Music has no borders for violinist Pedro Maia. At the age of 15, he made his debut with the ArtBrasilia Symphony Orchestra and currently performs with the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. Maia will perform at TSO’s concert at the Celebrate America event in the city of Tallahassee on July 4th.
This free community event begins at 7:00 pm and ends with fireworks and TSO’s interpretation of “l’Ouverture 1812” in the grand finale. As the concert celebrates America’s independence, it also echoes Maia’s belief that no matter what country or continent, music has the power to bring people together.
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“Music is an international language,” says Maia. “People are more willing to know you as a person and to know your culture because they are interested in your music. ”
Maia is pursuing her doctorate in violin performance at Florida State University and has founded two chamber groups, including the Cosmos New Music ensemble. He feels connected to his friends and fellow players from both chamber groups, many of whom are international students and colleagues from all over the world.
From Brazil to Mississippi
Maia began her musical journey at an early age, and at the insistence of her parents. He slowly came to practice the violin alone and fell in love with the instrument as a teenager. Maia got a full scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi, and it was during his undergraduate studies that he met Dr. Shannon Thomas who would become her mentor at FSU.
“The teaching I had in Brazil had a more traditional European influence,” says Maia. “[Thomas’] way of teaching and pedagogy was totally new and new. She has so many ideas on how to approach a musical phrase and how to perform it. She changed the way I view music and I felt super inspired every time I left her class.
Maia trains between four and five hours a day while preparing for a solo concert. He considers himself a “technical man” and focuses on bow movements and the use of his right hand. For chamber music rehearsals, he enjoys the camaraderie of creating a cohesive sound and making sure the whole group has the same timing and the same ideas of how to technically tune together.
While Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Mozart and Igor Stravinsky are among Maia’s longtime favorite composers, he is constantly on the lookout for new voices in the field. Maia captures the feelings that can live inside a composition regardless of the composer and strives to make those emotions clear to the listener, whether it is passion, anger or excitement.
Interpretation of works by living composers
“It’s important because you keep the music alive,” Maia says. “If all musicians do their part to promote living composers, we will have even greater music in the future like people have in the past. Without these musicians at the time who played the music of living composers, we would not have composers like Beethoven today. You have to keep exploring, and with music there are endless possibilities. There is always more to explore.
Maia has shared many performances in music halls that echo the history of musicians of the past. Some of his most memorable performances have been at Carnegie Hall in New York and Palazzo Ducale di Urbino in Italy. He jokes that it’s hard to make bad sound in these historic halls given the acoustics and the ability to hear every musician with total clarity.
Maia has been on the faculty of festivals in the United States, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. He gives private lessons and coaches middle and high school students in the youth orchestras of Tallahassee. On his last gig with TYO, he had the chance to perform with his students and was so proud to hear them express their personality through their music.
Joy of connecting with the group, the audience
Class time is spent showing students how to fall in love with their instrument so that they are motivated to go home and practice on their own. Maia emphasizes art so that students can listen and be aware of the sounds they make to communicate their own thoughts and feelings. He recognizes his own joy in their travels.
“I’m lucky to have some of my best friends playing with me,” Maia says. “It’s really rewarding if you can get the audience to connect with the band and the music because you can see their reaction and they understand something without you even saying a word.”
Maia joined TSO in 2015 and has enjoyed being part of the “family” of local musicians and professionals.
The July 4 concert at Tom Brown Park will be the group’s first performance to a live audience since the COVID shutdown. Maia looks forward to connecting with old and new listeners.
“Music is a bonding experience for any community because it brings everyone together,” says Maia. “A room group is a small community. We have rehearsals where we have to listen to each other, respect each other’s opinion and help each other. Chamber groups and orchestra can be seen as an example of how a community should function and potentially how a city, state or country could function.
Amanda Sieradzki is the feature film writer for the Council on Culture & Arts. COCA is the umbrella agency for arts and culture in the Capital Region (www.tallahasseearts.org).
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