Daniel Gauthier - Canadian Founder of Alliage Quintet - 07
About Daniel Gauthier
Canadian Daniel Gauthier has performed throughout the world as a concerto soloist and as soprano saxophonist with the internationally acclaimed group, Alliage Quintet. He founded this ensemble in 2004, and together they have recorded seven albums including several for SONY Classical. After studying in Montreal and Bordeaux, Daniel Gauthier completed his studies in Canada earning his doctoral degree. He has presented masterclasses in major European music capitals and has also served as a jury member in many international saxophone competitions. Daniel has been an elected member of the International Saxophone Committee, he held the first saxophone professorship in Germany and since 2003 has been teaching at the Cologne Faculty of Music. During Daniel’s recent tour with Alliage in Australia, I was able to catch up with him for an entertaining conversation full of laughs and insight. I am sure that you will appreciate his Canadian/French/German charm. Please enjoy this interview with Canadian saxophonist and founder of Alliage, Daniel Gauthier.
- I came to the saxophone in a completely different way.
- A music lesson was $3.
- I met Jean-Marie Londeix at a summer camp.
- I moved to France for one year.
- I was selling croissants during the day and in the evening learning Denisov by memory.
- I decided to go back to Canada and to maybe even quit the music.
- I got the job as the first saxophone professor in Germany.
- Three cultures are all part of my way to make music now.
- I was very focused on new music, contemporary music because Londeix was very forceful about that.
- We are musicians because we want to go on stage and not play in our living room for ourselves.
- It was not an option for me to repeat what other peoples have done.
- It’s more interesting for me to work in a group.
- Try to find what you are and what you want to do.
- Jean-Marie Londeix is the one who opened to a new dimension of the repertoire.
- If you have something to say, be patient enough to wait until that time comes, and it will happen.
- Touring with Sabine Meyer.
- I would like very much to get some original repertoire for the quintet.
Transcript of Podcast Interview with Daniel Gauthier.
Barry Cockcroft: I would love to know how you first got started.
Daniel Gauthier: Yes, I think it might be interesting because I have a completely different way if I compare to my colleagues in Europe. I came to the saxophone in a completely different way. I don’t know here in Australia how it is, but I began a little late with music. I began at 12. I was 12 in school. In the school in Canada, we had first one year with the recorder, a complete class on the recorder. It was of course horrible. Then we had the choice after that one year to choose to go on with music or to go to arts, painting and everything. Those who decided music learned a wind instrument. At that point, everyone gets in their hand an instrument, trumpet, clarinet.
Every class was a band. After two weeks, we were wind orchestra, but without a real teacher. The conductor, the teacher told us everything he knows, but he was the teacher for trumpet, trombone, clarinet, flute, he was no specialist. But, it was an exciting way to begin because we played together. We were in a group right at the beginning. The level, of course, I guess was not good, but we had big motivation because out of the best students, the teacher created a better orchestra which had a rehearsal on Saturdays. For the young musicians, it was a big challenge to try to get in that orchestra, which had more official concerts and some trips. It was a big motivation.
I managed to get in that orchestra. We learned from those who were in that orchestra longer than us, but a real teacher was challenging to find. I had the feeling that it was not enough because my brother was playing the piano and I saw that he had every week a lesson with a professional. I had a feeling that I should try to find a way to learn better. I was fortunate because I come from a tiny village, maybe 150 kilometres from Montreal. It was difficult to find a teacher there, but I was lucky because, in the city near my town, there was a music student who came back every weekend. He came home.
He studied saxophone and piano. He was a very, very, talented musician. He is now famous in Montreal as a very great jazz piano teacher. I had lessons from him. I can remember a lesson was $3, but he was already at a high level. He gave me big motivation, and he prepared me for the Conservatoire in Montreal. After maybe two years with him, I went to the audition for the entrance exam at the Conservatoire. I could study there. I don’t know how it is here in Australia, but in Montreal, the Conservatoire is similar to the system in France. There are children there, but there are also real students with bachelor, master.
Barry Cockcroft: It’s mixed based on the level of music, not on age.
