Alfonso Lopez and Michelle Tabor both hail from Caracas, Venezuela. Alfonso is the concert master for the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra and Michelle lives in Tallahassee since she completed her doctorate in music theory at Florida State.
Together, they prepare programs, rehearse, and tour twice a year presenting violin and piano recitals with music ranging from traditional Western European composers, American offerings, and those of the Latin flair.
The State College of Florida is proud to host the Lopez Tabor Duo on their 2021 tour during Hispanic Heritage Month on Thursday, September 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the SCF Studio for the Performing Arts Recital Hall.
Come hear music from Italian masters, Russian composers, American icons, and Latin American classics. Tickets available at www.scf.edu/neel or at the door.
Come along and join our club!
• Lopez Tabor Duo Website & Facebook
• Alfonso Lopez Website & Facebook & Instagram
• Lopez Tabor Duo SCF Recital Facebook Event
• Tickets to Lopez Tabor Duo Recital
• State College of Florida Music Program Website & Facebook & Instagram
Support the show (https://scf-foundation.org/suncoastcultureclub/)
Robyn Bell: I am very pleased to be talking today to Alfonso Lopez and Michelle Tabor of the Lopez Tabor Duo, who will be performing in the State College of Florida's new 150 seat recital hall on Thursday, September 16th at 7:30 PM. And then turning around the next day and teaching a masterclass to the 40 music majors here at SCF. Here we have violinist Alfonzo Lopez and pianist Michelle Tabor to tell us all about their lives and careers, Alfonzo and Michelle, welcome to the club
Alfonso Lopez: Thank you.
Michelle Tabor: very happy to be here.
Robyn Bell: We're happy to have you. We've been like a year without, guests on campus. So this is really nice to have people able to come on campus and work with our students.
Michelle Tabor: We're so happy to be able to return to more normal activities.
Robyn Bell: I know we're going to talk about that and how crazy all this COVID has been now. Alfonso you do many things in this musical world, but we might best sum it up by calling you the concert master for the Venezuelan Symphony Orchestra. And I'm going to let you jump off from there. And tell us, what else do you do in this career and how did you get to this?
Alfonso Lopez: Well, I was seven years old when I started playing the violin in Venezuela. I grew up in Venezuela, but went to Interlochen, Michigan,
Robyn Bell: Michigan.
Alfonso Lopez: Yes. I went there for two summers.
Robyn Bell: This did someone just say here, you're gonna learn violin or did you go? I have to study the violin.
Alfonso Lopez: My dad was a music lover and we listened to a lot of classical music at home. And so when I was about seven years old or so my dad said, I want you to play the violin. So I gave it a try and I liked it.
Robyn Bell: And you had a teacher at seven years old, like a private teacher.
Alfonso Lopez: I went to a school, a private school where a music was taught by a Czech violinist. Whose name was Amil Friedman oh, so it was my, he was my major violin teacher then. And of course I studied harmony theory, solfege some history I traveled to Interlochen for a summer. Then I got my high school diploma from Interlochen arts academy.
Robyn Bell: So you went there for high school.
Alfonso Lopez: Oh, for one year, I got my high school diploma in Venezuela. Then I moved to Interlochen and got my high school diploma at Interlochen and then went to University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Robyn Bell: I bet that was a climate change from Venezuela to Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Alfonso Lopez: It was yeah. Coming from the tropics to a horrible winter. Yeah, it was pretty hard. So I went to a great school. Where I studied composition with two great composers with more bright William Bolcom, Michael Daugherty.
Robyn Bell: Yep. Love Michael Daugherty's music.
Alfonso Lopez: Yeah. He's he's a great, he was one of
Robyn Bell: eight foot four.
Alfonso Lopez: Yeah. He's, he's an, a basketball player type.
Robyn Bell: He he's a, he is a giant, in many ways in our businesses. Yeah. Physically,
Alfonso Lopez: right? Yeah. And my teacher, Paul Cantor was a great violin teacher. Who's been all over the place. He's now teaching at Rice University. So I got my masters in performance and composition and went back to Venezuela to join the National Symphony Orchestra, the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra, which turned 91 years. Just this year. We have a long tradition of. Concerts where we've played with people like Stravinsky. YoYo Ma has played with us. Itzhak Pearlman. And um, the concert master of the orchestra, I've been now for 26 years in the post doing things. I'm now in the executive board of the orchestra too. I do conduct a lot of concerts in the season, especially the Nutcracker in December.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. You know, nobody wants to do that, but the concert master of the orchestra.
