Name: Christian-Pierre la Marca
Occupation: Cellist
Nationality: French
Current release: Christian-Pierre la Marca's Wonderful World is out October 22nd via Naïve Classiques.
Recommendations: Schumann: Diechterliebe by Fritz Wunderlich (DG) - one of my favorite composers performed by a legend.
Film «Woman» or «Human» by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. It is about the condition of women or human across the globe.

If you enjoyed this interview with Christian-Pierre la Marca and would like to know more about his work, visit his official homepage. He is also on Facebook, Instagram, and twitter.

When did you start playing your instrument, and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started with the piano as a principle of education. I came from a family of music lovers and it was as important as sports and school to play music.

Later on, I remember well, in 1989, my parents suggested that I play another instrument. At that time, it was the fall of Berlin’s wall with this famous moment where Rostropovich played in front of the wall for freedom. I was so impressed and amazed about the power of the instrument that I said quite naturally : «Can I try the cello?».

Then everything went quite fast.

For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?

It is true that to build your artistic identity, you need to follow first and have a model. I had several models, from my teachers first to Rostropovich, Isserlis, Mork, Shaffran, Rose …

I realized later that everything is in the way you build your music, from the form, agogic to the sentences. Music itself is the essence, the text most of the times gives you the solution. There are alway relationships between notes, harmonies … with a real sense to me if we are in tonal music. We try then to adapt our skills to serve the meaning and text.

How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?

Maybe we could say that our sound is one major part of our identity. Then there is the way your build from the text. Creativity would be - for me - how I adapt my sound, how do I choose it. It depends also on the period of music of course. But I would say that the perception of style is also a part of my creativity in a way.

Creativity for me is: how to find freedom within a related frame. And then there is «the moment» on stage where everything is possible.

What were some of your main challenges when starting out as an artist and in which way have they changed over the years?

One of the main challenges for me is to feel free on stage, to let go. It is something very difficult in front of many people. There is alway the will to keep control for so many reasons. But in the end, even the feeling of being free also passes through your control. So you can be only free in the meaning of what you play.

It is still something I’m working on, but now I often touch this sensation of freedom in concert. This sensation is a paradise to me, and also the reason why I want to search again.

As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first instrument?

Of course the more you learn more you want to use your skills! But the most difficult thing sometimes is to choose and to know what is the right expression. Sometimes it is clear, sometimes less!

It is true that when I discovered new tools of expression improving my technical abilities, I wanted to use them all the time! What’s most difficult is always to find a good balance.

Tell me about your instrument, please. How would you describe the relationship with it? What are its most important qualities and how do they influence the musical results, including your own performance?

I think the cello is a very communicative instrument. Its register gives you the impression it could be either a man or a woman speaking with you. This is quite rare with an instrument.

Of course the cello is very vocal and close to the human voice, but not only. It has this special expression as well which talks to you. And the register is to me very touching, human in a way. This is really a source of inspiration for me.

How would you describe your approach to interpretation? Where do you start and how do you develop your view on a piece, what are some of your principles and what constitutes a successful interpretation for you?

For me, the simple word interpretation is quite strange … Because I consider my mission to serve the composer.

I always start from the music itself and try to do as much as possible what’s written in the text. Our composers are the essence of our work and we serve them in order to present them in the best light to our audiences. I always try to be close to what I imagine is on their mind from the text perspective.

Then, depending on the period and composer, I always believe in the structure (form, sentences, sequences) and relationship with the harmony (tensions/releases). It’s a big part of my work, and the best guide to me.

Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives?

I believe collaborations are essential. Because you also learn different processes of creation and reaction. For me, it is also a way to share music with someone else, and that makes me really happy. It is also giving your perspectives and ideas on text.

I alway try to connect with artists for a repertoire in particular where I truly believe something can happen in the moment also. It is always a question of how you listen.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?

My life is changing constantly so it is difficult to describe. Sometimes I travel, sometimes not …

But I try to have first a routine for my sports sessions. I run and exercise regularly and it is really important for my body and mind. Then, I need always to focus on scales and sound every day to start. If I can, I try to start with sports early and then I practice my cello quite slowly with scales, a wake-up in a sense!

I then practice quite a long time: I really love to practice because I like to search, look for sounds, textures, always try to understand better, to listen more … I also have family time which is a big aspect of my life. it has to be separated because I need to be concentrated to work.

And there is also all administrative/computer work that I try to do when music is over. I also like to take time without the cello to think about music, meditate, work on myself, be in contact with nature: another important part of me.

Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?

I created recently a «Concert for the Plane », a collective of great artists (30), all playing together to draw attention and raise money for important ecological projects built by GoodPlanet Foundation (presided by the photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand). It was really a challenge to start from a simple idea, a dream and make it happen. During this concert, I felt everyone was free and so happy to share everything together.

We are in a society full of egos and based on image. We are at a moment of
humanity where we need to give sense to our lives. Doing things in that sense makes you happy. And It made sense to me: I felt useful, connected and so happy to have made that possible ! From this point onward, it has given me so much energy to continue and apply that in my search, my work.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

To be creative, you don’t need to think of being creative. I believe in that case you’ll be faking something …

It is more - to me - a question of being well prepared, physically and mentally. To have within your consciousness the full picture of your piece of music, and of course of your body. Then from everything prepared and thought in advance, there is a room for «the moment», this emotion coming through you which gives this extra sensation we are all looking for, as players and listeners.

Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?

I believe music is a reminder of our life. Every music is different but some music can be similar in terms of emotions. Emotions make us react in a different way, depending of our state of mind, our life at the moment we're listening … In that sense, it is always more your personal connection with music which make you feel (happy, sad, comfortable, strange…).

Knowing that, a lot is possible: from healing to hurting. Music can do so much … But to realize it, you need to know yourself first.

Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?

Everything is connected to me. What’s really interesting in music is actually our connection from our minds to our bodies. We always think that playing music has a lot to do with our mind! But there is a true relation between our sensations and our mind. These sensations (all of them from different senses) are giving our mind a way to realise our ideas. To be efficient, we need to be aware of all our senses.

Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?

For me, being an artist means being engaged.

In our days, we need to place the artist in the center of the societal debate. I believe people need art to be inspired and find their way. Art in general makes you think, feel … It is so powerful ! For instance music can makes you dance or put you in tears within 10 seconds! It makes you alive.

I believe, as an artist, that we can pass on messages, we have this power to make people aware of our world. My commitment had always been with nature and our environnement. My new project Wonderful World is an achievement in that sense, with a goal to force people to notice our environmental situation.

What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?

If words alone may not, it is going to be difficult ! (laughs) I truly believe music is a voice, a language itself. Everywhere I am in the world, music is a way of expression, for any situations in life (death being part of it).