VC Talks: an interview with Ryan Pereira, GLORY Int'l Music Competition prize winner


VirtuosoChannel Grand Prize, 2019
First Prize, GLORY Int'l Strings, Winds & Percussion Competition, 2019

In this series of interviews, we explore how some of the most talented and prize winning young classical musicians became interested in music, who are their musical idols, what they are working on at present, and what they strive to achieve in the future.

What year were you born?
I was born in 1994 and am currently 24 years old.

Do you come from a musical family?
My mom was a Music Education major (as a vocalist), and she happened to also learn the clarinet during her degree. This is how I got started with the clarinet in the first place.

My family is mostly made up of engineers, which has actually played a significant role in my musical career. In 2014, I launched a startup company manufacturing parts for the clarinet through 3D printing technology. I’ve learned about the technology over the course of a few years by simply living with my family. Eventually, I wanted to prototype designs for clarinet barrels with my knowledge of clarinet anatomy in addition to 3D manufacturing. Then, everything expanded from there. Little did I know, this would “blow up” and become a huge part of my career.

What was your earliest musical experience? 
One of the earliest classical musical experiences that sticks out to me the most was first listening to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, the Pathétique. To this day, it’s among my favorite symphonies of all time. I can remember the closing of the fourth movement and how haunting it was. After learning about how it may reflect Tchaikovsky’s impending death, it was a glass-shattering moment. The whole piece is absolutely brilliant, including the 2nd movement’s 5/4 meter which always kind of reminds me of a broken music box - also hauntingly beautiful.

Why did you choose to play the clarinet?
As I briefly mentioned before, my mom learned clarinet in college. She entered her undergraduate degree as a vocalist, but needed to take up an instrumental concentration as a requirement for her degree. She happened to choose the clarinet. She started off on an old Bundy plastic instrument and quickly invested in a professional Buffet R13 after enjoying her lessons so much (those professional instruments were also less than 1/5 of the cost that they are today). These instruments would become my first ever instrument and my first wooden instrument, respectively. In fact, she also marched with the Bundy clarinet in her college’s marching band on J. Birney Crum Stadium’s field in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Over 30 years later, she watched me march on the same field competing with my high school’s marching band using the very same instrument.

One day in the 4th grade, she put various wind instruments in front of me and I got to try out each. I got to try various brass and woodwind instruments that day, trying my hardest to get sounds to even come out. Something about the clarinet felt right and I was sure that I was going to learn this instrument since that day.

Who are your favorite composers and why?
My favorite composers are probably Debussy and Mahler. I have fond memories playing their orchestral works, which I think are absolutely brilliant. Playing their pieces in orchestra are possibly some of my happiest musical memories - particularly Debussy’s La Mer and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. However, I particular enjoy listening to Debussy’s piano works. That may be one of the few things I can put on at any point of day, in any mood, and I will always enjoy it.

Who are your musical idols?
It’s hard to list certain people that I would consider an idol, but I continuously draw inspiration from my clarinet teacher at the Boston Conservatory, Michael Norsworthy. Aside from being a great performer, his sound and expression are something anyone, whether a musician or not, can appreciate and learn from.

What is a perfect performer?
There really is no perfect performer. My clarinet instructor always says, “we’re all human.” Musical errors, performance anxiety, and other factors will always come into play, but a great performer needs to figure out how to play their best despite these issues.

What music are you mostly enjoying at the moment?
I’m not playing it at the moment, but I’ve always loved listening to Maurice Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin. I enjoy listening to the piano version just as much as the orchestrated version. I’m actually a big fan of many of Ravel’s works, such as his Piano Concerto in G Major, which I’m constantly trying to improve its Eb clarinet excerpts. I absolutely have a connection to Impressionist music. The melodies, chords, and use of instrumentation bring out colors that I am very drawn to.

What are the main influences in your music-making?
Influences come to me from anything. It can stem from hearing other musicians to listening to my teacher’s elaborate metaphors to looking at art pieces. Even my feelings during a particular day can have some impact on how I play a piece.

When you are performing, what are your thoughts?
A lot of the time, it’s along the lines of “don’t screw up this really hard run.” I tend to focus in and take things one musical section at a time.

Where do you study music and what are your future educational plans?
I am currently a Masters student at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. My degree will be finished this coming May. Following graduation, I do not plan to continue with schooling. I will be running a clarinet shop and continuing with my business as I continue with various performance opportunities. I also plan to develop a small private studio and build from what I’ve learned from Ithaca College during my Bachelor’s degree in Music Education.

What are your reasons to participate in music competitions?
Music competitions are important for growing musicians, in my opinion. While it is important to gain experience learning pieces and recording, it is just as important to receive feedback on the pieces we’ve spent hours and hours preparing. I’m honored to receive the competition’s Grand Prize, and it makes all of those practice room hours worth it.

What is your opinion about GLORY International Music Competition?
I think it’s a wonderful idea for musicians from around the world to submit their work through such an easy process. It is truly a great opportunity for musicians, particularly for those who are unable to travel far distances in order to compete.

When it is not music, what interests you? What is your favorite pastime?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, 3D printing is a huge interest of mine. Learning more things about the technology and the process each day is very interesting, and it’s incredibly fun to make anything you want, whether it’s a trumpet mouthpiece, a car part, or a working clock. Aside from that, I enjoy hanging out with close friends and coming home to my cat, Stella, at the end of a long day.

What book are you reading now?
While not necessarily about the bassoon or classical music, I’m reading The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson. Any fan of The Office will find this one worth their time.

What are the happiest moments in your life?
It’s not something I do anymore, but marching band in high school was perhaps one of the greatest times of my life. I developed such great friends, there was a real sense of camaraderie, we traveled often for competitions and games, and we always had that competitive spirit. However, to this day, I always go to the Drum Corps International show that comes to Allentown, PA each year. I always pull for the home Corps, The Cadets.

What things do you not like to do?
I don’t like to be bored. While having a lazy day once in a while can be absolutely necessary, staying in one spot all day doesn’t always work for me. I like to keep myself busy with things, whether that includes practicing the clarinet, going to the gym, or making sure the electric bill is paid on time.

What inspires you and what makes you sad?
My interests definitely inspire me, especially art. My friendships and connections always have an impact. I feel that if something is off between you and someone close to you, it can impact you both musically and in your overall lifestyle. The feeling of letting someone down is awful.

What are your strengths?
In my opinion, of my greatest strength would be looking at the “big picture” of things and planning meticulously.

What is your life motto?
I just want to be able to learn something new every day, whether it’s an important life lesson or something completely insignificant.

What is most important in life?
Do what you want to do. Life should be fulfilling, and with hard work (and some sacrifice), you’ll find a way to make your dream work. It’s also interesting that my dream has changed in some ways since 5 years ago, so I guess it’s important to listen to your own thoughts as time passes.

What is more important: talent or hard work?
Hard work is always key. I do believe that talent has a role in someone’s artistry, but hard work has to go with it to reach the lofty goals musicians typically set for themselves.

If today was the last day on earth, what would you do?
In general, I wouldn’t try to change much from my normal life. I probably wouldn’t go to class or deal with Boston traffic, but I’d definitely want to see those I care about most and enjoy music while I can.

Why does the universe exist?
That’s a loaded question, which I don’t necessarily have an answer to. However, while we’re here, we might as well find a way to be happy and have a nice time along the way.

Thank you very much for talking to us.