Interview with Thomas Athanaselos (September 2018)
When did you start playing the guitar and why?
I started playing the classical guitar at the age of 11. My influence was a teacher I had at school who sang and played simple pieces on the instrument. Without second thoughts I told my parents that I wanted to start playing the guitar!
What did you study and what is your musical background?
I studied classical guitar at the Modern Conservatory of Larissa in the class of Theodoros Charos. I attended some postgraduate courses as well as seminars at guitar festivals. I was also involved in electric guitar and improvisation by taking the degree of RGT University of London. No one in my family had any particular relationship with music though I think they loved listening to me playing the guitar!
What were and are your main musical influences?
I admire and listen to many guitarists and musicians in general. George Benson is one of my loved ones, Pat Metheny, Robben Ford, Paco de Lucia, Al di Meola and many others and if I go a little back in time I was listening a lot to Steve Vai!! I’m listening to a lot of orchestral as well as classical music this time. Surely in all of this you can not miss the great Astor Piazzolla, whose music continues to influence the best musicians of all generations in the world!
How did start the idea for your first album “In Memoriam and how did you choose this repertoire? Your Piazzolla is really nice...
The idea existed a long time ago but I was looking for a theme that would make the album consist of a little story that could stimulate feelings and imagination. Piazzolla is one of my favorite composers.. I chose Piazzolla’s revolutionary music, full of colors and passion, extended harmonies and intense rhythms in association with the beautiful jazz standards transcribed for guitar by the great Roland Dyens and some of my own compositions coming as an epilogue.
What does mean improvisation in your music research? Can we go back to talking about improvisation in a repertoire so encoded as the classic or you’re forced to leave and turn to other repertoires, jazz, contemporary, etc.?
The real improvisation and not the premeditated phrases that we often recycle is the one that comes from our soul and our images and not from our mind. I believe this is what every artist is looking for and can fit it into every kind of music whether classical or jazz, etc. Again, if we go back in time, improvisation had existed since man began to create sounds and music.
What’s the role of the “Error” in your musical vision? For “error” I mean an incorrect procedure, an irregularity in the normal operation of a mechanism, a discontinuity on an otherwise uniform surface that can lead to new developments and unexpected surprises…
The ” error” always leads the musician to new paths, new techniques and sounds, making him increasingly discovering the world of music. In my opinion the only ‘error’ for a musician is to play without passion and energy and stay in the comfort zone.
And what do you think is the “function” of a moment of crisis?
This is the moment we really find ourselves and our limits.We have to improvise!!
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
Now I m working on new pieces of classical repertoire as well as and some new compositions. I have planned some concerts in the upcoming year and maybe and a new video.