Alfonso Lopez: Yeah. Well, I played my first season in 96 as a violinist, so I got a chance to learn really well, the music from the inside, you know, in the pit. And then I got to, know how the dancers did their tempos, their a little pirouettes, you know, and then I became the conductor like. 2014, I've done more than 50 or so shows of the Nutcracker in Venezuela.
Robyn Bell: Wow. So you play violin, you teach violin.
Alfonso Lopez: I teach violin. I have a youth symphony orchestra in the school where I teach, where I grew up. As a matter of fact, the Friedman school. And I conduct, I compose, I, gig, I travel.
Robyn Bell: Yes. As we say in the music world, you've put it all together to build a living for you and your family making music.
Alfonso Lopez: Right? Yeah. And I enjoyed myself. Most of all,
Robyn Bell: you enjoy. Absolutely. That's so important. Now, Michelle, you live in Tallahassee, Florida. You're kind of close here. Well, was it five hours close,
Michelle Tabor: something like that.
Robyn Bell: And you make your living as a piano player?
Michelle Tabor: Actually. I don't know if you would say living. But I went to school there and my intention was to find a job teaching at a college.
Robyn Bell: You want it to be a college piano teacher?
Michelle Tabor: Yes.
Robyn Bell: And tell us where you grew up and how you ended up in Tallahassee?
Michelle Tabor: Well, I grew up in Caracas in Venezuela and my father was an American who went to Venezuela to work in the oil industry and he stayed for 30 years.
Robyn Bell: Okay. But in marriage, your mother, who was a Venezuelan. Okay.
Michelle Tabor: That's right.
Robyn Bell: So do you have dual citizenship?
Michelle Tabor: Yes, I do.
Robyn Bell: Congratulations. It just means you pay more taxes.
Michelle Tabor: Well, I call myself a half and half.
Robyn Bell: Got it. Yeah. And so when did you start playing piano?
Michelle Tabor: Well, when I was seven, my mother just thought it would be very nice if I would start taking piano lessons.
Robyn Bell: Both of you seven years old?
Michelle Tabor: Yes.
Robyn Bell: And you had a piano in your house already
Michelle Tabor: Where they got one.
Robyn Bell: Okay.
Michelle Tabor: They got one for me.
Robyn Bell: Nice and good folks there.
Michelle Tabor: Yes. And I started taking piano lessons and I never stopped and they didn't have to make me practice. In fact, my mother tells me I would repeat things and repeat things and repeat things and kind of drive them crazy, but they tried not to discourage me.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. So you went all the way through high school and in Caracas.
Michelle Tabor: Yeah.
Robyn Bell: And then did you end up going to Florida State for your college degree?
Michelle Tabor: No. I went to Tulane University
Robyn Bell: in Louisiana Tulane
Michelle Tabor: for my bachelor's degree. That's when I came to the U S okay. And I started college.
Robyn Bell: And both of you, when you came, you Alfonzo to Interlochen and you Michelle to Tulane, did you already speak pretty fluent English?
Michelle Tabor: Yes,
Robyn Bell: of course. Was your dad being an American? You probably had English. You did not.
Alfonso Lopez: Who. Yeah, I'm still learning
Robyn Bell: me too. Okay. So you got your undergraduate at Tulane.
Michelle Tabor: In, in piano performance. Yeah, no performance. And then I got a master's degree in piano performance from the University of Denver.
Robyn Bell: Oh, wow. Another cold place.
Michelle Tabor: Yes. And then I went to FSU for my doctorate. And there, I decided to diversify because if I was going to teach at a small college, I needed to know more. I thought more than just play the piano. So I majored in theory.
Robyn Bell: Oh, wow. My brain loses on my ear when I think about doctoral theory classes. No, thank you.
Michelle Tabor: But I never stopped playing. I was always taking like one hour of chamber music or something like that when I was there. So I, I didn't play as much as I had when I kept playing. So.
Robyn Bell: Your training as a pianist is mostly in solo literature, or did you focus on collaborative piano and they call it or, or, you know, accompanying or what you just did, whatever they put in front of you?
