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Interview with Alejandro Clavijo, April 2024
Interview with Alejandro Clavijo, image 1
Although he hasn't released many recordings as yet, Spanish pianist/composer Alejandro Clavijo is a familiar name to many music artists and music fans all over the world. The founder of ReviewsNewAge.com, he has written many reviews and artist interviews and hosted a very impressive series of concerts in Spain. I have reviewed a couple of his single releases, most recently his arrangement of Gustav Holst's "The Planets, Op. 32: IV. Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity," and decided it was time for an interview. Enjoy!
KP: Hi Alejandro! How are you?
AC: Fine! Heartfelt thank you very much. What a privilege to be able to talk to you after so many years of friendship on the net!.
KP: I agree! Your new single is so beautiful, and I thought this would be a great time to do an interview! I recently reviewed your piano and orchestra arrangement of Gustav Holst's "The Planets, Op. 32: IV. Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity." What drew you to this piece?
AC: The melody. It has something in its notes and chords that has shaken me for many years. The suite of "The Planets" should be heard by everyone. It was "a pending task" - I had to make a piano arrangement of that piece of the score.

KP: I'm so glad you were able to make one of your dreams come true! Your brother, David Clavijo, did the orchestration for the single. Is this the first time you have collaborated with David on a musical project? (Please tell him I said "hi!")

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Click on album covers to
go to Kathy's reviews.
AC: I will give him a big hug for you!. David and I are very close musically. We tend to share opinions, tricks and experiences with every new release we each make. I have had the honor of collaborating on some of his projects with the piano.
KP: I have also reviewed a single of a solo piano piece you composed called "She Carries Her Own Light."If I remember correctly, that piece was inspired by your wife. Tells us a bit about it.
AC: It was the first piece I composed when I bought my first piano, about 20 years ago and was very influenced by the piano music of Philip Wesley, David Nevue, Jim Brickman and David Lanz. They were the first contemporary pianists I discovered thanks to you, Kathy!!!, to SkyFM radio (no longer exists) and to Whisperings Solo Piano Radio.

The piece is about describing with music the joy, strength and sweetness that Yolanda, my wife, has. It is a piece that I am very fond of. Not only for being my first composition, but also for being the first piece I played on an acoustic piano.
KP: Wow! I assumed you had been playing the piano most of your life!

What's coming up next for you (musically!)?
AC: I am very focused on the classical genre, as you can see. My latest publications are arrangements of Johann Sebastian Bach and Gustav Holst. It is a genre that forces me to keep working hard to improve my technique and my composition. It is a genre that I have always loved and that now, I think I can "play" with it, from the deepest respect.

I am listening very actively to Baroque composers at the moment.... Who will be next? Handel, Purcell, Scarlatti? Who knows?
KP: I really love a lot of Baroque music, too!

Although we have never met, we've been in contact for quite a few years - especially because of your website, ReviewsNewAge.com. I know the site is still online, but are you still doing a lot of reviews and interviews for it?
AC: It's something that continually "punishes" me, as I keep getting requests for reviews and interviews and it's something I want to do.

It's always exciting to receive artists' music for review. You discover some incredible gems!

We also achieved good milestones with the interviews. I fondly remember the interviews with Thomas Bergersen, David Lanz, Yanni and Mike Oldfield. There really was a lot of passion and time to achieve great things, like the concerts we organized in Spain.

Nine years ago, my life changed completely. Not only did my children arrive, but everything changed in the work environment as well. These are two facts that keep me very much away from ReviewsNewAge, especially because of my current job, which "steals" from me a lot of time to be able to dedicate to the web. I know that in the future I will resume it. That's why the website is still active. I will be back and strong!
KP: Life really can get in the way sometimes, but you will find a way! You were doing some important music-related work and I think that will always be there for you!

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Alejandro and Paul Cardall
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The Clavijo brothers and Chad Lawson.

