Terry B. Ewell, Interviewer
2018 Sept. 01. Granada, Spain
Terry B. Ewell: Well, I am so happy that I am here with Fábio Cury, who just gave a magnificent recital of seven of the Mignone’s Waltzes. We are in Granada, Spain, talking here just after his concert. Thank you so much for coming.
Fábio Cury: And thank you, Terry, I was very flattered that you came.
TBE: Oh, I was so interested to hear you play.
FC: I said that I learned to use circular breathing with your videos. Also I admired you so much.
TBE: Thank you.
FC: It is a pity that we didn’t have this opportunity before. Better later than never!
TBE: Yes, that is wonderful. You were the student learning circular breathing from my, but now you are the master! You do it so well and flawlessly.
FC: You know, recently I played bassoon in Laixi, China. A friend, Xi Li, a Chinese bassoonist who lives in Austria, in Vienna, did an arrangement. It was such a challenge. I was practicing that for more than four months. I was very nervous to play it. I am very happy that I have this. It was very challenging to do that.
TBE: (Circular breathing)—it lets you play these longer phrases and do other things that you couldn’t do before.
FC: It is another device, another item to help us.
TBE: Absolutely. So, please tell me what are you doing currently, what is your job, what is your position?
FC: Recently, I completed work with the orchestra. I was Principal Bassoon at the Opera House in São Paulo (Brazil). But I was a bit tired playing in the orchestra. It was good for a while, but I was planning that when I was 50 years old, I would leave the orchestra and dedicate myself exclusively to teaching. I have been a professor at São Paulo since 2002.
But you know that things in Brazil are sometimes very unstable. We have ups and downs. The Opera House was experiencing a good and stable period, and everything seemed to be in a good place. But suddenly we have a financial crisis that we are undergoing currently in Brazil. Then also, they started talking about firing people or reducing salaries. At that moment I felt that I wouldn’t have the energy to go through another crisis like that.
Although I was not 50 years old yet, I decided to anticipate this process. Also, at the University I was wondering when I was 50 years old there wouldn’t be the possibility to have a full-time contract. So, I was 47 last year, in spite of that I accelerated my plans. I have less money, but I am much happier. It was worth it.
TBE: So now you have a full-time contract?
FC: Yes. Now I am in the university. I have this full-time contract, so I took over some other responsibilities. I teach disciplines at the graduate level.
TBE: You have a Ph.D. That is unusual. I have one also, but that is unusual for bassoonists.
FC: Yes. I think it is unusual, but you know at São Paulo when I gained the position, I had a master’s degree. Initially they looked for someone with a doctorate, but if they don’t find someone then they open the position for someone with a master’s degree. But now a days, it is not allowed. If you don’t have the doctor’s degree you cannot have the position.
TBE: Where is your Ph.D. from?
FC: It is from the same university where I teach now.
TBE: What is the Ph.D. in?
FC: It is in musicology. Now we are starting to have more courses in performance too, but we still need a Ph.D. dissertation. Mine was about ** Guarneri Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra. As I was saying, besides that I am director of the Orchestra of the University. I am not conducting it, but I am a kind of manager, an executive director, and an artistic director. It is a kind of fusion of these. It was a surprise when this position was offered to me. My schedule is so full. Now I am in an accelerated rhythm of work. I am looking forward through this year, to the end of the year. Our summer vacation is in December and January. I am looking forward to have some vacation somewhere.
TBE: Very good. I was so impressed with your pianissimo playing. You have such good control and nuance and quality of sound. What is your secret?
FC: You know, I don’t have any secrets. I am very precise. I practice a lot; I like to practice. You know that well, when you are getting old, have administrative duties, or playing in the orchestra; we don’t have time to practice as long as we wish. But I am doing my best. I also set a minimum of practice time, three or four hours a day. I am not able to keep that all the time, but I am striving very hard to keep this discipline. When I am practicing, I emphasize these colors and doing my best to achieve that, to have a wide range of dynamics and also colors. It is a tough thing for bassoon, it is. I am glad that you could notice it, that it is somehow effective. I am investing a lot of time.
The students sometimes they ask me, “How do you have a good articulation or how to have a big sound?” Of course, we can use our experience, our teaching experience, and tell or indicate a lot of exercises, but, you know, there is no miracle. We have to sit down and to practice a lot.
TBE: I think that one of the keys is the way that you make your reeds also. They are very responsive. Tell me about how you adjust your reeds.
FC: I don’t consider myself a good reed maker. But I have to say that I have been improving over time. Now I am selecting more of the cane that I am using. Usually I am using mostly Danzi cane. I have been using Danzi cane since the time I started studying in Germany, a long time ago. Sometimes I have experiences with other cane, but I am always coming back to this cane. But I have this hardness tester. So that I am selecting this cane from the range 15-18. I am using a Rieger tip profiler. I think that the conjunction of selecting the cane and using this machine in the last years has helped me a lot, to save time.
TBE: Thank you so much for your time. It was great to meet you finally.
FC: It was my pleasure. I hope that we meet again. Thank you.
Copyright © 2018 by Terry B. Ewell. All rights reserved.