What is your favorite genre of music? Among many genres, have you ever felt the heat of Latin music, which is characterized by various rhythms? The Sookmyung Times met Nilko Andreas, Colombia's classical guitarist who promotes the charm of Colombian and Latin music traveling all around the world. He also gave a lecture on Colombian music at Sookmyung Women's University on October 27, 2021. Let's hear more about his story as an artist.
Before our interview begins, please introduce yourself and your work to our readers.
Hello, everyone, my name is Nilko Andreas. I'm a classical guitarist and a composer living in NY for 20 years. I was born in Bogota, Colombia and I have been touring all over the world sharing the beauty of music and also exploring Latin American music and culture. I have been a cultural ambassador of Latin American culture.
You recently visited Sookmyung Women's University and gave a lecture on Colombian and Latin music. Please tell us how you feel after the lecture.
I loved the lecture I gave because the students and audience in general were very receptive to learning about my own culture and Latin American classical music. It was great to have been received with such warmth and pleasure by the students and teachers.
What are the biggest attractions of Colombian and Latin music that you want to let people know about?
I think one of the most special aspects of Latin American and Colombian music is the incredible number of different influences that create our music since they are a hybrid of three main cultures: European, African, and Native American. Being able to share that experience makes me very happy because the world deserves to know about the hidden richness of our transcendental and millenary culture.
You are also a classical guitarist, composer, singer, and director. What is the occupation that you are most interested in? Please tell me the reason.
I love conducting orchestras because it allows me to use a bigger palette of colors and to interact with other musicians. Also, I can give my personal input about the orchestral music that we will perform. Performing chamber music is great because one learns a lot from interaction with other musicians and artists. I also enjoy singing because it puts me in direct contact with the essence of humans: everybody feels connected to the human voice in a faster way.
Why did you choose classical guitar among all the instruments?
I played the cello and the piano before, but I found the guitar to be the most intimate and richest of all the instruments because it's a melodic and harmonic instrument like a small orchestra full of colors. It's very complete and portable and is the most common of all instruments that allow humans to express their most personal stories and feelings about their daily life. Also, growing up in Latin America where there's a guitar in every house, I found the guitar to be the most Latin American of instruments. I can play popular songs as well as Bach or Beethoven on the guitar!
As a guitarist, you are not only performing solo but also performing collaboratively, so what are the pros and cons of each?
Playing solo is wonderful because it becomes very intimate and you get to share your soul with an audience, but playing collaboratively is also interesting because you are uniting forces with other artists. This can create a much stronger force and you learn from the experiences of others at the same time as sharing your ideas with them.
Please tell us about your own style of music.
I would like to think of my music as universal, as a combination of my experiences traveling around the world and also playing in different styles for many years. However, I think that my Latin background cannot avoid influencing my writing so I always use rhythms and concepts that come from Latin America and the force of the Amazon as well as African and European influences.
Where do you usually get inspiration from as a composer? Please briefly explain the composition process.
I get inspiration from the daily activities of normal humans and nature. I observe everything around me and then when an idea comes to my mind, I start writing. My composition process depends on the commission that I have at that moment. I first develop a conceptual idea and write lyrics if needed, to later start doing word painting and creating sonorous landscapes as I develop my music.
What is the most memorable or affecting work you have done so far?
I'm working on a series of pieces dedicated to kids to learn how to live better in society and to take care of the environment. I love this project because you are leaving a legacy for a better future by teaching kids essential things about nature and Mother Earth. I think it is beautiful to fulfill this social responsibility and contribute to a better future through music.
In addition, what is the most memorable performance especially among the performances in Korea (excluding those at Sookmyung Women's University)?
I enjoyed my concert for the Colombian Embassy with Soprano Ju Yung Bae because she is from Korea and we explored Colombian and Korean music. It was a beautiful collaboration because we both learned about our own cultures and created a nice hybrid program where we both immersed ourselves in each other's nationalities for a little bit. I love Korean culture and music, and this was the best possible way to absorb it.
What do you think are the virtues an artist should have
I think the most important virtue is to understand that we are normal humans with social responsibility. We should always dedicate our art to the service of humankind, and contribute to a better world with the gift that was given to us as artists. Art touches the soul of humans; therefore, we must use it with responsibility and purpose beyond our recognition.
If you have any future goals or dreams, please let us know.
I have been preparing a chamber concert related to the richness of Colombian music and I will be performing it at Carnegie Hall. It's a great project that fills me with pride and happiness because the world deserves to learn about this beautiful culture. I'm hopeful that this temple of classical music in NY will showcase that in a great way. Also, I want to come back to Korea many times because I loved the culture and the people and one week was not enough to share and to learn everything.
Lastly, please leave a final message for Sookmyungians.
I wanted to thank everybody at Sookmyung for their warm welcome, for inviting me to share my musical experiences, and for allowing me to share my culture. I loved the talent and the energy that I received there. I loved that the students in Korea were open to learning from different cultures and exchanging knowledge around the world. I think this is a very important aspect that will contribute to making the world a better place. Please keep up the good work and I'm looking forward to seeing you all again and making more music together. Cheers from New York. Musically yours, Nilko Andreas.
-Bachelor of Music from The Manhattan School of Music
-Master of Music from The Manhattan School of Music
-CEO of Azlo Productions
-Artistic director of the Amazonas Series at Carnegie Hall
-Music Director for Richard Branson's Virgin Voyages
-Music Director & Conductor at the Azlo Orchestra
Kim Lee Jiwon / Society Section Editor