As the audience arrived to Christiansen Hall last Thursday evening, Sept. 17, the soft, peaceful sound of a violin floated from the orchestra hall to greet them. Pedro de Alcantara, an Artist in Residence, instruct- ed a student playing on the violin as a part of his master class.
De Alcantara visited St. Olaf from Paris, France, his current home. He attended State University of New York at Purchase, focusing on cello playing, before entering Yale School of Music to earn his master’s degree. De Alcantara received additional training in London before settling in Paris. Today, de Alcantara makes his career as a teacher, coach, writer and performer. He aims to help clients and audiences improve not only their music, but also their lives and health.
“Life is full of choices,” de Alcantara said. With that, he kicked off his class and transitioned into discussing the com- plex aspects of choosing movements and poses when we play an instrument. He also explained the importance of constant movement awareness to musicians.
Much of de Alcantara’s work centers around the Alexander Technique, which is a method designed to help people relax, relieve stress, move in a more natural way and feel more comfortable in their bod- ies. He applies this to playing different instruments and has instructed musicians ranging from cellists in top orchestras to concert pianists to singers and guitarists. The universal relevance of his work allows de Alcantara to teach a great variety of stu- dents all over the world.
The St. Olaf violinist that de Alcantara guided displayed great skill and focus dur- ing the class. The beautiful music enter- tained and soothed the audience, making for an enjoyable class. De Alcantara also worked with an a capella singer as well as a few pianists.
During their performances, de Alcantara
made adjustments to the rhythm, tune and posture of the students. He focused on the whole body and the importance of mindful music performing while using simple lan- guage that was easy for all to understand, regardless of music knowledge or experi- ence.
Overall, de Alcantara’s master class pro- vided an excellent opportunity for audi- ences to learn something new in a calming setting. Sophia Wang ’19 said, “I really enjoyed the masterclass. I like going to [master classes] better than concerts most times. De Alcantara helped students forget the nerves that come with performing in front of people. This is really difficult to do! When the difference in sound is as startling as it was after de Alcantara spoke with the players you know he is a good teacher.”