Oct. 03, 2012 - Issue #885: Fall Style 2012
One year after picking up the guitar, French six-string virtuoso Thomas Viloteau took the stage in front of 200 people. Today, he is recognized worldwide as one of the finest classical players, having been awarded top prize at the Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) International Competition and the Francisco Terrega Competition, two of the industry's most prestigious honours.
Viloteau began studying the guitar at age 12, which might seem late for an internationally recognized musician, but it does not appear to have been a disadvantage.
Viloteau's parents are fine arts enthusiasts, and he recalls falling asleep to musical compositions such as the "Symphony No. 1" by Jean Sibelius when he was very young, or coming home to his father playing Vivaldi on the violin, which he tried to teach Viloteau without success. When his parents decided to enroll him in music lessons in their hometown of Point-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, Viloteau gravitated to the guitar.
"Guitar seemed like a cool object to have at the time, so I told them I wanted to learn to play it. I mostly just wanted the actual guitar and didn't really think that I would be able to play it," says Viloteau, who is now working on an English translation of a book about practice habits and technique.
Turns out Viloteau could play guitar, and play it well. He notes that his brief foray into learning the violin made him understand the way a guitar's fretboard worked.
"I just remember thinking, 'Oh, then it's easy. All you have to do is put the right finger in the right fret.' I guess it was the right approach," he says. "I think I just loved it and never felt like it was difficult, so I was spending an hour a day, on average, playing when I was 12. It's more than most beginners. Now, to keep a good level, I need four to five hours a day."
Viloteau didn't set out to be a professional musician, but things started to snowball little by little. He began moving to work with good teachers, practising seven to eight hours a day and then winning competition accolades, along with the records that come with winning. Albums released on Naxos Records in particular were an inspiration to Viloteau, and when he won the GFA, he was able to record his own with the label.
"It always seemed like the highest possible achievement to me. It was sort of my goal for a while when I was young," Viloteau says, adding that his win at the Terrega competition last month has allowed him to do a second Naxos recording. "I have learned since then to be more focused on the music I am playing than on winning prizes, and I think it is the only way for me to even conceive a whole life spent playing the guitar. I view competitions as very useful, but they shouldn't be a goal in themselves."
Fri, Oct 5 (9 pm)
Presented by the Edmonton
Classical Guitar Society
Muttart Hall, $25, $20 students, seniors and ECGS members
vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
Vue respects your privacy. We will not forward your personal information to any other organization except as required by law, and will use your e-mail address only to respond to your comments. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments for length, clarity and/or if they are illegal or inappropriate. Your email address is never shown to visitors to vueweekly.com. Read the whole policy at: http://vueweekly.com/privacy