‘Something Beyond Understanding’
I begin my interview with Adrien La Marca with a discussion not about music, but of food. Ahead of his performance of the Walton Viola Concerto in Hong Kong on 2 June, we talk about where to get the best dim sum in Hong Kong, the opportunity to sample local food is one of the highlights of being a musician in Adrien’s eyes.
For Adrien, having time to cook (French and Italian food are his specialties, being born in France but with a set of Italian grandparents) is a sign of having time off, time to relax. In an industry that can often be relentless, finding time off work can be tricky – but Adrien always makes time.
‘For one thing, it’s nice to stay in touch with my wife! And with my close friends and my family, it’s always nice to feel like I have a base. I have a very different kind of spare time depending on whether I’m home or abroad. In Hong Kong, if I have time, I’ll explore, go to different restaurants… when I’m home, I like to see friends, go to the movies, have a beer, read a book…’
Travelling often means exciting concerts in exciting parts of the world – but not a lot of time for anything else.
‘Sometimes you just travel, you arrive, you play, and you leave. You don’t get a feeling for the place. It’s not a holiday – you have to be focused, you have to be in good shape – mentally and physically. That’s also the difficulty of being a musician. It’s part of being a musician, to travel.
‘It’s nice to have a job where you can travel and make it part of your life. Some people like to have a very regular place to go, but I like the activity of moving and being in different places. It’s tiring, but you get used to it.
‘When I speak about this with my non musician friends, they think I’m on holiday all the time. But it’s not – sometimes you arrive, you go to rest in your hotel, you practise in the afternoon, you play the concert and then you have another plane in the morning. But then when I go home and have time off, that’s my way of relaxing.’
Adrien started learning the piano as a young child, then progressed quickly onto the violin, finally switching to the viola when he was 7 years old.
‘The switch came completely from the sound. I really fell in love with the sound of the viola, which has a great sensuality. For me it was great because I could play the violin and cello repertoire – and my own repertoire, of course! I could do what I wanted – if I wanted to play some Bach cello music, or a violin sonata, I could.’
Adrien remembers the precise moment when his love for the viola was sparked.
‘It was a concert that my mum took me to. It was the Schumann Piano Quintet, and there’s a big part for the viola, all on the C string. I can’t remember who was playing, but I remember wanting to play this instrument. It’s amazing that this guy has no idea that he changed my life, and it’s crazy to think that each time you play a concert you can actually change people’s lives – in many different ways of course – but the message you give to the audience, and the relation you have with the public is something beyond understanding.
‘That’s what you aim for – to touch people, and communicate with them in a way they’ll remember.’
Schumann: Adagio et Allegro en la bémol majeur – Adrien La Marca et Jonas Vitaud
‘Something Beyond Understanding’