Michelle Tabor: Well, whatever they put, but at first, well, most of the time it was solo literature and it was just that as I was growing up. I felt a little deprived because I would see other people in orchestras and bands and they were in big groups and I was always by myself in a practice room.
Robyn Bell: Yes. Being a piano player can be very lonely.
Michelle Tabor: And when I started playing chamber music, I loved it and I've just gone. Totally.
Robyn Bell: And so you, went to Florida State for your doctorate and you still live there. So you must've found something appealing about Tallahassee kept you grounded there.
Michelle Tabor: Yeah. My plan was to find a job teaching at a college somewhere. I didn't know where, but before I graduated, I met this very nice gentlemen who was
Robyn Bell: always about love
Michelle Tabor: and he teaches physics at FSU. So I stayed.
Robyn Bell: Okay. And so what do you do? What does a typical day for Michelle the piano player look like now?
Michelle Tabor: Well, actually, Just about all my energy goes into the Lopez Tabor duo. Because I need to spend a lot of time looking for concert, sending proposals. That's a never ending job
Robyn Bell: agent for the group,
Michelle Tabor: I guess you would say that.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. So then that brings me to my next question is you're both from Venezuela. It looks like you kind of took divergent paths. How did you come together as a duo in, this format where you, tour now annually?
Michelle Tabor: I had a violin partner in Venezuela. And he would come here. To perform with me, but then when things started to change politically, he could not get a visa to come to the states.
Robyn Bell: I see.
Michelle Tabor: And this was the year 2004, and I already had like six concerts lined up. So I went into a kind of a panic, as you can imagine.
Robyn Bell: Right? Not just anybody can jump in.
Michelle Tabor: No. So I called several people in Caracas, I also tried to find a violinist here in the states. And this one gentlemen, named Florian Ebersberg, who ran a very important chamber. Series in Caracas told me don't worry. Cause I had been looking for a while and I was really panicked and
Robyn Bell: it was to hate it. When people say that don't worry, they have no idea. You're like
Michelle Tabor: he said, I know several violinists who have visas so I can find you someone. I thought he was so nice. That he would take the time in trouble to help me. I really appreciated that. This was like, I called maybe around nine in the morning. He said, I have already contacted Alfonso Lopez and he is to let me know. by 11:00. And if I don't hear from him by then I'll contact someone else. And he said, just check your email and see what happens. So bought 11, 11 30. I was very fearful, but I checked and he said, Alfonso Lopez said he will do it. His cell number is this, his home number. Is this call him. So I did. And we talked and I FedEx him, the music and this was August and the concerts were in September.
Robyn Bell: Luckily Alfonso is a very good,
Michelle Tabor: so when we had to arrange the trip, you know, because there's so many arrangements that you have to make. And we put it together. And
Robyn Bell: so Alfonzo, how do you get this time off to come on this tour?
Alfonso Lopez: The orchestra is not in session or the school. We have a break in August and our vacations in December are kind of long, you know, we'd like to celebrate our Christmas. So the orchestra actually starts again in the end of January. So I get to travel in September with Michelle and, and January also. So we play about maybe 20 concerts per year.
Robyn Bell: Very nice. And so you just kind of rehearse on your own and then you get, do you come a little early? You get together rehearse together
Alfonso Lopez: exactly like a week before. So,
Robyn Bell: and you've guys been doing this, as you said since 2004. So you have quite the repertoire to choose from. And we're going to talk about your concert that you're going to be doing here at the State College of Florida and the programming, but do you find it a challenge to find new. Pieces to add to your expanding repertoire every year?
Alfonso Lopez: Well, the repertoire is huge. The literature is great. I mean, there's Mozart Brahms, Beethoven, sonatas. And of course there's the Latin American repertoire and the Spanish repertoire, you know, so many composers, like Albania's there.
Robyn Bell: And that's one of the things I love about you guys coming here. Cause this is your second performance here at the State College of Florida. You were in the Neel Performing Arts Center when you were here. Was it five years ago? Maybe?
Alfonso Lopez: Yeah,
Michelle Tabor: I think so.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. And now you're going to be literally the very first performance in our new hall, so exciting. But what I love about your programming. Is that it covers all of that. Cause we don't normally have people that come in and play this rich, Latin, Spanish heritage music, and it's so important to expose our students to it. And of course, you know, it's so well, you know, it's in your blood, as they say.
