Costa Rican pianist plays free recital
At noon on Friday a renowned pianist will take the stage of Holsclaw Hall to perform a free recital for the students of the UA. Manuel Matarrita was born in Costa Rica and began tapping the keys of a piano at age 8. The encouragement he received from a childhood schoolteacher inspired him to continue playing the piano. He went on to play throughout primary and secondary school, eventually going to college for piano performance at the University of Costa Rica, where he is now employed as chair of the School of Music.
“I think that the key for me was that I started really, really young,” Matarrita said. “Piano was just part of my life. All throughout school I was playing very seriously, so when I was 16 or 17 I already knew that was what I was going to do with my life.”
Matarrita is a rarity in his home country of Costa Rica, as there are not many other active solo pianists in the country. He is also the only member of his family to ever pursue a career in music.
He can play a multitude of different styles of music, including classical, Spanish and many Latin American pieces. He will showcase music from Spain, including Mateo Albéniz’s “Sonata in D major,” Antonio Soler’s “Sonata in D minor,” two Spanish Dances and “Laments.” The pieces originate from the late Baroque period to the early 20th century.
These styles of music are also his favorite kind to play.
“I really like Spanish music and Latin American music,” Matarrita said. “Maybe because I grew up with it; it’s part of my culture.”
Manuel has dedicated most of his recent solo work and performances to Costa Rican, Spanish and Latin American music. He said he hopes that the audience members at his show walk away having heard pieces that they haven’t heard before.
According to Olman Alfaro, a graduate student in voice performance involved in bringing Matarrita to campus, Matarrita’s invitation to play at the UA was driven in part by the new “Never Settle” initiatives that the university has been enacting to expand the presence diversity and creative expression has in the campus experience. Part of the university’s vision, according to the “Never Settle” plan, is to “expand the student experience through engagement, advance knowledge through innovations in creative inquiry and collaboration and forge novel partnerships to positively impact our community.”
Matarrita will be putting on a master piano class for the public directly after his performance. Students will play well-known classical pieces from composers like Sebastian Bach and Frederic Chopin, and Matarrita will offer his expert insight and suggestions for improvement.
“Some UA professors have been in Costa Rica as visiting scholars in the past, so there is an active exchange between both schools,” added Olman Alfaro. “There are also five graduate students in the UA School of Music that have their undergrad degree from the University of Costa Rica.”
Matarrita also served as a judge in the Amelia Rieman Opera Competition, which took place last weekend in Tucson.