At first glance, Alfredo Rodríguez comes through as a quiet, timid young man, but once seated in front of the piano, he morphs into a passionate artist who has complete dominance of the instrument as well as many of the musical idioms of our times.
The following is a conversation with this young, upcoming musician.
Rudy Mangual: Welcome to the City of Angels, Alfredo! Tell the readers a bit about yourself.
Alfredo Rodriguez: I was born and raised m Havana, Cuba, in a home where music was a dominant force, since my father (whose name is also Alfredo Rodríguez) was a popular singer and exponent of traditional Cuban music. My home was always permeated with music from all genres, even though my dad performed mainly boleros and other traditional Cuban music. Musicians paraded throughout the house daily, making for a very interesting upbringing.
RM: When did you start playing a musical instrument?
AR: By the age of five, I was already banging on everything in sight with a pair of pencils. I was obsessed with playing trap drums. My dad's musician friends advised him to consider taking me to audition at a music school, in order to gain the opportunity of pursuing a musical career. On my seventh birthday, I was tested and accepted into Havana's Manuel Saumell School of Music.
RM: What instrument did you learn to play?
AR: My options were either the piano of a string instrument, such as the violin, viola, cello, etc. No drums were available. So I selected the piano, with the hope of being able, later on, to switch to the drum set.
RM: So did you eventually switch over to the drums?
AR: No. At the age of ten, I switched to another instrument, but by then, my love and passion for the piano was complete, and I stayed with the piano.
RM: Did you dismiss drumming forever?
AR: No, drums and percussion in general are second on my list of favorite musical instruments, and eventually I did get familiar with most of them and have continued to enjoy their role in the formation of rhythms. Obviously, all instruments are special and unique in their own way and in the roles they play in the making of music. But to be able to excel and truly master any one instrument, total dedication and focus are necessary.
RM: Aside from your classical music education, what other genres have you studied?
AR: Growing up in Cuba, one is exposed to many genres and forms by simply walking down the street--you can hear everything from Afro-Cuban rhythms to...