Alfonso Lopez: Nowadays there's violin and piano dues all over the world. And what makes us different is the repertoire, you know, we're able to play European classical repertoire, and then we're able to do the other stuff in our life. Latin American pieces from Cuba, from the Dominican Republic, from Venezuela, from Spain, and kind of bring the full part of our music into the classical realm.
Robyn Bell: Yes. And that's what really appeals to me and sharing this to our students and with our community. So let's talk about your program. You sent me the program for the recital. You're going to perform here on Thursday, September 16th at 7:30 and let me just say, if anyone listening goes to the app store on their phone or mobile device, they can download the SCF Music App and actually already see the program. It's there for you to view right in the palm of your hand, as we speak right now, you should get the SCF Music App this year. The SCF Music App will be the only way actually for you to see our programs for all of our performances. So go ahead and download it now. But this program has so much diverse music on it from a Baroque selection by Corelli to a Russian Sonata by Prokofiev. In some American composers, we're going to hear Aaron Copeland's Hoedown, Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. And then top it off with this Latin set, including Malguena a Barcoroleand a Spanish dancer. I think you guys about cover it all. When you sit down to plan the music for your tour, how do you pick such a wide reaching program?
Michelle Tabor: I guess we just start talking about it and we start throwing out names of pieces or one of us will say, I really would like to learn this one or play this one. And. It's not really a difficult process at all when we start discussing this,
Robyn Bell: but it's intentional, like you were saying, I mean, you've got
Alfonso Lopez: we have a recipe,
Robyn Bell: you have a recipe, you have this, the Italian classic masters, you have the American composers and then you have, I call it the Latin set because it just runs the gamut. And nowhere else, are you going to see that many Latin composers and pieces? Right? An in your program kind of goes in that order to finish. The Spanish flair
Michelle Tabor: that's right. And as a duo, we're very fortunate because Alfonso is a very good arranger. And sometimes I'll say to him, I'd love to play like, and my niece said, can you make us an arrangement of that? And so he'll go off and do it. And then he produces a piece for us to play
Robyn Bell: in your spare time. Alfonzo.
Alfonso Lopez: When I travel, for example hotel nights can be long sometimes and lonely you
Robyn Bell: and your little computer. Do you use a Finale or Sibelius?
Alfonso Lopez: Yeah. You know, once you start with Finale, it takes. So much time to learn.
Robyn Bell: Yeah.
Alfonso Lopez: Everyone says Sibelius's better, but I just don't want it.
Robyn Bell: Oh, sure. The programs are similar in a lot of ways, but like I'm a Sibelius user for the same reason. I don't go learn Finale. Cause I've been with Sibelius from the start. I know all the shortcuts, super simple. If someone who said you have to learn Finale, you know, maybe give me a year before I could put a note in, so I totally get that. But thank goodness we have that. I'm sure you remember the day. Handwriting out your manuscripts.
Alfonso Lopez: I used to use pro composer. Okay. And before, yeah. And then I was born in 72, so I'm a um,
Robyn Bell: only two years older than me, really.
Alfonso Lopez: So I used to use a Commodore 64. Imagine. And, and back then I used to have music programs, notation programs, and I still have my, music printed. And so yes, I've been at it for a long time.
Robyn Bell: Do you guys find, when you go to put together a program, maybe you're learning new music, the Corelli, the Prokofiev and many things, but do you find that learning the new Spanish, Latin style music is a little easier to you comes more naturally?
Alfonso Lopez: Well, especially when you have to play it on stage. It's clear for the audience or for a musician when I play my own work or my own arrangement or a tango, it feels more natural than playing a Beethoven Sonata. Now, of course, I have the training to, play in, the style of Beethoven or in the style of Mozart, which is not the same or a Baroque composer the, the way you use vibrato. It's not the same or the way you end phrase his or the way you attack with your bow is different,
Robyn Bell: always different approach to playing the piece.
Alfonso Lopez: But of course, when you see me play Latin piece, then people realize, oh, he knows what he's doing. You know,
Michelle Tabor: because this is music. We've heard all our lives. It's just around. Yeah. Everywhere all the time, even though we're not from Argentina for example, we've heard tangos. Yeah. Anyway.
