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In Exclusive Interview with Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: Cano Smit

SILICON VALLEY, CA-   On a phone interview to Chicago, Cultural World Bilingual interviewed Spanish/Dutch pianist  Albert Cano Smit  prior to his February 11  Live & Livestream concert in San José, California, as part of the Steinway Society the Bay Area  28th Concert  Series, which will be held at  the historic Hoover Theatre, in the city.

 As a pianist, Cano Smit, is well known  by the Silicon Valley press, that was impressed that on the night of  his debut solo recital in San José on December,  2019, (His coming concert will be  his third  solo local concert) the young pianist received  3 Encores from the audience.

Cano Smit is the First Prize winner in the 2019 Young Concert Artists Susan Wadsworth International Auditions, and one of the few, who presented by the Naumburg Foundation, made his debut in Carnegie Hall, in New York. As a solo concert pianist, Cano Smit has now a growing reputation around the world, and an international career on the orchestral, recital and chamber music stages, where he has distinguished himself by his unique interpretation of his music. Because of it, he has been praised as a "moving young poet" and a "great romantic" by Christopher Huss in Le Devoir, the French language Newspaper published in Montreal. 

Cultural World Bilingual could describe Albert Cano Smit, as a musician who uses sounds to convey thoughts. Who possess the technique required from a concert pianist, but does not play his music on the piano. First, he interprets it in his heart, and then, at the keyboard, his fingers let it sound.

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Since the last time he gave a concert in San José in person (before the Pandemic) Cano Smit has been studying in New York, where, recently, he completed an Artist Diploma with Robert McDonald at the Juilliard School where he was awarded the 2020 Rubinstein Prize for Piano. He has also continued mastering his technique, in spite of an accident, where he broke his thumb, now healed, that forced him to stop playing the piano for half a year.

Talking about how he managed to cope with those months of rehabilitation he tell us:
A.C.S. " I had to make an effort to continue develop my piano technique again, so, I was working with my teacher, and to distract me, reading books about several subjects: about piano, novels to entice me, interviews about Spanish music, and  even reading 19th Century authors, and surprisingly, discovering new elements and connections to 19th Century music through that.  I learned a lot during my recovery and also concluded that I still have so much to learn."

C.W.B: We all do.

A.C.S.: "Some of the things I learnt may even improve my role as a pianist.

C.W.B. What was it?

C.W.B.: "That a  pianist has to work hard analyzing the clues the composer left in the score, and may for example compare a "musical theme" to a character in a play and "interpret it" at the keys of the piano each time when it repeats. I also learned that in a live performance, you really have to know what you are doing to be able to convey it to your audience.  I also learned that there is the composer, and that as the pianist you are the messenger conveying something, so when you are playing, you are really "addressing" the music to someone.  So, when you are "taking" with them (playing the music) you really have to know exactly what you are doing. The audience, in part destroyed by the pandemic, is a very important element in the relationship between the composer, the pianist and the performance.  Perhaps that is the most important thing that I learned."

C.W.B: Interesting.  Changing the subject, you started giving concerts when you were very young.  Do you approach your concerts programs differently, now?

A.C.S: "Yes. (As a concert pianist) I still consider myself an amateur, but I always wanted to play piano for an audience, because I love music, so, I decided that I was going to do it professionally.  After that, you begin learning. When I was younger, because I hated to practice, I just followed my instincts, and then played whatever came out. But as I grew up, and began to know more about music, by studying it with very wise professors, I noticed that the more I learned about music and continue learning it, my music got better and better. But... one must remember that the more one learns, the more one realizes how little he knows." 

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C.W.B. When learning a new piece.  Would you suggest that the pianist should first study the composer's life to better acquaint himself or herself with the music?

A.C.S.: "I think it is always wise, to know enough about the life of the composer, but, experience had taught me that it may not always help. We need to remember that it was when Mozart was experiencing the darkest moments in his life, that he composed his most joyful music. But I think that knowing the relationship between the composer's life and his music is always good when interpreting their compositions. However, when we do, we must also remember the time. Remember when was the music composed, for what instrument was composed, and keep in mind that those instruments sounded differently. And talking about sounds, even the sounds; we may also remember that the sounds that these composers heard on the streets at their time were also different, from the sounds we hear in the streets now.

Talking about my next concert in San José, where I will be playing Mozart, I would, for example, mention that from all of his piano sonatas, Mozart wrote only two, in the minor key. (Considered in music composition the mournful key associated with grief) and that one of them is the C minor Sonata that you are going to hear in my concert. The other one, in a minor key, he wrote it after his mother died. So, knowing this, when I play it, I have to be sure that my listeners detect a different scope, and that my interpretation projects the proper feeling. That's an example of why it is helpful for a pianist to read about the life of the composers. "

C.W.B. Do you interpret the music that you play now; differently than you played when you first started giving concerts?

A.C.S:  Yes. Looking back, I realize that when I started, sometimes I did not know what I was doing. I don't remember who say this, it may have been Schnabel, who said  that "Playing Mozart Sonatas is too easy for children and too hard for adults" This could be interpreted in different ways, but I like how it conveys that there are some advantages to the way a child sees the world and the  music. (Sees it with the eyes of a child).  We also need to remember that each mistake is a teacher, who little by little, teaches us something new. So, as we continue playing, and correcting our mistakes, our music gets better. Through my life, I have learned that perhaps some of my best teachers have been my mistakes."

C.W.B. Talking about your San José concert, next week, what are you going to bring us that you consider Unique? 

A.C.S. " It is hard for me to judge myself  because the way I perceive myself is different than the way that other perceive me, but I hope to bring all my hard work in the music and share this with the audience. Play my best and convey to them my feelings for this music and be the best messenger for this music.

C.W.B. I will end our interview by mentioning that Cano Smit concert, which includes: Brahms -6 Klaviertüke Op 118, Mozart Piano Sonata in C minor K 457, Albéniz Iberia Book I, Mssiaen Vingt Regard sur L'enfant Jesus and Alberto Ginastera Danzas Argentinas Op 2, In its scope, is unique. And that when Albert Cano Smit interprets it in the wondrous sound of his Steinway Piano, the audience will not only hear the music...but feel it.

For more information and to Order tickets for the Live and Livestream concert go to: For any questions about the concert, contact their box office at (408) 300-5635.