Daniel del Pino is one of the leading Spanish concert pianists. Winner of First Prizes at both national and international competitions, he holds a Master’s Degree in piano performance from Yale. He has performed in concert halls on all five continents and is a frequent performer at music festivals around the world. In addition, he has eight CDs to his credit and this coming July, he will be appearing at the Newport Music Festival in several venues, including a very special performance entitled 2,3,4 Pianos at the historic Vanderbilt mansion, The Breakers.

Stay Thirsty Magazine was thrilled to visit with Daniel del Pino at this home for these Five Questions.

STAY THIRSTY: You have appeared continuously at the Newport Music Festival for the past nine years. What is it about this Festival that keeps you coming back? What do you have planned for your July 2019 appearance?

Chopin Étude Op. 10 n. 4 – Daniel del Pino

DANIEL DEL PINO: I have appeared almost continuously at the Newport Music Festival for eighteen years. The only year I missed was 2016 because we were expecting our second child around the same time and I didn’t want to miss his birth. Only that type of reason would make me not go to Newport.

Daniel del Pino

Why should I keep coming back? Well, the first reason is that they keep inviting me (to my great pleasure and honor). I love going to the Newport Music Festival. Not only because the amazing musicians I have met over the years, and keep meeting, are among the top in the world, but are good friends. The music that we get to play is excellent. I have discovered lots of great music I didn’t even know existed. I also love the town. It is a very unique experience to share music, breakfast, lunch, stage and rides on the van to the venues with about thirty amazing musicians over a period of two weeks. This July brings great music for me to play, Après une lecture du Dante by Liszt, his Spanish Rhapsody (which I performed several times in Newport over the years), Bach’s four pianos concerto, Schubert’s Fantasia for four hands, and a lot more.

STAY THIRSTY: You have given concerts on five continents, from Spain to Japan, from the United States to Morocco and beyond. How does the audience at the Newport Music Festival compare to audiences around the world?

DANIEL DEL PINO: A great thing about Newport is that you end up knowing and meeting the audience. After so many years, you see many familiar faces and it gives a very nice feeling of family. On the other hand, there are different types of audiences in Newport, depending on the program and the venue. You find real experts that go to concerts all year long. You find also music-lovers that are not experts. You find professional musicians. In general, it is a very selective audience, quite warm and supportive of our work. There is a very special feeling that was created over the years with the audience. There are not many places an audience member can get to hear you play 15 times in less than two weeks, with different combinations of chamber music colleagues and pieces.

STAY THIRSTY: What is it about Chopin that led you to record the album entitled Looking Back over Chopin? Do you feel closer to the composer or to his music?

DANIEL DEL PINO: Chopin was always my favorite composer. He was there all the time, from the very beginning. My father, who is an amateur pianist, taught me how to read music with a score of Chopin’s Étude. I remember when living in Morocco (where I started piano) listening back and forth to the Pollini recording of the complete Chopin Études. The CD is one-hour long and we use to drive to Ceuta to buy supplies (it took at that time more than 5 hours), so, basically on each trip, I heard that CD five times on the way there, and five times on the way back.

When I started becoming serious about piano, I decided that I wanted my first commercial CD to be the one with Chopin complete Études, and so it happened. Looking Back over Chopin was an experiment with my dear colleague Andreas Prittwitz, the jazz-baroque musician. I love jazz and this was the way I could attempt to enter that world. It is a mixture of Chopin transformed with some jazz in it.

STAY THIRSTY: In addition to performing, you also give Master Classes. How to do find the work ethic of today’s students vs. when you were doing your studies? Are these students realistic about their chances of developing sustainable musical careers?

DANIEL DEL PINO: It is difficult to generalize. The feeling is that the system (in Spain at least) is not helping. Students are required to do more and more subjects that take a lot of their time and concentration from the “real” instrument. And this happens unfortunately at the age when they would benefit more by having time to practice. When I was a student, I could practice seven to eight hours per day. Nowadays, that is just impossible. They have so many theory classes. Also, students are pushed to pursue further studies that most of the time have too much academic weight.

Kapustin Étude Op. 40 n. 8 – Daniel del Pino

I think that when a student applies to a school there should be a field of musicology, where the practical interpretation of the instrument is not strong, and the other way around too, when a student wants to study piano or violin, not to ask him to dedicate so many hours to academics.

There are great talented musicians as always, but students don’t have much time and have a hard time concentrating because of all the information that is given to them. They lack curiosity because things are too accessible. The problem is that, most of the time, the education systems are done and organized by people that have a lot of time, and usually a “real” performer doesn’t have that much time to dedicate to paperwork.  

STAY THIRSTY: If you had your choice of any concert hall in the world and could assemble the “dream” team to accompany you, where would it be and who would be on the stage with you?

DANIEL DEL PINO: This is a tricky question in many senses. I have performed in great halls sometimes, but nobody took care of me, and sometimes I played in a not-so-great-hall where many loving people in the organization made you feel at home. It is a mixture of elements that make you enjoy the experience. I would never dare listing names of musicians that I would love to join me in a concert, there are too many, and at the same time, I am sure that I would leave some out by mistake. But one could say that one of my favorite venues is The Breakers in Newport and one “dream” team is the family of musicians from the Newport Music Festival!

(Daniel del Pino photographs credit: Michal Novak)



All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.