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Pascual Martínez Forteza

Clarinet

The Honey M. Kurtz Family Chair

Biography

A native of Mallorca, Spain, clarinetist Pascual Martínez Forteza, The Honey M. Kurtz Family Chair, joined the New York Philharmonic in 2001. Prior to his appointment with the Philharmonic, he held tenure with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and at age 18 he was assistant principal and later acting principal of the Baleares Symphony Orchestra in Spain. He has also performed as guest principal clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle.

Martínez Forteza appears regularly as a soloist, recitalist, and master-class teacher at international festivals and conservatories, including the International Clarinet Festival of Chanchung (China), ClarinetFest 2009 (Porto, Portugal), Buffet Crampon Summer Clarinet Festival (Jacksonville, Florida), University of Southern California, Mannes School of Music, The Juilliard School, New Jersey Clarinet Symposium, XI Encuentro Internacional de Clarinetes de Lisboa (Portugal), Mexico Clarinet Convention, and I Latinoamerican Clarinet Congress (Lima, Peru). Past and future engagements include solo performances of Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, Weber’s Clarinet Concertos Nos.1 and 2, Krommer’s Concerto for Two Clarinets, Rossini’s Introduction, Theme and Variations for Clarinet and Orchestra, and Luigi Bassi’s Fantasy on Themes from Verdi’s Rigoletto. He frequently collaborates with Philharmonic colleagues in New York City venues such as Avery Fisher Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, and Carnegie Hall.

Since 2003 Martínez Forteza and Spanish pianist Gema Nieto have played throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States as Duo Forteza-Nieto. Together they founded the Benifaio Music Festival in Spain, where Philharmonic colleagues have joined them for a week of master classes and concerts. A decade ago Martínez Forteza founded Vent Cameristic, a wind ensemble of professional musicians from Spain. As a soloist with that ensemble, he has played every year at the Concerts d’Estiú in Valencia, Spain. In 2003 Spanish National Radio (RNE) produced a CD featuring selections from these performances. Martínez Forteza has also made recordings for radio and television in Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Pascual Martínez Forteza started playing clarinet at age ten with his father, Pascual V. Martínez, principal clarinet of the Baleares Symphony Orchestra for 30 years and teacher at the Baleares Conservatory of Music in Spain. Martínez Forteza earned his master’s degree from the Baleares and Liceo de Barcelona Music Conservatories in Spain and pursued advanced studies with Yehuda Gilad at the University of Southern California, where he won first prize in the university’s 1998 Concerto Competition.

Martínez Forteza is currently a faculty member at New York University and teaches orchestral repertoire at Manhattan School of Music. A Buffet Crampon Artist and Vandoren Artist, he plays Green Line Tosca Buffet clarinets and uses Vandoren reeds and M30D mouthpieces.

“I had a contract with the youth division of the Mallorca Soccer Club as a goalkeeper. When I was 16 I had to choose; I left soccer to focus more seriously on music. ”

Interview wtih Pascual Martínez Forteza

THE FACTS: Born in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Master’s degree from the Baleares and Barcelona (Spain) Conservatories of Music; advanced studies at the University of Southern California. Prior to the Philharmonic: Balearic Islands and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras. At the Philharmonic: Joined May 2001.

EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: Listening to my father, Pascual V. Martínez, practice the clarinet, and going to hear his concerts. He was the principal clarinet of the Balearic Islands Symphony Orchestra and the dean and head of the conservatory’s woodwind department.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE CLARINET? I always liked it. When I turned eight, my father started teaching me about music. He had a clarinet waiting for me, and when I was 10, big enough to reach the clarinet keys, I started taking lessons with him. I also like singing, and I think the clarinet is one of the closest instruments to the human voice.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN? It was either soccer or music. I had a contract with the youth division of the Mallorca Soccer Club as a goalkeeper. When I was 16 I had to choose; I left soccer to focus more seriously on music. At age 18 I won the position of second clarinet in the Balearic Islands Symphony Orchestra and sat next to my father for seven years, also acting as principal player on many occasions.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS WITH THE ORCHESTRA: In my 16 years here I’ve had so many memorable concerts, but if I had to choose: Brahms’s A German Requiem conducted by Kurt Masur right after 9/11. It was so emotionally deep that we all had tears while performing. Also Falla’s La Vida Breve with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Mahler Nine with Bernard Haitink, and Tchaikov sky’s Fifth in Ravenna, Italy, with Riccardo Muti.

WHY DID YOU WANT TO PERFORM IN THE U.S.? While I had tenure with the Spanish orchestra, I wanted to try something different after my studies at USC. I won the spot in Cincinnati and played there for three seasons — one of them as acting principal. My third job was the New York Philharmonic. I was lucky!

HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR SUMMERS? I teach master classes in several summer music festivals, and do most of my solo concerts and recitals, especially in Spain.

HOW MANY MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY ARE MUSICIANS? My grandfather and father are both clarinetists. I have two cousins and an uncle who play saxophone, tuba, and trumpet. My two older daughters love to sing — they are both in choirs: NYC Children’s Chorus and Young People’s Chorus of NYC. My three children learn piano with my wife, Gema.

As of October 2017

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