You were hosting quite a few concerts in Spain with artists from all over the world. I know that most concerts were cancelled during the Covid pandemic. Have you started hosting them again? You had some really great line-ups: Chad Lawson, Will Ackerman, Rocky Fretz, and so many others!
AC: It was my change of work environment that caused me to "stop" everything related to ReviewsNewAge, including concerts.

But I can say with great pride and affection that, above all, I take with me the love and friendship of the musicians with whom I worked so much. David Lanz, Will Ackerman, Ralph Zurmuhle and, of course, Chad Lawson.... "Very guilty" that I took a chance on publishing my piano music. He encouraged me to keep going and gave me very good advice. To this day, I am still very closely associated with them.

Recently, I received an exciting visit from one of my most beloved artists, Paul Cardall. I love them all very much, and I appreciate that, despite having taken a break from ReviewsNewAge, I still have their support and affection. I know they will understand my hiatus from ReviewsNewAge, but they are also aware that someday, I will be back in the future.
KP: Oh yes, you are very much appreciated!

Have you played in many concerts yourself?
AC: No, only in some of the concerts I organized and for the people closest to me. It's something I regret now (damn stage fright!). For the time being, I will continue to work hard and prepare myself. In parallel, I am working on overcoming stage fright.
KP: Oh, believe me! I can completely relate to that! That's why I majored in art in college. I played in recitals with my students, but the stage fright never went away enough that I felt comfortable or relaxed performing.

Have you released any albums yet or just singles?
AC: At the moment, they are only singles. However, I am thinking of releasing an album with my classical music arrangements when I have more music released.
KP: That would be fun!

Okay, let's backtrack a bit and get to know you! Where were you born and where did you grow up?

AC: Well, I was born in Seville. They say it is one of the most historic and beautiful cities in the world. It is located in Andalusia, a region very dear to many.

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Alejandro and Yolanda
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I grew up halfway between Alcalá de Guadaíra and La Puebla de Cazalla, two towns in the province of Seville, and I am currently based in Dos Hermanas, the second largest city in the province of Seville.
KP: How many brothers and sisters do you have? I know David is a musician, too, but is anyone else in your family a musician?
AC: Well, there are only two of us. David and I, twin brothers.

The love for music came to us thanks to our uncle, Pedro Clavijo, who was part of a musical group, where he played the keyboard and the guitar, and of course, thanks to our father, Jerónimo Clavijo, who introduced us to classical music, blues and jazz. Those were the genres he played on the radio when my brother and I were studying in high school.
KP: When did you start getting interested in music? Did you take piano lessons from an early age?
AC: I started playing the keyboard when I was 13 years old, but it wasn't until 20 years ago that I was able to buy my acoustic piano and take lessons. I studied the elementary part (I remember a lot of Hanon and Schmitt) and later, I learned everything by listening and practicing.
KP: When did you write your first piece of music?

AC: Well, it was 20 years ago - "She Carries Her Own Light" - and it was in my memory during that time. I also kept the recording so I wouldn't forget it. Two years ago, I decided to record it and publish it.

I also released a recording (it doesn't have good sound) of an arrangement I did on a very old piano of the main theme of the movie Home Alone, "Somewhere in My Memory" by John Williams (I love that movie!). These two pieces were my first compositions.
KP: Interesting! Do you play other instruments?
AC: I used to play the guitar, but I put it aside for the piano. Last year, Yolanda gave me a violin and I think it is the most complicated instrument there is. I don't rule out taking lessons to be able to get some interesting melodies out of it. The violin has a very powerful sound, I love it. It is an instrument that I would love to know how to play.
KP: Is your career in music, or do you do something else for a living? It's a tough business and all of the world-wide health issues haven't made it any easier!
AC: Music is a hobby for me, a passion that I cannot get rid of. I love it with all my strength. Music makes me cry, I love it. It is an art that touches me very deeply, but I have always been very aware that it is very complicated to make a living from music. It is necessary in most cases to sacrifice personal life (family) in order to have a good economic support.

