Who is Aurélien Pascal, the revelation instrumental soloist of Victories of Classical Music 2023?

Cellist Aurélien Pascal was nominated in the “revelation, instrumental soloist” category of the 2023 Victoires de la musique Classique. He studied at the CNSMDP with Philippe Müller and has worked on his instrument notably with János Starker in Paris, Basel and Bloomington. He is currently studying with Frans Helmerson and Gary Hoffman at the Kronberg Academy in Germany. Winner of several international competitions, the young musician distinguished himself as a soloist with prestigious orchestras in France and abroad, as a chamber and recital musician and as a guest at many festivals.

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France Musique: How did you come to the cello? Is it your first choice?

No, it’s not my first choice. To be honest, I started with the violin and piano very young and quickly lost interest in the violin. On the other hand, I immediately felt an affinity for the cello. What I love is the fact of sitting and surrounding the instrument, this closeness of the body. You really feel the vibe, I feel like I’m one with my cello. It’s also very sensual. It was this direct connection that first led me to the repertoire, which I discovered especially by listening to records.

You come from a family of musicians…

There has always been music in the house, ever since I was born. Therefore, the passage to the instrument is very natural. It’s a bit like a second language. There are Schubert, Brahms, Chopin that we listen to as a family. There were my father’s students, the music was always present. Besides that, with my violinist brother and pianist father, we still play together a lot.

Do you have any role models among musicians?

I grew up on the model of Hungarian musicians, like János Starker with whom my parents were very close. I did a lot of masterclasses with him, I listened to his records when I was younger. Of course after that, there are other models. I can’t name them all, it would take too long.

Do you have a particular composer you’d like to meet?

Mozart for example, with whom I would like to share a nice dinner, that would be nice.

How do you work your instrument?

The cello is quite a physical instrument, you can’t work ten hours a day. So you have to be very focused. You have to work on your technique all the time, you have to always be on top. There is also a repertoire that you should try to expand, and listen to a lot of things. I try to push myself at work, but I have to be varied. I can’t stay in one style of music. For example, I played the Schubert trio for a while and it finally gave me a headache. We finally got fed up. I try to draw from all my instrument repertoire, from Bach or Boccherini, to romantic composers up to the 20th century. I try to be volatile.

Are you more of a soloist, chamber musician, or orchestral musician in spirit?

I’m more of a soloist, but that’s a consequence of my background too. I need music in my life, whether it’s shared by five or a hundred or alone, it doesn’t matter. Now I have to find my voice. It’s true that an orchestra is like wiping out your voice for the collective good, that’s another profession.

Why did you choose to go professional?

The decision to dedicate myself to it 100% came when I was still in high school, when I entered the Paris Conservatory, it became very clear. We immediately took a shower. It’s a straight line, there’s really no turning back. It’s true, I hesitated a little before the baccalaureate to look for other options, but in the end I think it was always pretty clear that it would stay that way.

Do you think you can do anything else?

It’s a teenage fantasy, I can’t say seriously. Travel has always been an important motivation for doing this work, as has the possibility of meeting different audiences, different cultures. There is a nomadic side to traveling that has always intrigued me. Fortunately, being a concert performer allows for both: making the music you love and traveling long distances.

What place do you think today’s musicians have in society?

There are many ways to be a musician today, but we all agree on the fact of bringing emotion to the public, uplifting the soul, which may seem presumptuous, but lives with emotions that cannot necessarily be expressed. It is very important for communication in society, I hope to contribute in my small scale. When I meet people who have been touched by my concerts, I feel useful. It’s also a way of bringing people together. Bringing people together also means advancing social issues, it is the foundation of communication.

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