Daniel Gauthier: Yes, yes, yes. That teacher was essential to me. The way he made music was a very natural way, but actually, he was not a real classical musician. He was more of a great studio musician playing the flute, clarinet, oboe and an excellent jazz player as well. He composed, arranged for big band and he was an outstanding musician, but in the classical side, he was not a real specialist. After a couple of years with him, I met Jean-Marie Londeix at a summer camp. He came to Canada. I think he came for many years. Each summer, he was in Canada for maybe six, seven years in a row. The contact with Jean-Marie Londeix opened a door to a new world. It was a shock in a very, very positive way. It took a very, very important part of my musical development.
Barry Cockcroft: At what point did you decide to move to France to study with him?
Daniel Gauthier: Quite early. I was 19. I moved to France for one year. Then there was the money problem. It was not possible for me to stay longer. It was a little sad for me, a little tricky, but I came back to Montreal with so much information, such a big bag of cultural information that Londeix gave me that I could work for two good years on that. He has a particular way to teach. I remember that almost every week we had to bring something new or every two weeks, but we never had, for example, a concert. We never prepared a piece to go on the stage to play the piece. It was a very, very fast process each time, okay, you do that on, then the next one and next one, so that you learn a lot. You have a lot in your head, but you have to take time after to… I don’t know how to say to, digérer.
Barry Cockcroft: To digest.
Daniel Gauthier: Digest that and to include all that information to your real playing. It took time. I think that it was not a bad situation at the end that I had two years alone to work on that. Then I went back to Bordeaux for one more year, and it was a completely different situation. I knew exactly what was coming and I was so well prepared with what Londeix wants from us. That second year was great because we could… I could understand. It was the right time and the proper preparation to work with him.
Barry Cockcroft: I had a similar story in some ways that in I went to France. I was age 20. I spent one year, and four years later, I went back for the second year. I could perhaps relate to that same idea that you need time to absorb the information and make it work for you. The first time, I was learning to play the saxophone, and the second time I was learning to play music.
Daniel Gauthier: Exactly. That’s what I mean. Exactly. Exactly right.
Barry Cockcroft: Taking time, not rushing even though, as you said, the music goes by so fast. If we don’t take the time to process the information, then it’s lost.
Daniel Gauthier: Absolutely right. That second year was for me so intense. The level of the class was very high. Very high. We were an outstanding group. We learned from each other and Londeix. I had the opportunity to stay one more year because the money was not a problem anymore. I got some help from Canada and Quebec, but I had the feeling that that year was so optimal, that it would be better to stop there. I went back to Canada after that second year.
Barry Cockcroft: Did you find something to do with all of these skills and this knowledge when you went back to Canada?
Daniel Gauthier: That was very difficult. That was very, very difficult in Canada. I must say as I came back, I had different jobs.
Barry Cockcroft: Outside of music?
Daniel Gauthier: Outside of music. I sold shoes. I sold croissants. For me, the next huge step, I sold CDs in a music store. It was close to me to the music business, but of course was not such a good situation to sell CDs from other people. Yes, it was not my CDs.
I make application for a competition, a prestigious national competition which is in Canada is significant in five rounds. The jury travels around Canada for the first three rounds, and we go all together I think two months later when they finished with that tour choosing the candidates for the two final rounds. We go in a city, every year in the different city. I decided to do that competition because I knew it would help me if I had the chance to win or to reach a good position. I had 12 pieces to play because it was five rounds and I sent the programme with Denisov and everything and all the repertoire, Desenclos and Frank Martin Ballad and everything, Saugé Sonatine.
I send it, and after I posted it, I realised that in the prospect, I read a little note that we have to play every piece by memory. It was too late to change anything. Indeed, I learned that complete repertoire, and for me especially Denisov was a big deal, but at that age, I was probably 22, 23. I don’t know anymore. It was the right time to do that. I was selling croissants during the day and in the evening learning Denisov by memory.
It happened that I won that competition, along with an outstanding violinist, Barry Shiffman, who was later a member of the St. Lawrence Quartet, a very famous quartet, very renowned musician. As I won that competition, I stopped to work on other jobs. There was a little prize money, a prize, but also some concerts. It was the real beginning for me. I had some teaching possibilities right and left, two hours here, two hours there.
