I had the opportunity to connect with Greek guitar virtuoso Eva Fampas via myspace. She agreed to an interview! Eva is a wealth information and has a ton of experience
Classical Guitar Blog: Tell us about how you got into music and guitar. Why classical guitar?
Eva Fampas: The fact that I was born in a musical family helped a lot. My famous father, the great Greek guitarist, professor and composer Dimitris Fampas persuaded almost everybody in the family to play the guitar. My mother played although not professionally, my brother performed on TV when he was 9 years old and then it was me. It was not so easy for me as I have to admit that I preferred playing with my friends and not playing the guitar. But it came to me one day–the idea and the passion which has never stopped. So you can understand that for me music was the same with guitar, there was no question about that. Why classical guitar? The question was created in my mind later when I was studying in the National Conservatory of Athens and I was wondering if I could express all my thoughts musical ideas and feelings with my guitar. And even when I was studying Orchestra Conducting the guitar was the main protagonist of my mind. Yes the Guitar is a wonderful, very rich and very modern instrument!
CGB: Can you tell us a bit about music education in Greece?
Eva Fampas: This is a difficult question. And it is very complicated if I am going to answer what exactly happens in Greece. So in a few words, there is great talent in Greece among players, soloists and professors, BUT …. There is no public musical education, students in schools learn only to sing some songs and there are only a few musical schools where they try to keep the interest alive. Then in the Universities there are only departments of Musicology and only 1-2 for instrumental performance which usually works as another lesson for taking a degree and not officially to graduate for performance for instance. So if someone wants to learn to play an instrument there are only private small and bigger Conservatories where they pay a lot of money and I do not think that the education offered is equal to the “name” these Institutions have or to the money they take. As the majority of them do not have orchestras or concert halls or anything. And then there is a fashion with the Municipality Conservatories where people pay less but the situation is not better and it is worse for the professors as they do not get paid very often!
It is truth though that Greek guitarists are among the best players of the world and not only a few. And of course the Greek women guitarists stay very high!
CGB: You’ve recorded several CDs now, how do you go about choosing repertoire for your albums?
Eva Fampas: It is very important for me to love the music which I am going to record. I do like the idea to present the music of only one composer in a cd but I ‘ve done it only once with the CD “ EVA FAMPAS plays FAMPAS” (AULIA 2005) where I perform music by my father, for which I am very proud and I know the audience likes it very much as I play this music in my concerts. All other releases of mine are more like a recital program. It happens that I give concerts around the world so I meet a lot of wonderful people who dedicate their music to me and so I am so happy to play this music and of course to record it as well. So day by day I create new relationships and obligations with people, composers, musical pieces which “I have to” play (happily) and if possible to record.
My recent release “Eva Fampas – CAPRICCIO DIABOLICO” on BERBEN & IGS came as an inner need to thank my composer friends for the wonderful music they have written and includes some marvelous new works dedicated to me as well as some premiere recordings of very interesting pieces and my favourite piece by Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
The truth is that I love so many different styles of works that I have work for decades!
CGB: How do you go about developing an interpretation to perform or record? Is there a certain process you go through?
Eva Fampas: I need to learn the piece first, to feel the music and understand every small detail. Then of course I am working with technical things in order to be very clear what I want to say when I am playing the piece. I allow the music to calm inside me for sometime and I try to love all the musical ideas and to make them alive.
CGB: Do you think competitions are important for the up and coming guitarist? Why?
Eva Fampas: In my opinion depends from the personality of the player. Yes, in a way the competitions are very important, you play in front of an audience of managers, guitarists, musicians and guitar lovers, and especially if you win a very good publicity follows with some wonderful prizes and money. So if you are born to compete then competitions are better than simple concerts. But music is something different. In the competitions the participants have to perform a certain program which the majority of time is obligatory and this do not allow the soloist to express his own personality, to think to create to choose. He follows some steps in order to win. From the other hand a guitar soloist has to speak only to his heart and mind in order to choose the repertoire he wants to perform in his concert. And then the audience applauds the whole musical personality of the soloist, not a competitor but a music creator, a performer. Of course the problem here is that you don’t have a big publicity for a recital.
CGB: Do you do any judging at competitions? How does that work?
Eva Fampas: Yes I usually am member of the jury in competitions around the world. It does not work all the time. One problem is that after a competition I do not want to play or even hear once more the works the competitors played. And it is true that there are different opinions about technique, musicality etc. and very different guitar (or music) schools around. So the best way is to be democratic!
Count the votes and accept the result.
CGB: Any big plans or projects in the works? What on the agenda?
Eva Fampas: Big plans and new ideas are always in my mind. But I am afraid that some of them I will not be able to manage because of this world financial crisis. So I‘ll have to focus to the wonderful “small” ones. I do have concerts in Bulgaria and Greece as well as a big tour in Italy during spring 2009. I am preparing also the 3rd International Guitar Days of Lafkos in July, a guitar festival of which I am the Artistic Director and I‘m trying to finish the Dimitris Fampas Guitar Method, for which I ‘m doing the revision and fingering and preparing the edition. I do hope that this terrible crisis will not be for long as I have a series, the Eva Fampas Collection, for the Balkanota editions which I proposed but now they have stopped for a while.
And of course the preparations of a very interesting and wonderful Guitar Event which will take place in Athens during November 2009 in the Parnassos Concert Hall. A two day festival where all guitar soloists and ensembles will perform the World Premiere of 23 New Works for guitar dedicated to the memory of Dimitris Fampas. This event comes to complete the International Call for works which the Guitar Friends Association Dimitris Fampas (of which I am the Founder and President) organized through 2008. So we will present the works by some excellent composers from around the word who accepted this invitation and composed new material for this reason. This means that I have to practice new works, to organize the whole project and find sponsorship!
CGB Any tips for aspiring guitarists- technique, musicality, anything really?
Eva Fampas: Allow your heart to speak through the music. A fine technique is needed in order to make the composer’s notes come alive and create the musical ideas through our conception and feelings.
CGB: What’s life like on the road for a classical guitarist? How does touring really work?
Eva Fampas: If you like traveling and if to meet different cultures, new people and places is something you would like then nothing is better than to be a classical guitarist on tour! I personally like it very much. I‘ve been touring twice in India, for instance, and I‘ve been alone with my guitar in Nepal where I had two concerts. I toured in China during 2006! and I‘ve toured South America /America Latina twice–Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brasil, Mexico wonderful! New musical experiences! Different ways of thinking and living. And of course I ‘ve been lots of times in more than 25 countries of the world!
But of course there are problems, especially the financial ones … And you can be very very tired travelling all the time. And then if you accept to teach it is really difficult to follow this way of life. So recently I’ve been trying to give concerts in Europe as I can go and return and continue teaching.
Then of course if you have a family is more difficult. But anyway, Artists know how important it is to give concerts and communicate with different audiences. Do you know what other people say for us? That we live for the applause !!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is very important for an artist to know that so many people around the world like his artistry his performance his personality so touring comes as a result of a good or interesting musical profile. Who doesn’t want it?