Robyn Bell: Right. It's like the Germans plan, the, the Strauss Walters, they know the little or our bands that play a Sousa March. They're just certain things that, you know, automatically to put in. That's not on the printed page and that's how you guys play this Latin music.
Alfonso Lopez: If you play a waltz in the Viennese tile, you know, 3 1, 2, 3. And so how do you do that? If you're not from there, you know, while you, I guess you can imitate it, but it will never be the same as being at the real Viennese thing, you know?
Robyn Bell: And what is something about a Latin piece that you guys would inherently know that say maybe my students being from America would not notice.
Michelle Tabor: I would say one of the biggest differences is the rhythms and also we dance. Mm. Hmm. You know, we go have social gatherings, which then
Robyn Bell: there's movement to it.
Michelle Tabor: Yes.
Alfonso Lopez: But they call the groove. How do you groove it? How do you play with flare and, flavor and with grace?
Robyn Bell: Right. Well, we have really good Hispanic population here in our music program. We have a lot of Latin students and I'm very excited for them to hear this program because of that, because oftentimes in growing up in the public schools here in America, and they've been the band or orchestra programs, I think in their families, they probably experienced this, but here at the college or through music education, maybe not. So I'm really excited for them to hear that and share that with you. Do you have a favorite piece on the program? One that you're like, oh, I can't wait to play this.
Alfonso Lopez: Well, you know, it's like having a meal,
Robyn Bell: like the mashed potatoes burst,
Alfonso Lopez: right? Some people like dessert. Some people like the, the main courts, the entree, but I guess as a performer, you, liked the journey. It's a musical journey. We start in, Italy, then we go to Russia and then we traveled to the states and play the great music of Bernstein. That theme from West Side Story Somewhere is so beautiful. So breathtaking, so heartfelt. And then we, go to the Caribbean and we play different pieces and then we play. On composition in the end. It's a great musical journey.
Robyn Bell: All right. doing the same program. How many times are you performing it on your tour here in Florida?
Alfonso Lopez: Maybe like eight or 10 times. then we usually play the same program for a whole year or in two consecutive tours. And then we change.
Robyn Bell: And do you find over the course? Let's just say, you're going to play at 10 times here kind of sequentially. Do you find that by the time you get to the 10th one, the music has changed from maybe the first performance.
Michelle Tabor: Yes. Yeah, definitely.
Robyn Bell: How so?
Michelle Tabor: I guess it grows with us and also when we play it together, it's like we understand each other's musical ideas better, and it just keeps changing. evolves,
Robyn Bell: which is the best thing about being a musician. Right. If I'm an artist and I paint Mona Lisa, she looks the same every time for centuries. But a piece of music every time it's played, it's different. And even with two people playing it, it just continues to grow and change. Yeah, it's a living thing.
Michelle Tabor: It is.
Alfonso Lopez: And of course the, halls where we play are all different to caustics change the way
Robyn Bell: it's like baseball,
Michelle Tabor: pianos are different.
Alfonso Lopez: It affects your, tempos, your dynamics, your interpretation. Sometimes
Robyn Bell: You know MichelleI teach a music appreciation class? And there was one discussion posts that they have to do where they talk about choosing instruments. And, you know, if you were going to play. For instance, it's usually in the jazz chapter and they learn about all the sort of the jazz instruments. And whenever they say piano, I'm going to choose piano. I always remind them, but be careful because you can't pack your piano up and take it with you. And that is very unique. Every place you go, you have to perform on a different instrument. Whereas you Alfonso. That's your buddy. You know,
Alfonso Lopez: what was the same, but the acoustics sometimes are so dry and on my violin, it's not like a, my own instrument. You know, it's a little difficult, but the piano is a different case. Yeah, Michellecan talk about it perhaps.
Michelle Tabor: Yeah, it's just one of those things. A pianist has to learn how to do. And the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Robyn Bell: Do you have like a favorite brand of piano that, you know, when you walk in, if it says Yamaha or Steinway or Baldwin, when you're like, oh, I'm at home here.
Michelle Tabor: Not exactly because each piano is different. But the Steinways are wonderful. Yamaha's in general. Wonderful. Bosendorfer pianos. Oh, wonderful.
Robyn Bell: I'm not familiar. It sounds German.
