Andrea Oliva, Artist Interview
Andrea Oliva is the Principal flute of the Accademia nazionale di Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome and Professor at CSI Lugano Music University, Switzerland. He was awarded the first prize at the Kobe International Flute Competition (2005) and the third prize at the ARD Munich (2004). He studied with Betti, Montafia, Cambursano, Gérard, and Sir Galway. Invited as principal flute by the Berlin Philharmonic, at the age of 23 during his Karajan Academy period, he has been conducted by Abbado, Jansons, Oramo. He also performs regularly with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Oliva has performed as a soloist with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia Orchestra under the conduction of Hogwood, Chung, Pappano (Nielsen Concerto), Honeck (Italian premiere of Dalbavie Concerto). He plays chamber music with Lonquich, Pace, Hewitt, Loro, Leonardi, Bandini, Sir Galway. He is a member of the Quintetto di Fiati Santa Cecilia and Concert Gebow and I Cameristi di Santa Cecilia. As soloist and teacher, he is invited by many flute festivals in China, Taiwan, Japan, Chorea, Malaysia, USA, UK, Slovenia, Germany, Italy. He has recorded CDs for the labels ARTS, Chant de Linos, VDM, Hyperion, Decca, and Sony.
How has the Pandemic affected your career?
I confess that I had a beautiful year of rest and meditation about all my projects, old and new, and about my career and life in general. This compulsory stop for me was very useful and I tried to make the best of my free time. Reading, practicing, rest, projecting new works projects… was a unique occasion to reconsider all aspects of my life. I can say that 2020 for me was, in the end, a good year.
What creative ways have you focused on to combat the challenges brought forward by the pandemic?
I recorded some funny videos with music, not only classical, and I launched some challenges on a famous theme (Memory theme or Harry Potter theme, for example) on Instagram and Facebook. It was fun and I received a lot of nice video answers from my followers.
I also recorded many practice tips and played some orchestral excerpts. I also taught many online lessons for my students and met future students with a first ‘contact’.
I also created together with my friend, Salvatore Lombardi (Falaut Magazine and Festival), two international competitions to help with scholarships and various prizes for the young gifted students. We dedicated one of the competitions to my first teacher who unfortunately passed in 2020. And so the “Concorso per Borse di studio Gabriele Betti” was launched. The other competition is dedicated to the memory of the great Maestro Conrad Klemm. So now we have also the “Concorso per borse di studio C. Klemm”. One is in Modena, my city and where Betti taught me, and the other one is in Lugano where Klemm lived in the last years and where I teach now.
What does your schedule look like for the next six months?
Oh, my schedule is always very busy. I stop in August this year to take time and spend it with my girlfriend for some holiday (last summer we did nothing). I’m planning some workweeks thru 2024… I’m used to being completely full. As I love my work, I overbook my agenda too much! I have concerts with orchestra and recitals with piano, guitar and with my wind quintet and I’m on the jury of the 2 competitions I told you about before. Then I will teach my annual courses (not only in Lugano but also in Modena, Imola, Rome and Manchester) and also for some masterclasses that I booked.
What are your goals personally?
I want to select more real friends over false friends. I don’t have time to waste time in unimportant questions and persons. I want to stay closer to my girlfriend and parents. The family and the people I like to have near to me deserve more of my time.
I’m trying to select just the most important jobs people offer me, and I want to work less and smarter in the future. I know my agenda will always be full, but hopefully doing more things that I love.
What inspires you the most in life?
For flute music, my big inspiration is always Sir James Galway. I have always tried to imitate his brilliant way of playing, his vibrato and his general vitality in music, searching for the light and life in the sound. I had the privilege to study with him and still now I always learn about flute and life from him.
Then I try to stay curious about a lot of things, and I like keeping my mind always active, not only focusing on music.
What has been your greatest challenge?
For sure, doing the two big competitions I did in 2004 and 2005, ARD Munich and Kobe Competitions, were my greatest challenges. This kind of competition is hard to do when you are 25/26 years old and already with a fixed-job. Practicing while working was hard, but it was a personal challenge that I’m so happy to have succeeded in getting 3rd prize at ARD and 1st prize in Kobe a year later.
What is the most exciting thing in your life right now?
What is most exciting in my life is playing music that I like—the possibility to create a recital or concerts program with music that only I want to play. I have a very wonderful and understanding partner, my girlfriend, Clementina. She supports and understands me and my choices. Now I also have a beautiful puppy dog, Cooper (like the great headjoint maker), who completes our life with a lot of love and fun.
What are you completely bored with right now?
I am bored with the corona rules and bureaucracy, and with this mask they make us wear… I hate that. I hope that this crazy period finishes soon for our humanity.
One habit you wish you could break?
I want to break my habit of eating too many sweets! :) I am trying to do a diet… I hope to keep going with that. I will also start a regular fitness program, with swimming pool exercises most of all.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
To be present in 2 places at the same time, so I can accept all the masterclass that many people offer to me and several times I have to reject XD.
What is one thing you wish you knew at 19?
That I can do things even without feeling like I need to be 100% prepared, at that age, I never felt prepared enough, according to me, to do a lot of things, and so I lost several occasions to play or to participate in competitions at the ideal moments. We must have the courage to jump into something even if we feel we don’t feel like it is good for us, practicing a lot to obtain a good result, winning the fear that sometimes accompanies us in the young years of our studies.