|Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero is a whiz at the ivories|
Here she is riffing off of Bach's Goldberg Variations:
|She likes to connect with the audience with improvisation|
"Just because I'm good at it doesn't mean I like it," she said. It took her years to reconcile with her talent and also the fact that she was a single mother meant that she had to use her skills as a musician to support her family.
Now she seems very happy to be making music on her own terms, and using it has a platform to speak out about her home country that is falling apart due to the corrupt government, with people starving from not being able to get access to food.
In 2011 she wrote Ex Patria as an emotional musical picture of what is going on in Venezuela, and while she has performed it 10 times, including a recording, she hopes she doesn't have to play it again.
The following year Amnesty International made her an honorary consul, where she uses the position to talk about Venezuela, and she is now basically in self-imposed exile; if she were to return, she says she would be put in jail. She now lives in Barcelona with her husband and two daughters.
But back to the improvisation -- I hummed her Teresa Teng's famous song, The Moon Represents My Heart.
She played what I hummed perfectly on the piano, dabbled a bit with it and then began to play. And watching her riff off the phrase in various styles was amazing. We were just spellbound watching her play.
After she finished, she said that when she improvises, it has to be recorded because she cannot play it exactly the same again -- the music flows through her onto the keys and once it's over, that's it.
Montero seems at peace with her spellbinding talent, probably thanks to age and having tried to quit twice and then coming to terms with it, but also determined to use it the way she wants to.
She has a warm spirit and eager to share her music with everyone.