Eliot - 'We cannot rebuild the music of the past'

‘We cannot rebuild the music of the past. We can only get inspired, open our minds and become richer.’ Eliot is in the fourth year of his Bachelor in harpsichord in the Early Music department and tells us about this programme at the Royal Conservatoire, improvising, playing together and his future career.

Eliot: ‘My background in music has various roots. I grew up in a town in the north of Spain, so I grew up playing the traditional bagpipe and traditional music. With traditional groups, I played at different festivities in different towns, and that’s how I started to earn some money. At the same moment, I was also playing piano in the conservatoire. And then somehow I started to play the baroque bagpipe, and that led me to study more baroque music. Because I was already playing a keyboard instrument, this led me to try the harpsichord, and then I realized that this was what I really wanted to focus on. It is a hard discipline, so you really have to love what you do.’

Freedom and improvising
‘The reason I wanted to study the harpsichord at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague was because the programme is very interesting, the Early Music department has very specific subjects and specialized teachers for everything. It has a strong fundament in style and interpretation. The philosophy here is that we cannot rebuild the music of the past. We can only get inspired, open our minds and become richer. We don’t have to reconstruct something as if it’s our duty. It is all about exploring and creating a framework, and that’s where the freedom comes from. I completely agree with this philosophy.’

Eliot: 'I am trying to find a way to improvise as they did in the past and try to find their resources and techniques.'

Improvising plays a great part in Eliot’s artistic focus. ‘Composing and improvising have always been in my life. I do a lot of research in historical improvisation and I have wonderful teachers about that. I am trying to find a way to improvise as they did in the past and try to find their resources and techniques. It is a very interesting topic to study, and it opens your mind. Out of this information, you have to come with your own ideas and techniques.’

Playing together
‘The atmosphere in the Early Music department is really nice. The teachers and students are all friendly and it is very easy to make friends here. It couldn’t be better. Students usually come with a very high level in baroque music, so it is very easy to make a group and play together on professional level. Students play in projects organised by the school. Two years ago, I participated in a project together with the Dance, Composition and Early Music department at the school’s annual Spring festival. We performed with dancers, contemporary composers and early music instruments all together, and that was a really nice experience. But I also organise projects by myself. I did a project with Bach cantatas, and organised a project with the Brandenburg concerti in the Nieuwe Kerk The Hague which was also recorded for the radio.’

‘It is important to have a strong network as an artist. Mostly, because you get inspired and you can inspire yourself. And the most important: you get to play together. Playing together is also always making a ‘compromise’, but only in a good way. Learning to ‘compromise’ is a very nice thing to do, it opens your mind a lot.’

Eliot: 'I prefer to not have an idea, but to just see what happens and what the future will bring. I like everything related to music.'

Future
The Royal Conservatoire helps students with their professional preparation. ‘It is not an easy thing: we live in a society with a lot of people, and a lot of good people everywhere. This year, we have a subject in which we learn about how to ‘sell’ ourselves, how to write a good cv, etcetera. You have to enter the ice with really good rhetorics.’

‘In preparing for your future, it also helps that the school has a lot of contacts around. You can give concerts and get to meet a lot of people. And also just being in the environment of the conservatoire is a preparation in itself. Showing myself to the world is not my main focus, but I am looking for ways to get something out of what I do, for example by putting my scores or recordings on some platforms. I never wait for someone to call me and say they have a gig for me, I’m sure that’s not how it works.’

We asked Eliot if he has plans or dreams for the future. ‘I prefer to not have an idea, but to just see what happens and what the future will bring. I like everything related to music. I don’t care if it is teaching, performing a solo recital, play in a group ... Anything that is related to music, I would like to do. I don’t have a choice.’

Interested? Go to our 'Apply now' pages for more information about the Royal Conservatoire and the Early Music Department.