I have always thought that our destiny is to be born, grow, reproduce and die, but on that journey, it is necessary to enjoy the path of growing up and seeing your children grow. I couldn't live without them.

I currently work for a great company that allows me to have just enough time to enjoy my family and create music. I wish I had more time for other things, but my priorities are covered.
KP: Who and what are some of your musical influences?

AC: Of course, the classical composers, especially: Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, Händel, Holst, Puccini, Schubert, Strauss, Scarlatti, Liszt... And if you ask me about contemporary musicians, I'll stick with John Williams and all the pianists who discovered the solo piano genre for me: David Lanz, Chad Lawson, Paul Cardall, Yanni, Yiruma, Philip Wesley, and David Nevue.

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Alejandro and David Lanz
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Alejandro, Yolanda, and one of Alejandro's creations
KP: Have you done any composing for films or television?
AC: No, never. In fact, I have never considered having my music played on TV.
I would be lying if I said that I make music just for myself, but until now it has been like that, to find myself better. I am not very immersed in data and streaming data. In fact, you will see that I do not usually do in-depth marketing of my music once it is released. I don't usually promote it (I don't know if it's correct or not), but I only make several announcements about the launch and then, nothing more.
If you like my music, welcome; if you don't like it, I am always willing to receive constructive criticism. That makes you grow and improve.
KP: What has been your most exciting musical experience so far?
AC: Seeing my brother David grow as musician. As a brother, it is the best thing I have ever felt.

And of course, all the experiences I've had with David Lanz, Chad Lawson, Will Ackerman, Rocky Fretz, Suzanne Ciani, Ralph Zurmuhle, Paul Cardall... Having worked with them and sharing experiences with them is something that I will never forget. I love them and they know it.
KP: Who are some of your favorite composers?
AC: The classical composers, no doubt. The other day I was having a conversation about composers (the now and then) with the director of the choir where I sing as a tenor.

He said: "Music stopped being an art the moment it became a part of entertainment." And he was right.

Baroque composers made art. Their works are very complex, pure mathematics. There was a lot of study and months of work behind it to deliver a Requiem, a Canon... Currently, the closest thing to it is film music, but in the end, all composers "drink" from the great classic composers.

Currently, there is very beautiful, catchy music, but nothing complex in terms of composition. I have not found any current composer (only until the 20th century) who has created music with the complexity and beauty of Mozart or Bach. But this is my humble opinion.
KP: Hmmm. That's a topic for another discussion!

Do you have any hobbies?
AC: Well, I have two hobbies, besides music and the piano.

Recently, I became part of the "Regina Coeli" choir, where I have a Tenor role. I ventured into this new experience for two compelling reasons: first, because my daughter asked me to (I can't say she didn't do that) and to overcome my stage fright (like shock therapy).

I am really enjoying this new experience and I have to thank my Choir Director, Nicolás Barbero, for the opportunity he is giving me not only to overcome my fears, but also to learn every day.

Another of my hobbies is robotics. Anyone who knows me knows it. In fact, it is part of my work. I am surrounded by cables and computers daily. Programming is one of my passions.

KP: What do you like to do in your free time?

AC: Free time? What is that?!! hahaha. It's a joke!

I like to spend time with my family. That is the greatest treasure that we all have and we have to take advantage of it.

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KP: If you could have any three wishes, what would they be?

AC: Three wishes?

I want Health and Happiness for everyone. Having these two is a sign that everything is fine.
KP: Is there anything else you'd like to "talk" about?
AC: It is already an honor for me to do this interview with you, Kathy. Many years of conversations and friendship have passed and I really wanted to talk to you. I don't know if we left anything else out, but I am open to answering as many questions as necessary. It is very pleasant and exciting for me.

KP: It's been fun, Alejandro! We'll do it again in a few years and see what happens then!
Many thanks to Alejandro Clavijo for taking the time to do this interview! To find out more about Alejandro and his music, be sure to visit his website and his Artist Page here on MainlyPiano.com!
Kathy Parsons
April 2024