory memory plays a major role in terms of musical memorization, and here without a doubt, we unanimously agree with other music professionals. Beyond the techniques of memorizing musical works, we are aware that playing without having to be aware of the score provides the musicians with greater artistic freedom and greater flight in their performances. In other words, the memorization of musical works implies that each musician internalizes them, makes them their own, giving them a more personal and more attractive style for listeners.

Click & Listen  ...from their Album "Fabiana&Paula Chavez"

Mozart - Sonata for Piano Four-Hands in C major, K.521 Allegro

Concert at the Notable Café "36 Billares"

Buenos Aires - 8 July 2017

Notable Café "36 Billares" founded in 1894

Fabiana&Paula received the important

Award "Bares Notables"  (08 July 2017)

Int: You also found time to record 11 tracks in a splendid album, "Fabiana & Paula Chávez". ...when and how was the album conceived?

PAULA: The choice of the works of our disc was very exhaustive. In the first place, we resume two works that we had played before the loss of our functional vision. This allowed us to define exactly what the obstacles would be to solve, both reading and technical, compared to what we were working when we had a residual vision. On the other hand, we chose a totally new work for us, one of the most difficult of the piano repertoire with 4 hands, in order to test our new skills. Thus was born our first album, which was released on December 20, 2013 and was supported by the Metropolitan Fund of Culture, Arts and Sciences of the city of Buenos Aires, and its presentation took place in the main hall of "La Usina del Arte". The album consists of 11 tracks. The first three correspond to the three movements of the virtuoso sonata K. 521 for four-hands by the prodigious Wolfang Amadeus Mozart, the five numbers of the suite "Ma Mére l'Oye" by the eclectic Maurice Ravel and finally the three movements of the Famous piano sonata by the French composer Francis Poulenc.

Int: I always dreamt about the marvellous Buenos Aires, the city where you were born. Can you tell us more about the Unique institution of "Les cafes".

FABIANA: Obviously it can not be denied that Buenos Aires is a city of bars. From the time of the Spanish colony, in the center of the city, different cafeterias and bars were opened, which with the passing of time became its emblematic symbols. These bars, on the initiative of the city were called "Bares Notables", that stands for "Notable Bars"; and many of them belong to the historical patrimony of the city, and by their tables passed great personalities of the Buenos Aires's culture. Last year we had the great honor of being selected in the X "Notable Bars" competition organized by the Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Cafes, Bars, Billiards and Notable Confectioneries of the City of Buenos Aires (CBN), and to participate at the Cultural Program of 2017. Thanks to this, we had the great fortune this year in July to perform two very successful piano four hands recitals on the stage of the Cafe "The 36 Billiards". This historic bar of Buenos Aires was inaugurated in 1882 and at that time, established  the fashion of billiards and it had 36 tables for that game. In 1894 it was installed in its present location, and it has 9 pool tables, and 6 of them and a snooker table are approximately 100 years old!! For us, the experience of having shared our musical art with the audience of a bar as significant for the history of our city as the bar "The 36 Billiards" is ...will undoubtedly endure forever in our memory.

Click & Listen  ...from their Album "Fabiana&Paula Chavez"

Ravel - Ma Mère l'Oye , Laideronnette Impératrice des pagodes

At the "Usina del Arte", Buenos Aires.

Int: Your life is extremely inspiring. What about  your future projects?

PAULA: Certainly while advancing on our path of personal and professional improvement, new challenges are presented and therefore new questions. One of the most immediate projects would be to extend our repertoire by covering works for 2 pianos as well as piano works with 4 hands. Although this can be simple to perform when it comes to pianists with normal vision who access the printed score, and the communication between both instrumentalists is established through the visual path, for us it will mean a difficult task where new skills will be put into play related to the ensemble between two pianists who no longer have the visual resource to approach that repertoire. Another idea that comes to mind is the need for a team work to optimize the development of computer tools in order to facilitate the access of computer programs linked to music. In this sense, we find interesting the possibility of integrating projects that contemplate the creation of applications for the writing and reading of scores in accessible formats.

 "... We find interesting the possibility of integrating

   projects that contemplate the creation of applications

for the writing and reading of score in accessible formats. .."

Int: What are the barriers for visually impaired people that our society has not knocked down yet and you hope to overcome soon?

FABIANA: In this sense, we believe that the barriers faced by people with visual impairment today are much more than mere physical obstacles. There are factors in the daily environment that negatively impact the performance of people with visual impairment: Physical environments that are not accessible, poor development in the technology sytstems, negative attitudes of society towards blind people, services and policies that do not involve the participation of people with visual ailments. In the field of academic music as well as in musical educational institutions, there is still a long way to go in terms of the barriers that arise when approaching the formal study of music by people with visual disabilities, especially for those musicians with acquired blindness, or in other words, musicians who for some reason have lost their functional vision and are no longer able to access the conventional musical script to which they were accustomed. According to the research that we have been doing in this field, we have evidenced a large number of pianists who, because of sudden vision loss, have had to abandon their piano practice due to lack of keyboard vision, while in other cases, they have turned to the study of other musical instruments that do not involve at all the sense of sight for its execution. Nevertheless, we are fully convinced that the advancement of new technologies will bring to the collective of people with visual impairment increasing benefits, making it possible to reduce the negative effects of disability in all aspects of life.

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Click & Listen  ...from their Album

Poulenc - Sonata for piano Four-Hands Prelude

Concert and Talk - At the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in LONDON.

Concert  - Valta Thorsen Foundation in BUENOS AIRES.

Thank you very much! Fabiana, and Many Thanks Paula What a beautiful gift! There are no limits for two Brave Women like you. TheMagazyne's best wishes and always ready to spread your music and good news for a better world. Thank you. Stay updated with Fabiana & Paula.

NO LIMITS for Fabiana & Paula Chávez

Thanks to all readers

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