Even there, it was not such an ideal situation. At some point, my teacher at the Conservatoire, my former teacher, was ill and they ask me to teach there. He retired, and they ask me to take the job. He had a full-time job, an outstanding job, but they changed the offer, and that was not such a great situation for me. At that time, I was doing a doctorate at the University of Montreal in new music with a conductor, who was a great conductor for new music and a saxophone teacher as well, but I had those two mentors.
At that time came the opportunity to go to Germany. I had to try to take that opportunity to teach at the Conservatoire and to make something out of it, but I was not convinced because mostly the saxophonists who study classical saxophone at a high level after they finished with studying, there’s nothing to do. As a teacher, if you teach somebody and you know that they won’t have the possibility to work in that specialty, it’s tough to be convinced. I tried to do the step to Germany to try and see how it would be because I know that Europe is cultural, it had a much, much, much better tradition in classical music.
Barry Cockcroft: Why Germany?
Daniel Gauthier: Actually, I did not choose. It could have been France, Spain, Italy. I was not looking for Germany especially, but in Bordeaux, you know that the class is always very international and at the same time as I studied there, there was Achim Rinke, a student from Germany. I met him 1990 at a Congress or something. He told me that he would quit his job because of a better one. He said to me, “Now, in Germany, there are not so many people who are qualified for that job. If you want, I can talk with my director and see what she says about that.”
She said, “Well, we will try to find somebody, some German saxophonist and if we are not happy with the level, we will ask you to come and try. You can show us what you are doing, and we will decide.” They gave me a call a couple of months later. They wanted to see what I do. I went there. I teach, and I played, and I got that job. But it was not exactly what I was expecting because, in my head, I thought it would be a kind of conservatoire like in France, where you have children, but the children in those conservatoires in France are very, very disciplined. Every year with exams. They have to work seriously; otherwise, they have to go.
I thought that it would be that kind of school where I can get even some older students, but it was not the case. In Germany, it’s a different system. It was a school where actually everyone who wants to, can learn music. There’s big financial help from the city, but the parents have to pay a lot as well. It’s not for free like in France, but you have to take everyone. It was difficult for me that beginning in Germany because I was in Stuttgart, in a city where the students were between seven years old and even 20, 21, but the children had a lot to do.
On Monday was the saxophone. On Tuesday was horse riding. On Wednesday was swimming. On Thursday was… The saxophone was, for many of them, one little thing, not so important. Because for me, saxophone, when I was young, was so important. I grow up, as I said, in a small village. We had nothing to do. As soon as I got that instrument in hand, I was focused on that. It was my problem that I had a problem to accept that those children didn’t take the music as seriously as I was expecting. I stayed there six years long, and I was at the point where I decided to go back to Canada and to maybe even quit the music.
Barry Cockcroft: Back to croissants?
Daniel Gauthier: No, no. Actually, no. I didn’t know what I would do, but that way to bring the music to children was not what I wanted to do. Then precisely at that time, I saw in the newspaper that there was a job announced and it was the first job for a professor of classical saxophone in Germany. Of course, many, many people applied, of course. I was so lucky that I got the job, but I must say that for all those years, those six years in Germany, I had not very much contact with the musical world. I was quite isolated and doing no concerts, almost none. It was a hard time for me, but I had good discipline to work and work and work and work, to be ready if the time would have come that I have to show what I can do. It happened, and I was ready, and that’s why I think I could get that job.
Barry Cockcroft: This was the University of Dortmund?
Daniel Gauthier: Yeah, of Detmold. It’s Hochschule Detmold, and Dortmund was the department of Detmold.
Barry Cockcroft: You were their first professor of saxophone, and the job was given essentially to a foreigner, not to a German?
Daniel Gauthier: Yes.
Barry Cockcroft: But perhaps the six years of living in Germany and language and culture, it must have helped.
Daniel Gauthier: Of course, if that job would have come earlier, probably I would not have been ready for it, not only the language but the culture as you said. After six years, I was more German.