Michelle Tabor: It's Austrian. That's my piano is a Bosendorfer. Okay. If I didn't have that, I think I would have a Steinway.
Robyn Bell: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. We, we actually, someone just called us last weekend here at the college. Her mother has passed away lives in Venice. Florida has a Steinway piano wants to make a donation, you know, it's kind of thing. So we have gathered. I think we have three or four. Now this may be, be our fourth in our collection. Some we pay a little bit of money for, or they get here and we have to pay some money to have them sort of brought up to speed, you know, but it it's a unique place being Sarasota. So cultural, the number of people that moved down here with their fine, fine instruments. And it's not just pianos. We have French horns, trumpets violins that are donated. It's, it's amazing our instrument inventory and how that grows. You know, peoples expiring and the families don't know what to do with these instruments, you know? So this, one of the, the piano you're going to be playing on on Thursday, September 16th is one of those is a Steinway piano home.
Michelle Tabor: Wonderful.
Robyn Bell: I hope you like it.
Michelle Tabor: I'm sure. I love it.
Robyn Bell: Play all the wrong notes out of it. Okay. We have actually been talking about doing this program. You guys coming here for two years, we had it on the schedule. The world's shut down. We canceled all of that, moved it to this year, but tell us what did COVID look like for you as musicians? How did your life change?
Alfonso Lopez: Well, I did a lot of practicing in the morning as always, so that part never changed.
Robyn Bell: Good,
Alfonso Lopez: but I did a little more online work. I did some interviews on my YouTube channel. I published some of my activities at home on my Instagram account. I wrote some ideas on my Facebook page and
Robyn Bell: stayed connected virtually.
Alfonso Lopez: Oh yeah. I did,
Robyn Bell: but the Venezuelans Symphony Orchestra shut it down.
Alfonso Lopez: We didn't do anything, perhaps a couple of recordings online too.
Robyn Bell: That's tough. That's like audio, video engineering. That's not really performing.
Alfonso Lopez: Yeah. And my school work was online too. I had to teach my students through a camera. It was really hard because the internet connections. That great down there. And of course it's never the same. When you have your student in front of you, you're able to show him how to play, how to sound, how to play with better intonation.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. Yes. Hand position and hold really hard to see and hard to demonstrate. Yeah, totally. Our piano teachers have told us the same thing really hard. And then when you're dealing with a student. That has a piano at home and maybe hasn't been tuned as I, ah, how do I even get through this lesson?
Alfonso Lopez: Right?
Robyn Bell: Yeah. Now here in Sarasota, the orchestra, I don't know if it was through donations or through reserves, but they were actually able to continue to pay the musicians 80%. I believe of their salary. Plus keep their medical benefits was the Venezuelan Symphony Orchestra, able to continue to pay it.
Alfonso Lopez: Yes, but not a significant salary.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. It was hard.
Alfonso Lopez: Yeah. The, economic situation down there is not the best right now, but a lot of musicians find a way to, do other things outside the orchestra. So like I have a teaching job and I get to do this Tour with Michelle in the states. And that gives me a little bit of air to breathe. But I did listen to a lot of opera too. Cause I love opera as well. And of course I got to see what other symphony orchestras in the world were doing because we're all in the same position, you know,
Robyn Bell: what about Michelle? What did it COVID look like for you and your household? Because your husband is still teaching at FSU.
Michelle Tabor: He's still teaching there.
Robyn Bell: Did he have to go all online?
Michelle Tabor: He had to do it all. Online or via zoom, but he was still going, on campus. Professors could go, but the students were not allowed on campus. And so he's worked basically. Continued, but just in a different format. With me as I was saying to somebody who asked me, I didn't stop practicing that part of my work continued unchanged, but we just couldn't. It.
Robyn Bell: Right. So, yeah, it was funny here because we actually had classes in person and we had rehearsals and we gave performances, but they didn't allow any audience members. So our staff learned how to live stream on Facebook, but it was so weird. Like the first concert, it was great. I mean, some of the best performances. Ever in programming ever in my career happened during the pandemic. And it was sad because I didn't feel like there was many people there, but I remember the very first piece we played without an audience. And we get to the last note. I mean, it's an, it's a stinger exclamation point and there's like, no applause. Oh, this is weird. I told the students, I would imagine it'd be like performing on a film set or, you know, for some place where you don't have a live audience and musicians really do this all the time. We're just not accustomed to it, you know?
