Canadian violinist Alexandre Da Costa is a man on a mission. Soloist, educator and artistic director, Da Costa is shouldering his new Strad to reach the general public with his “Stradivarius at the Opera” project, the first of several new initiatives. He’s already added to his résumé a prestigious TED Talk in Australia, where he teaches six months of the year.
LSM: What do you value the most?
My family is now the absolute centre of my life. Of course, becoming a father changes life and my three-and-a-half-year old makes me realize the essence of it. I also believe that my music playing has completely changed since his birth and that I finally understand what music should mean.
LSM: How do you adapt the logistics of family with your concert and teaching ?
Definitely, the structure of my life right now is rather complicated. Indeed, I spend three months in Canada followed by three months in Australia and so on. I spend the summer in Quebec mainly for my festival (Festival International Hautes-Laurentides) and the end of autumn and early winter on tour both in Quebec and abroad, and the rest of the time in Asia and in Australia. I try to be with my wife and son as much as possible, especially during teaching periods in Australia, but I still have to spend a few weeks alone on the road. We manage to find some stability.
LSM: What is particular about Australia from a personal point of view?
Australia is a big country, and by big, I mean very serious and well organized. The system is generally very similar to Canada, but there is also the British side that can be found in everything. Indeed, Perth is a city extremely influenced by the United Kingdom and there are innumerable common points between the two countries, both in terms of customs and morals and in everyday life. I am personally very much relaxed in Australia since it is quite the opposite of Spain, my previous adoptive country. In Australia, politeness, calm and rectitude are the most appreciated qualities, and they open doors. My son attends pre-kindergarten and he is learning all of this already. In fact, he speaks English with an Australian accent and French with a Québécois accent. It is very funny!
LSM: What surprised you in Australia?
Actually, when I came the first time, I was expecting to arrive in a part of the world where everything was adventure and safari. I was expecting to see Crocodile Dundee with his hat and boots! But on the contrary, I found a very civilized and urban place, very modern and very advanced at the same time.
LSM: What are the projects that are driving you in the next months?
From December 2017, my tour “Stradivarius at the Opera” officially begins. It will be more than a regular tour of concerts. It’s actually a tour of shows. We will travel with an orchestra, a big technical team, stage equipment, costumes, in short, a “show” rarely done in classical, worthy of major productions of Pop and Rock!
In the coming weeks I will also be a guest of European and American orchestras, including the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Staatskapelle Halle, as well as the orchestras of Südwestfalen, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Colorado Springs and West Australia.
I cannot wait to go back to Vienna to work with the Wiener Symphoniker and Maestro Philippe Jordan. It will be a very special week, as I will play as a guest soloist for the launch of the European version of the Stradivarius at the Opera album on the Sony Classical label, and as the Guest First Concertmaster for three concerts of the new year at the Wiener Konzerthaus.
A few days later in Germany I will record a CD dedicated to the Wagner family, including the concerto for violin and orchestra by Siegfried Wagner, son of the great Richard Wagner. I love this work and I hope to make a final version that can eventually become a reference in the field.
LSM: Your image seems to have changed in the last year: we see you more often playing classical music in non-traditional media. Tell us about this new direction.
Indeed, for more than a year I’ve worked with great people to develop my projects. I became an artist of Productions Jacques K. Primeau and L’Équipe Spectra. These two entities have incredible resources to help realize my artistic dreams. I have always wanted to share classical music with a wider audience and convince as many people as possible to be interested in -classical music, even if it is not part of their past or their immediate traditions. With “Stradivarius at the Opera” we are doing a whole hat trick. The show is multimedia, it’s really impressive to see what’s happening around the musicians on stage. The lighting, projections, staging, everything is thought of in a quarter turn and was designed by the firm Silent Partners, known for its design of shows for Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and other mega-stars.
LSM: Should we expect new albums in 2018 and 2019?
Absolutely. My relationship with the Sony Classical and Spectra Musique labels has just started, there are many future projects. Some will be recorded in a few months, and others will take a few more seasons, but there will be something for everyone. From “super purist” to atypical musical collaborations, everything will be there!
LSM: Does your marketing plan include appearance in non-traditional media?
Yes, we just recorded an amazing music video with a REMSTAR grant and I was able to choose my own director. I had heard an interview with Catherine Perrin and the director Carlos Guerra, and I found his career reall interesting. I contacted him, he liked what I had to offer artistically, and we made the clip. Carlos is considered an expert on Rap and R’n’B video clips, and he never thought of doing anything with classical music. He rose to the challenge in a great way, and the result is really refreshing. This is the kind of clip that we like to see and see again and that makes us smile!
LSM: You are now playing on a Stradivarius 1701, tell us about this loan.
I was lucky to receive a great gift a few months ago: friends have graciously agreed to buy one of the most beautiful violins on the planet and to lend it to me over a 10-year period. It’s really wonderful to know that I have a decade to evolve with the same instrument and that it will mark a part of my life as an artist, probably the most important part. To know that this loan is a gesture coming from friends is also very special. My wife and I have a very close friendship relationship with the owners, Guy and Maryse [Deveault], and we feel a strong enthusiasm around our projects and ambitions.