Barry Cockcroft: So twice so far in your life… First, you moved to France as a student and secondly for work; you moved to Germany. Do you think to change your environment, changing your country, changing perhaps what is comfortable for you is an essential thing for a musician?
Daniel Gauthier: Yes, yes, yes. There’s no solution that you can say everyone should do like that, of course, but I’m quite sure that to quit a comfortable situation and to try something new to discover is good for the creativity because indeed, I have the feeling now … In Germany, they think that I am from the French school. They say, “I study with Gauthier because it’s the French school,” but if you say that to the French saxophonist, Gauthier French school, they are not so sure about that. I thought about that, and I think for me my way to play is a real blend between the roots that I have in North America because I played in conservatoire in Montreal for many years, I played big band. I was not only focused on classical.
I think that this experience of the North American way to play the saxophone with a bigger sound is in me still now. Then studying in France with a real tradition, going back to Marcel Mule with Londeix, it added a new dimension to my playing. I never studied in Germany, but I make music in Germany with German musicians, and that part gave me a lot as well, really a lot. I realise now that those three elements, which are different between France and Germany, it’s different. But those three cultures I think are all part of my way to make music now.
Barry Cockcroft: You have created a group that is unique not just in instrumentation, but in style. Is it possible that your idea of creating Alliage is because of your mix of cultures that you’ve had developing? Is it an outcome of a North American being able to play lots of different styles to strict France school to being in a country that’s a new culture for you? Mixing all those, almost made you come up with a new type of group.
Daniel Gauthier: It might be. It might be, but let me tell you a little how I came to that idea of that group. After studying with Londeix, I was very focused on new music, contemporary music because Londeix was very forceful about that. Many years after studying with him, I played almost only original literature, but it was not satisfying for me because I realise that when I play new music, I’m not so, so, so great. The original repertoire for a saxophone quartet, for example, Desenclos and so on, was… We had no motivation to play that.
I can remember a concert of Alliage without piano, Alliage Quartet at that time, where we played Glazunov and Alla and I don’t know what else, but after the concert, we realised that it was nothing special. We were not very good because the motivation was not there. Something was missing. Then I realised that I am an idiot. I understood, “Why do I do what somebody else wants me to do? Why not do what I want to do?”
It was clear to me that new music was not the music that I will bring on the stage. If I prepared a new piece, then I would have only one opportunity to play that, and I’d wait six months for the next opportunity. I wanted to go onstage. Why are we musicians? Typically it’s because we wanted to go on stage and not play in our living room for ourselves. That’s the sense of an artist. Even if I like very much new music, I must say people don’t know. They don’t see the saxophonist in the world. They think that I don’t support new music, but I encourage… I like very much new music, but I have a different approach to new music now with my students, for example.
Then playing the original repertoire, the tonal repertoire, Dubois and so on was not an option. In that time, I began to play with piano with Jane Eun Bae, my wife. It came that we had the idea to ask Sebastian because he’s a great musician to play with us and we played trios. We played Poulenc Trio. We played Glinka trio, Trio Pathétique and a couple of trios and we realised that it worked not bad. Then we had the idea to combine those two project, Alliage Quartet and with my pianist. We had a quintet. We realised how much the piano could change the way we play. It was such a revelation to understand how much only to have the piano, which is not a front instrument in that formation. Sometimes it’s difficult for people to accept that the piano is not always possible to hear really what the piano is doing, but to have that instrument with us in the group bring us to a different way to play.
We realised, “Okay, with that combination of instruments, we can try to do something.” What I wanted to do was to do something new. It was not an option for me to repeat what other peoples have done. It was not interesting for me to try to play Desenclos better than Londeix or anything done before. It was clear to me that I wanted to create something new because after you have done that, it’s you. It’s come from you, from yourself and you have a way to do that, which is much more engaged and convincing than if you take the music from somebody else. I mean the concept from somebody else. We understood quite fast that we were better realising our ideas. We were much better. It was a pleasant surprise, a good situation for us with that ensemble.
Barry Cockcroft: Do you think that the belief in yourself, you’ve chosen something you want to do, because of that, therefore, the audience can also get more from the music?
