Majorca’s Fab Four prepare …
We have two Springs in Majorca: although it already feels as if summer was a long time ago, don’t be sad as the transition from summer to autumn in Majorca always brings with it new growth and beginnings. When we emerge from the heat it’s as if we all become reinvigorated with energy, and new projects and ideas begin. A new project is being launched next weekend when four very talented musicians: pianist and drummer, Jose Luis Castaño, guitarist and singer Arthur Hensen, violinist Seraphima Novitskaya and lead singer Rosa de Lima, will come together to play intimate gigs near to Portals Nous throughout the coming months.
The “Fab Four” have been performing together onstage at the Son Amar international dinner show in Palmanyola, just north of Palma, and they will continue to play together throughout the winter season there. But every Friday they will up sticks and decamp to Mood Beach in Costa D’en Blanes where they will perform a variety of different styles of music.
When I met up with this talented bunch earlier this week, they seemed very excited to be getting the opportunity to step off of the big stage and move into a more intimate venue at Mood. What can the people of Majorca expect from the new Fab Four on the blockJose Luis answers, “We’re working on arrangements with the voices, piano and violin. Duets with the voices and with the instruments. You can also use the violin as a third voice in the arrangements, it’s very interesting. We’re going to do some in an ‘unplugged’ acoustic style as well, something more mellow, more chill out. But then we also love rock, motown, jazz, soul, classical and rhythm and blues, so we have a lot to choose from.”
Pianist and drummer, Jose Luis was born in Barcelona, “but I feel very Majorcan since I have been living and working here since 2006”. It’s interesting to me how they all seem so natural about their talents, of course, they have been playing for as long as they can remember, but can they remember when their obsessions with music actually began? For Rosa it was a ‘no brainer’, “I have been singing since I was four years old. I made my professional debut when I was six on the Teatro Principal stage in Palma de Majorca. It was always going to be this way because my mother and father are musicians and teachers, so my brother and I followed in their footsteps.”
For Seraphima, her trajectory was just as clear and simple, “I picked up a violin at the age of six. I was born and raised in Krasnodar in Russia, my musical abilities were quickly recognised and I was educated in a conservatory and then I joined a symphony orchestra”.
For Arthur it took a little longer for him to find his full range, but when you meet him you can realise why as he is, very surprisingly, painfully shy offstage. I discover this and almost shout at him “YOU? You’re SHY?!” it doesn’t seem possible that someone who performs five or six nights a week in front of in excess of a thousand people every time can possibly be shy. But he is. Arthur was a guitarist first, then a singer. “I didn’t start singing until I was about sixteen. I was, still am, quite shy and I didn’t realise that I had this talent until other people started to hear me now and again. ‘You should sing!’ they would tell me, so eventually I did.” Arthur is still uncomfortable speaking about himself. When I point this out to him he agrees, and says “The stage is my salvation”. Onstage he looks as if he was born to be there, when you see him performing you would never believe that he is the same humble guy that I have in front of me in our interview.
But Jose Luis has the best story, “I remember when I was five years old hearing a marching band outside of my house, escaping and following them down the road, I was always stirred and fascinated by music. My mother had to come running down the road behind me as I was off with the band!” I ask him if he had to choose between careers, but no, “I have always felt like I was going to be a musician, I never had a doubt”.
In fact all of them have music in their very cores, and have moved continents in order to follow their dreams. Seraphima moved in 2006 from Russia to Spain, following the sun and her career path, and then in 2008 she moved to Majorca, joining Son Amar in 2013. She is a tall, beautiful, blond with incredible “ice maiden” eyes, and boy can she play the violin. When I ask her what musician does she love the most she instantly replies “David Garrett”. I admit I had to look him up afterwards as I had not heard of him, but he is a world famous, record breaking German pop and ‘crossover’ violinist and recording artist. “He inspires me” (and he is very well known for making the violin a more “accessible” instrument to the general public, now I begin to understand where Seraphima is coming from: originally a classical musician and now as comfortable playing rock as she is Mozart).
Rosa, who has often been described by Spanish journalists as the pride of Majorca, or the daughter of Majorca, was born and raised here. “I love all types of music from The Beatles to… to… Status Quo!” Rosa laughs and wrinkles up her nose as she says this. “But I’ve never had to make a choice about my career in music, it’s my life. I couldn’t imagine my day without singing. Performing for me is not a job, it’s who and how I am, and it’s my pleasure, my life.”
It’s obvious to me as I interview them how connected they are, playfully joking and sometimes even finishing each other’s sentences. They admire and care for each other, and I guess that is very important when you are performing together five or six days a week. I ask Jose Luis what qualities a musician must have to be successful. “You need to have patience,” he replies, “You must love what you do, you must be happy in the environment you work in: that is very important, you spend more time with your company than you do with your family.”
Jose Luis continues, “Rosa for example, is a very special professional, she can do anything. Working daily and giving the best performances, not even Celine Dion can do that. It’s not easy to find people who are able to work at this intensity and still deliver like she does. She is like a human jukebox! She knows hundreds of songs.” Rosa blushes, then nods and agrees “I can sing in Spanish, English, German, Italian, French, Russian and even Norwegian!”
Jose Luis continues, “They must love music, they must practice and go to school, and think carefully about what they want to do, and be sure. I always thought I could do it, I always felt confident”
Arthur agrees with him, “I remember having a conversation with the singer songwriter Gilbert O Sullivan, he said that even if you have buckets of talent, without the belief in yourself you won’t get anywhere”. Arthur, who is also a very experienced singing teacher, gives me advice about what a young person may look for if they wanted to develop a career in music. “Firstly, they have to have an ear. You need to be able to hear the note and match it with your voice. If you have that then you can build on technique. You have to listen to every style of music, and learn from it. Listen, sing, repeat. Listen, sing, repeat. And sing constantly, when you are young that is. The voice is a muscle, it needs to be exercised.”
I imagine that a lot of kids are forced into playing the violin by their parents, but in order for it to be successful “they must fall in love with music, they must have a special relationship with it”. And Seraphima agrees with Arthur and Jose Luis, “without confidence and belief in yourself you will really struggle to succeed.”
Finally I ask Arthur and Rosa what type of music they like to listen to when they aren’t working, “I like to listen to jazz, to fusion, old stuff, r and b, rock. Anything as long it’s good.” Rosa, his onstage partner agrees, “Yeah, as long as it’s good music I love it, it doesn’t matter what style it is, I just appreciate it when it moves me: makes me want to dance, to smile, to cry, and to feel!”
Friday Night Live starts at Mood Beach on Friday October 3rd. To reserve a table contact 971 676 456 http://www.moodbeach.com . Entrance is free.
By Vicki McLeod
Images by Aimee K Photography and Flixx Wedgewood Walker