Alfonso Lopez: Yeah.
Robyn Bell: Now the day after your recital. So on Friday, the 17th, you are going to be giving a masterclass to a violinist and a pianist music majors here at the college. And I know you're very passionate about music education. So what words of advice would you. First or second year music major in today's world. Having lived through this pandemic, what does it take to make money and a decent living in the realm of classical music making?
Alfonso Lopez: Well try to think about different options. Always try to project yourself into the future of information. You know, now we will live in a world where YouTube has it all, you want to know how to fix a washing machine, just go on YouTube.
Robyn Bell: And so I did that just yesterday, actually.
Alfonso Lopez: And so of course try to stay active Play hear scales your etudes, your concertos, but also look for information. Know about the history of composers you play. Think about maybe teaching as an option, always because a performer will always have students as a way to have other means of getting some cash
Robyn Bell: in leaving your legacy
Alfonso Lopez: too. That's more important. Well, in my case, yeah. Teach students, but also conduct a youth symphony orchestra. I play concert master in my symphony, but also do Nutcracker in December and conduct other things. I play recitals, violin and piano. I play string quartet, string trios,
Robyn Bell: anything that comes your way.
Alfonso Lopez: Right? So chamber music is a great option to
Robyn Bell: compose. You earn money from that as well. Yeah. And even more, when you say now for these students, and I'm going to tell you they know more about it than I do, so I don't need to be preaching, but certainly the technical aspect of where music is going and how we share music and also that entrepreneurial, I mean, you are the agent for the Lopez, Tabor duo that entrepreneurial spirit of going out. Making the connections and finding the gigs. Right. Very important.
Michelle Tabor: Yeah. Finding the way to make it happen is what you need to do. And I would say to be in the field of music, especially performing you need to be prepared to work very, very hard and be very. Dedicated and disciplined. And then for a pianist, I guess some options are opening up your own private studio teaching or I don't know what opportunities there would be in the public school system. I think that's more for the, the, a large ensemble and bands and things,
Robyn Bell: When you do the masterclass, Michelle, you're going to be working with a young lady named Maria Medina. And she is, well, I hope you find her to be a wonderful piano. She's from Cuba and she works on classical music mostly, but this semester she's joined the jazz band.
Michelle Tabor: Wonderful.
Robyn Bell: Yes. So that's important, right? Being able to play in those different styles. If you can improv and comp and or musical theater. So many pit orchestras, especially for pianists. I mean, I can't get a musical theater pit orchestra job because I don't play piano. I can conduct all day, but they want someone that can play piano rehearse with singers.
Michelle Tabor: And I've known pianists who have church jobs. And then yeah. Augment their income. They do things like play in hotels, for example, and other places like that.
Robyn Bell: Yeah, you gotta piece it together. I think you two are, quintessential in that we could have a masterclass on just putting a career together as musicians, you know, it's quite inspiring to our students to see people that do this. So thank you for sharing that with our students. Now we talked about Michelle's. The Borden Hawker song. What was, what's it called?
Michelle Tabor: I don't say it's someone who speaks German would say something like this. Endorphin,
Robyn Bell: booze and Burford. Yes. Yes. All right. Alfonzo people are always interested in violins because there's the strategy. I plan a billion dollar violin. What instrument do you play on?
Alfonso Lopez: Joseph Curtin violin made in Ann Arbor, Michigan 1999. He's one of the great,
Robyn Bell: Contemporary violin makers. Yes. Have you ever played on one of these really old is
Alfonso Lopez: played a Strad and Gordinary Balmain and an Amati violin as well, but this is your choice. You just couldn't afford. But a curtain is a great maker. He actually made a beautiful Strad copy for me. I'm really happy with it.
Robyn Bell: How many violins do you own?
Alfonso Lopez: I have three or four I say, or four, because one of them is played by my daughter.
Robyn Bell: Oh, how sweet do you teach her?
Alfonso Lopez: I do she doesn't like to be taught by me though.
Robyn Bell: That's tough.
Alfonso Lopez: Yeah. It's hard when you have kids, they don't want to hear you tell him how to do things, you know?