Daniel Gauthier: I am sure. I am sure about that. That’s a real point that you are touching on now because we are so convinced about that and we are so in. It is us. We are not trying to imitate another ensemble. It is our work, and it grows up all the time when we get new arrangements. I’m sure that the audience feels that. The reaction is always quite good I must say.
Barry Cockcroft: One noticeable difference is your group can attract huge audiences. You’re playing in the best concert halls that often saxophonists wouldn’t have the opportunity to play in because they can’t draw an audience playing newer music. It must be a great feeling to be able to play for 1,000 people, 2,000 people in a beautiful hall with great acoustics and you get that critical mass if you’ve got enough audience that you get these reactions where you start to get this positive effect in both directions. You must leave the stage feeling good.
Daniel Gauthier: It is a very good feeling. For me, it is a very good situation to be able to have a programme to play many times. Going back to Montreal or at the beginning in Germany, I remember we prepared a programme, and we played that one time, and it was done. I realise how much music grows up when we have the chance to play it many times in much different acoustics and many different situations. Mostly, we make recordings before we go on tour with the programme. It’s not the best situation, I must say, but today it is like that. You have to record a programme, and then you can propose it. Mostly we realised two years after that because we played that 40 times on the stage that we do not play at all as at the beginning when we made the recording, which is a fantastic thing for me to let the music grow up.
For example, an arrangement like the Firebird from Stravinsky needs the stage time to grow up. Even now… I don’t know how many times we played that, but even yesterday, Sabina told us tonight it was something different than two days ago. Yeah, two days ago especially was something different and we had a different way too because of the acoustic, because of the piano, because of the different instrument. It’s fantastic to have the possibility to react, to be free enough every night to try different things. That was what I wanted to do as I was young, to go onstage and to have the possibility to play. It is a very good feeling, and it is a good feeling knowing that we had prepared a better situation for the next generation.
I observe in Germany that the young saxophonists, for them now, it’s much easier than for me as I came to Germany. We have played in the most significant festivals, and they, and they don’t have to explain what is the classical saxophone. I’m pleased about that. I’m so glad for them that it will be a different way.
But working hard is never wrong. For me, I came a little late to what I wanted to do. I can remember as I was in Bordeaux there were some students from Spain or. Right after they were finished in Bordeaux, they got the perfect job that they wanted to have. For me, it was a little longer. I went back to Canada, then back to Germany, trying to find my place. I was a little older than my colleagues, but probably it had to be like that because now each time when I am on the stage, I realise how much chance I have had.
It is each time a great pleasure to be there. I have to add that it’s a great pleasure to have found the right musicians for that project because it’s a real, real chamber ensemble project. I never wanted to be more in the front than anybody else. It’s great to have the possibility to work on the equal musical level, and it’s a great feeling. When I was young, my idea was to become a soloist, but I realise quite fast that it’s more interesting for me to work in a group. You are not alone. You exchange and talking and exchanging; then you come to some ideas that you would never have alone. For me, of course, it’s the ideal way to make music.
Barry Cockcroft: It would seem Sabine Meyer would agree with that because she has been a soloist for many years. I think she had played with 300 orchestras or something as a soloist, but she’s now drawn, it seems, more to chamber music and the smaller things. I enjoyed in the concert last night particularly, although you’re all playing at the same time, often there was something smaller happening, perhaps clarinet and soprano sax doing something together and over we had tenor and baritone working together. You’re all at the same time, but smaller things were going on. I enjoyed that it like there were like two or three groups happening inside of one group. My impression of saxophone quartet traditionally is four equal voices playing together to make something larger, but I didn’t have that impression from the quintet. It was something else, something more extensive, but with smaller things as well. I found a lot of layers in the performance.
Daniel Gauthier: Especially with that programme with Sabine Meyer because, as you said, on that side, on soprano and clarinet, of course, we are a kind of team in the group. Physically, the tenor and the baritone on the other side of the stage are a group as well. Then there’s the communication between the musicians and between the groups as well. That’s right.
Barry Cockcroft: Then the poor alto all by himself in the middle.
Daniel Gauthier: He has to go from one to the other.
Barry Cockcroft: He needs a friend.
