For our upcoming concert in April, Bach: Keeping it in the Family, we invited the father/daughter duo Alfredo and Cecilia Bernardini to co-guest direct this (almost) all-Bach program. Both have performed with Tafelmusik in the past but it’s been a while since our last catch-up.
How did you come to decide to be a musician?
Cecilia Bernardini: As I little girl I fell in love with the violin; the longer I played it the more I became sure I wanted to become a violinist. The musicians’ life of my father and his friends seemed attractive and exciting!
Alfredo Bernardini: I sang in a choir and played the recorder as a child. When I heard my first Bach cantata aged 14 I decided I wanted to become an oboist and play that wonderful music.
What was your first music gig?
CB: It was a Schubert sonatina and a Mozart sonata (I think…) in a beautiful Orangerie somewhere in the Dutch countryside, when I was about twelve.
AB: Playing Handel’s opera Ariodante with Tafelmusik at the Scala in Milan in April 1982, with Jeanne Lamon leading, Alan Curtis conducting and my teacher Bruce Haynes playing principal oboe!
What is your ‘guilty pleasure’ music to listen to?
CB: Stéphane Grappelli, Jacques Brel, Björk.. Although I don’t feel particularly guilty about that!
AB: Rossini ouvertures and Latin American rhythmic music.
What are the last three songs/pieces you’ve listened to (on your iPod or phonograph)?
CB: “Royal Consort” of William Lawes by Ensemble Phantasm, Bach violin unaccompanied sonatas by Lucy van Dael and “The Willow song” from Othello (anonymous)
AB: Schumann symphonies, Les voix bulgares, Gesualdo’s madrigals.
What is your favourite thing to do on a day off?
CB: Going for a bike ride in the countryside, visiting my relatives in Amsterdam, or simply enjoying a good book and a glass of wine.
AB: Go to the peak of a mountain and find silence
You often perform together. What is the experience like, to work together as father and daughter?
CB: It’s wonderful; because we know each other so well there is a deep and natural musical understanding between us. The fact that we play two different instruments means that we can look at the same piece from slightly different angles.
AB: It’s an incredible pleasure and fulfillment to combine my two favourite things together: family and music.
In these concerts you are co-directing. How does that work?
CB: I usually leave it to my father to give the big outline and try to help where possible. Obviously I take the lead when it’s strings only. It does help to discuss things in advance so that we don’t end up contradicting each other by accident!
AB: I suppose we try not to interfere with one another too much. For that, it’s important to establish in advance how to share the pieces and the tasks.