In the Meet Our Musicians series, Jellynote introduces you to the Creators behind the sheet music on our platform. Discover their musical style and get to know them!
“What’s your experience with music?” I ask 21-year old musician Angel Pérez, in my best, albeit broken, Spanish.
He laughs. And I suddenly question whether taking Spanish at university was a wise life choice.
“Well many things you talked not perfectly…”, he replies. I feel vindicated.
It dawns on me that the next hour may be a difficult one as the two of us try to navigate a conversation about his life experiences, relationship with music and plans for the future, using a mixture of Spanish and English (“Spanglish”, if you will), and complicated hand gestures. Despite the communication difficulties and the 4,865 miles which separate my home in the UK from his in Venezuela though, we do end up having an informative and interesting discussion about his life.
Angel’s initial passion for music didn’t stem from his family, as is usually the case, but rather from his religion.
“It was Christian music”, he tells me proudly, “I am a Christian. I was brought up in the Church. I used to listen to this music in the services.”
Check out Angel’s sheet music on his Creator profile page
Angel’s musical upbringing began at the tender age of six, when he embarked on his musical education, not in a prestigious music academy, he insists, but in an ordinary school, with ordinary teachers. His interest, however, was far from an ordinary’s student. He excelled at the keyboard and began learning the techniques that he would still be using 15 years later.
Throughout his later years of childhood, another religious force subsequently entered his life. Though rather than taking the shape of a holy trinity, this time it came in the form of the fab four a.k.a The Beatles.
Check out our list of Beatles songs to learn on the piano
At 14, however, as his relationship with music matured, as did his instrument, as he traded in his keyboard for a slightly more impressive and, let’s be honest, sexy piano.
“My parents sent me to a music school which was affiliated with one of the main universities in the country, where I had a more serious education in classical music,” he tells me.
It was at this school where Angel was exposed to new music – Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and lots of classical European composers. Being accustomed to playing the more melodic and simpler tunes of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, this was a challenge for him…but he thrived nonetheless.
His teenage rebellion came, not in the form of sex, drugs and rock & roll, but rather…jazz. At age 16, he moved to Caracas to study jazz at the National Experimental University of the Arts. Though he has expertise in many different styles of music, such as pop, rock and even Chinese pop, it’s clear that jazz has a very special place in his heart. When I ask him if jazz has replaced classical music as his musical preference, he replies with a resounding:
And despite being on a different continent, I can feel his passion reverberate through the air as he says this.
The pairing of piano and jazz was a match made in heaven, and Angel went on to become the main pianist of Venezuela Big Band Jazz for 3 years. For those of you who don’t know (I certainly didn’t), a Big Band is a type of musical ensemble of jazz music, that usually consists of 10 musicians or more musicians and four main instruments: saxophone, trumpets, trombones and the rhythm section.
Being one of our youngest music contributors, much of our conversation is about Angel’s future, rather his past. I can tell from the enthusiasm in his voice that he is excited for where he’s going. However, there are factors which make deciding his future more difficult. The political crisis in Venezuela has meant that, despite graduating this year with a BA in Piano Jazz (a round of applause, if you will), Angel has not found many opportunities, besides Jellynote and the music classes he offers, to share his music with the world. Concerts are rare and further education in his home country is just not an option.
“I want to go to a music academy in Venezuela, but there isn’t really one”, he tells me, “there have been severe cutbacks in the music education here. As a result, talented people leave the country and head to Europe.”
I ask him if he’s considered following in their footsteps, but he shakes his head.
“No.” He says firmly. “I would do an online course at a university – The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire – for example”
He pauses for a moment, struggling to tackle the pronunciation of “Birmingham”. Unfortunately, I am of no use. And after saying the word too many times, I begin to question everything I know about the English language. Anyway…
He has even considered summer courses in Paris, but there is something stopping him from taking the plunge and relocating to a different country, where he might be better suited to pursuing his passion.
He goes quiet for a moment, reflecting.
“I wouldn’t like to live outside of the country”, he states simply, “I love my country a lot.” I don’t press him.
It’s uncertain what will happen in Venezuela and there’s no point speculating (particularly because I do not have the political or historical knowledge to back up any assertion). What I am sure of, however, is that Angel’s passion and hard work must lead him on a bright and exciting musical adventure – whatever form it might take.
If you could have a dinner party with three musicians, dead or alive, who would they be?
Bach. I’d like to get to know him. To hear him play, ask him questions…it would be incredible!
Also Handel! I’m curious as to how he composed a Messiah, which lasts 2 hours in just three weeks. Also, we’re both Protestants, so we have a lot in common!
Finally, John Coltrane. I’d be interested in speaking to him, particularly at the end of his live. I’d ask him a lot about harmony, about his life and how he managed to improvise so well. It’s very impressive! What I like about him is that he is complex harmonies.
What song do you listen to when you’re happy?
Gospel music makes me happy. Probably something by Handel.
And when you’re sad?
Let’s see… I don’t really listen to music when I’m sad!
What’s your favourite “music memory”?
Let’s see…ah okay. When I started writing sheet music and doing transcriptions of songs. I’ve worked with two other companies, beside Jellynote. It means that during the pandemic, I have work and I can continue being a professional musician! I’m lucky.
Also, graduating from music school has been one of the most important moments in my life.