Daniel Gauthier: The piano brings us all together. That piano is the centre of the group. We all go to the piano and then it takes us together. It’s an essential function.
Barry Cockcroft: Is there perhaps one thing you could think of for a student who’s starting out with their studies, a piece of advice that might help them get through their studies?
Daniel Gauthier: What I do with my students, I try to give them the technical aspect as much as possible what they need and the technical aspect and the musical formation. For me, I think I teach more on the musical side, and it’s our way to reach the technique. I try to give them as much musical information as possible. When they have achieved that, once they have a proper foundation, I tell them, “Try to find what you are and what you want to do. Do not try to do what I did or what somebody else did. Try to find what you would like to do, and you will be the best in that way. Firstly, because you will be the only one at the beginning and, secondly because you will be so convincing. It will be you. You will not have to play a game. It will be you.” It’s the way to reach a high level, to do what you feel, but be creative and doesn’t be lazy by only taking what is already there.
Barry Cockcroft: Is improvising part of your music making?
Daniel Gauthier: Not anymore. It was never a big part, but as I told you, I played big band for many years and my friends of that time are now in Montreal. All, they are jazz musicians. Some of them are great jazz musicians. My best friend at the Conservatoire in Montreal, who came exactly in the same time as me, we went to Bordeaux together. That friend, François Theberge, is now a professor at the Conservatoire Supérieur in Paris for improvisation for jazz. All my friends of that time are jazz musicians. I had to choose at some point what I would do, jazz or classic because I was not talented enough to do both on the high level.
It’s too bad because actually if it had been possible, I would have done that because jazz music is for me is something great, but indeed I have not enough talent to do both on the level that I would like to. Then with the time, I was never a big improviser. I was not so good as my friends probably who decide to go that side. That’s why maybe I went onto the classical side. I feel that classical music was more me. No, since many years I have to say that I don’t improvise anymore, but I hope that my student will not see that as a limit. I hope that my students open to that aspect as well.
Barry Cockcroft: You’ve recorded quite a large number of albums. How important has recording been both to your career, but also for your musical development?
Daniel Gauthier: It’s a good question. It’s a good question. The first recording that we have made with Alliage Quintet… At that time, it was Alliage Quartet Plus Piano. We had not decided to change the name for the quintet, but the first recording was for us significant. It’s called Una Voce Poco Fa because we had not realised really what is our sound, what was the potential of our sound? We had the feeling that it’s something interesting, but as we got to the recording. We realised, “Oh, that’s our sound. There’s something there. There’s a potential.”
After that first CD, it went much faster. The preparation for the first CD was a lot of work and the second CD; we already had a new something clear in our head. After, it developed much, much faster. In that way, I would say it was vital for us, but in the other direction, I must say now the real reason why we are doing recordings is that it brings us to the stage. It is the best way to convince a promoter, to show what we are doing. It is, for me, to bring us to the stage because the stage is what we want to do.
Barry Cockcroft: If you just had one piece of music that you could play from now on, which piece would that be?
Daniel Gauthier: Probably something from Bach.
Barry Cockcroft: You’re not the first person to say that. Who is somebody who has contributed a lot to the world of the saxophone with whom you have had contact?
Daniel Gauthier: Of course, for me, the automatic answer would be Jean-Marie Londeix because he was so crucial for me in my development, but I think that he had a very central function in the change of the repertoire for the saxophone after Marcel Mule. I have the feeling that he is the one who opened to a new dimension of the repertoire.
Barry Cockcroft: If you just had one hour to practice, what would you do in that one hour?
Daniel Gauthier: Depends. I don’t know if you say that in English? Sound fetishist in German.
Barry Cockcroft: Sounds good.
Daniel Gauthier: What supports the music is the sound. If you don’t have the sound, the phrasing alone doesn’t mean anything. Sometimes I only sit and play and play notes. I improvise actually. I come back that I say entirely different thing than I just said, but I only turn around from up to down and try to find different sounds. Even sometimes it’s scales, but it’s not scales because I want to practise scales, but I try to optimise the sound and to find different sounds. I’m a sound man.
Barry Cockcroft: If we learn from our mistakes, is it okay to make mistakes?