Robyn Bell: Yes, I do. So, I mean, I don't have kids, but I, I know it is powdered butt syndrome. Yeah.
Alfonso Lopez: Right. Exactly. So I have two daughters Erica, the, eldest one plays violin, and Viola. She's actually playing now better viola that and violin.
Robyn Bell: It's a very good skill to have, to be able to do both of those.
Alfonso Lopez: And so she has long fingers. She's kinda. Big and the athletic. So I think Viola is good for her. Yeah. And then my 13 year old is playing cello and she's doing great. My brother
Robyn Bell: did have like a trio family trio.
Alfonso Lopez: My father-in-law plays violin. So we do play quartets at home.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. Very nice. Yeah. Well we use this podcast to talk about music and cultural arts events, theater. Visual art as well, but I'm a foodie at heart and we often say, okay, people that live in the area, what's your favorite restaurant to go to this kind of thing, but I'm going to twist this around for you guys a little bit. So let's say I come to Caracas, Venezuela, and you're going to have me in your home for dinner, which I really hope happens one day. What is the quintessential Venezuelan meal be?
Alfonso Lopez: I think I would have to tell you, AICPA is like a pre cooked corn flour. You kind of put it On the grill, you would say a griddle and then you put inside a chicken uh,
Robyn Bell: kind of thing.
Alfonso Lopez: Thicker it's thicker. You can fill it with ham or Spam, I don't know.
Robyn Bell: Are there particular Venezuelan spices that you would add to the food that makes it tastes a little different than say an American chicken Kaisa DIA or
Alfonso Lopez: whatever? Yeah, I guess
okay. Yeah, yeah.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. What are you going to make it? Sure. House.
Michelle Tabor: I was telling him another very typical dishes called Bobby. John, how would you translate that to be
Alfonso Lopez: called dirty clothes,
Robyn Bell: dirty clothes. It doesn't sound too good to
Alfonso Lopez: shredded beef and rice and black beans.
Robyn Bell: Okay. Tense plant. Oh God. Bring the plantations. I eat them all day and night. Delicious. Yeah. Good. I just can't wait. Okay. So let's say that the folks listening want to follow your careers or learn more about you and your duo, where can they go to get that information?
Alfonso Lopez: Well we as a duo have a webpage it's a triple w Lopez taper, duo.moonfruit.com. It's a little long, but we also have a Facebook page, a Lopez taper duo. Or if you want to follow me, you can go on Instagram and type Alfonso Lopez, C H, and you will find me there. And.
Robyn Bell: Oh, you do twitter. You're a brave man.
Alfonso Lopez: I do Twitter.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. You know, it we'll put links to all these in our show notes, so people can, if they're listening on the web, they can see our show notes. They can just click and jump right to your pages and your social media,
Alfonso Lopez: Asking about how to promote your career. I think you have to do social media. Yeah, because if you're not on social media, then you don't exist. I mean, you can play very well, but if you're not on there,
Robyn Bell: nobody's going to know you
Alfonso Lopez: look at Pearlman. It's a problem. It's doing a lot of even cooking shows, you know?
Robyn Bell: Yeah. I did not know this.
Alfonso Lopez: Oh gosh. Yeah. So, and he of course plays and tells jokes.
Robyn Bell: Yes. He's a funny guy. Funny. Well, we are really looking forward to the two of you performing this incredible program for us in the brand new Recital Hall located right next to the Neel Performing Arts Center on the Bradenton campus of the State College of Florida. That's at 58, 40, 26th street west in Bradenton, near the Bayshore Gardens Target and across the street from IMG, as I like to say, you can get your tickets for this. By going to . du/neelThat's in E L or at the door, the night of the performance. They are only $15, but all students at SCF and for Manatee and Sarasota county schools, plus all SCF faculty and staff can get a ticket for only $5 at the door. Just show your school ID. It's that simple.Alfonso and Michelle thank you for sharing your music, talents and time with our community.
Alfonso Lopez: Thank you Robyn. Thank you for being an, inspiration for musicians too. I follow your career as well on Facebook, and I see you very active, this podcast. Idea is great.
Robyn Bell: Thank you.
Alfonso Lopez: I hope you continue to,
Robyn Bell: I'm hoping to get some sleep next week. Thank you both
Michelle Tabor: you.
Alfonso Lopez: Thank you.