In the Philippines, classical music is considered to be an upper-class phenomenon and it’s hard for the common man to relate to it. I’m brought up as most Filipinos drenched in pop music and when I arrived in Spain, my knowledge of the great classical music tradition in Europe was almost none. But when a friend of my husband, the Swedish flutist Per-Olov Sahl was our guest for two weeks lately I got an eye-opening insight of what culture is and the discipline and deep thoughts behind it.
Per-Olov Sahl plays mainly the flute, but he also brought with him from Sweden his classic guitar and his electrical piano. Just so that he could rehearse on all three instruments every day for hours on each one of them, can you imagine 🙂 This strong discipline fascinated me and is something we Filipinos have a lot to learn from, LOL
He was always up very early and to avoid disturbing us, he drove his car down to the beach to play flute for some hours. After breakfast, he played piano for hours using earphones and after dinner he played some hours on his guitar. I thought he was preparing for a big gig, but he was actually just honing his skills. He practices intensively seven to eight hours a day. He considers it a lifestyle; breathing and living music.
I asked him what he considered the biggest performance in his life and I was taken aback by his answer. His biggest performance ever was to be born—his way out from his mother´s womb and his first scream with a strong desire to survive. I couldn’t help but smile when the afterthought hit me.
While talking with him one day, he mentioned that music is an innocent language and something that we miss in our present rational lives, and he mentioned his fascination for birds. He explained that birds are telling more than our language can explain. They produce the kind of music that explains the mysteries of the universe. There are lots of universal symbols in music and he sees music as a way to feel, to behave and to understand the meaning of life.
According to Per-Olov, life should be more spontaneous. Animals have pure joy —they are playing a lot and their behaviors are pure. Humans are born separated from nature and we are trained to rule it instead of cooperate with it. As we mature, we don’t even know if everything is an illusion or govern by something on a much higher level than us, and music can take us up to that light if we understand the nature of classical music like Beethoven’s Destiny symphony.
No wonder that a man like Per-Olov is able to see the kind of magic our little town La Herradura exudes. The vibe of the place is easy to feel and it´s a very relaxing venue for artists.
I asked him what advice he would give to young musicians and he said: practice a lot, but don’t be pressured. Do it out of joy and not to be famous. Believe that music will lead you to something valuable, beyond materialism. Have a vision to help other people. Feel the energy of life. Develop yourself by understanding the universal truths hidden in the music and gain peace of mind.