Daniel Gauthier: Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Absolutely. Even if some mistakes are many years long.
Barry Cockcroft: Not just in music, right?
Daniel Gauthier: Right.
Barry Cockcroft: Last night, you had a big performance in front of a large audience in a beautiful hall. Is there something specific that you do before you walk onstage that helps you focus so that you can play at your best?
Daniel Gauthier: Not that much. I don’t have a ritual. I don’t play that much right before the concert. Some players need to warm up very heavily, blowing, blowing, blowing, blowing and baff on the stage. I’m quite quiet. It’s not a very interesting answer, but for me to find the reed, to see the position of the reed. It is for me a little tricky because the instrument always reacts differently in a small room than on the stage. That’s what I always try to find out, “Okay, if it sounds here like that in my very, very small room, it will be okay on the stage.” That’s what I always try to find. When I have the feeling in my mouth, that’s how it should be right to be able to play on the stage. Then I am very quiet, but if I don’t have the reed, the good material, I’m a little nervous. It’s crucial to me.
Barry Cockcroft: Is there one piece of advice you could give to your younger self who’s just starting out? What would you say back to yourself?
Daniel Gauthier: To myself? I would say to be patient. If you have the feeling that you have something to say, be patient enough to wait until that time comes, and it will happen. In that long process, sometimes you are not sure anymore if you are a musician or if you have something to give to the audience. If you feel that you have something to say, don’t doubt.
Barry Cockcroft: Don’t doubt yourself.
Daniel Gauthier: Don’t doubt. It might take times, but you will have the chance to say it.
Barry Cockcroft: Great. Are there any new projects coming up that you would like to share with us?
Daniel Gauthier: For us, as a quintet, it is very, very exciting. We realise in the last years that it is very exciting to work with guests. We had that programme with Sabine Meyer. We had a programme with a soprano, a singer; with a violin. It is always very, very interesting because it forced us to adapt our way to play, to change a little our way to play. It is what we want as musicians to always discover new ways to play, working with different new people is an excellent way to get larger in our colour palette.
Barry Cockcroft: Where can people find out more specifically about you? Is there a website that you update?
Daniel Gauthier: No.
Barry Cockcroft: Do you like social media?
Daniel Gauthier: No. I’m not good at that. I have a website that I created probably 15 years ago, and I never, never update it, but not one time. I’m not good at that. I’m old-fashioned.
Barry Cockcroft: Old school.
Daniel Gauthier: Old school, but very old.
Barry Cockcroft: People can write you a letter somewhere?
Daniel Gauthier: Of course, of course. It’s a pleasure to answer every letter.
Barry Cockcroft: The last thing is your contribution to music is extraordinary already, but I can’t help thinking that there’s more to come. What’s something that you might like to be working over the next 10, 20 years?
Daniel Gauthier: I must say that it would be important for me, I would like very much to get some original repertoire for the quintet. It sounds maybe a little arrogant, but I would not like to take that way that I would let a hundred composer write for us to at the end choose two good pieces that we want to play. It’s not the way that I would prefer to go. There are some composers that I would like very much to play, but they are very expensive. It’s a big problem. We don’t know now how we should resolve that problem, but it would be a real pleasure for me if we had three, four or five of those composers writing for us to have original music for that formation. It would be great, but it’s not so easy. We tried to get some help from the cultural found.
Because we are not known in the contemporary music scene, they think that we don’t have anything to do with contemporary music, and that’s why they don’t help us. It’s crazy because if we got a piece from a composer that we like, we would play that a hundred times. That I think is an excellent way to bring the people, a typical audience to new music. If we had a piece that we can include in every programme, it would be a fantastic situation, but now I have the feeling many times, the composer, they write for one concert, and it’s done. It would be played maybe ten years later because somebody else is interested. We have a different approach, but until now, we do not get help on that. We should get more active and work more on looking for help, and I’m sure we will find it.
Barry Cockcroft: Great. Thank you. Thank you for your time. We should go and enjoy some Melbourne sunshine.
Daniel Gauthier: Absolutely. I have here a big window, and I see the city, the Sun. It’s a great city, and we are so happy to be here. Thank you very much, Barry.