Is life at MICA stressful

The musician, organizer and music educator Angélica Castelló, who grew up in Mexico, landed in Vienna 15 years ago. Here she plays both old and new as well as experimental music and uses a Paetzold sub-bass recorder, cassettes and electronics for these purposes. She plays in the recorder ensemble Plenum, in the Low Frequency Orchestra, in the bands Zimt and Subshrubs, in the duos Chesterfield (me Burkhard Stangl), frufru (with Maja Osojnik), cilantro (with Billy Roisz) and many others. She also performs solo, composes and designs sound installations. In addition, she has been organizing the monthly concert series “New Music in St. Ruprecht” in Vienna's oldest church in the 1st district for ten years. Alois Sonnleitner asked Angélica Castelló for an interview.

Angélica, when did you move from Mexico to Austria or what was so interesting about Vienna that made you come here? How did you feel about the fundamental differences between the two worlds at the time?

Angélica Castelló: I came to Vienna in 1999. Today, I think I ended up in Vienna unconsciously-deliberately, it was a bunch of coincidences that brought me here, without any planning or anything, quite intuitively ... In retrospect, I think that life wanted it that way, it was already in the signs of my childhood! One of my favorite cartoons as a child was Heidi (ok, Heidi is in Switzerland, but the Alps), in the 1980s I was a Falco fan, I danced his songs on the roof of my house in Mexico City and sang his songs with incredible passion (but I only found out in 2001 that Falco was Austrian!), when I was 15 I discovered Gustav Mahler and selected / adopted / swapped him as my father, learned his music almost by heart and dreamed of becoming an orchestra conductor, to be able to conduct his music one day, and I've read all kinds of things about Vienna at the turn of the century. And Sigmund Freud was always present in my life. My father started studying psychology when I was 8, and although he was incredibly dubious, he chose Freud as his idol and bought his writings. Then Schubert came too, and Brahms and everyone. Then there was the desire to learn this language. And when I had forgotten all of this, because music and my life had taken a completely different direction, one day I was suddenly in Vienna, 1999. At that time everyone was grumpy about the black and blue government. It was really a strange atmosphere, and it was tough, very tough. Difficult country, difficult language. But I stayed and I don't want to leave anymore.

How I feel about the differences between the two worlds, I cannot easily answer. This question might be something for someone who came to Vienna directly from Mexico. But I lived in Montreal and Amsterdam in between. I no longer have a clear picture of any country, so to speak. They mix in my perception and are all complex beings, just like people are complex. I would have to write a book about it, maybe one day I will.

Did you quickly find allies for your musical ambitions in Vienna? Who were your first important contacts, who are you today?

Angélica Castelló: I came to Austria through my then love and art partner Albert Castelló, we had a duo called “blue rose radio”, and we played at some festivals with them. The most impressive one at the time was a festival on the Ferris wheel in the Prater, which in the years 1999 and 2000 took place, it was in the gondolas of the ferris wheel, inside we musicians turned for hours and played electronic music. There is no better welcome to Vienna!

In 2000 I took the entrance exam for the Elak (Institute for Composition and Electroacoustics; Note). I was not accepted or only as an extraordinary student, but it was enough for me to get to know a lot of interesting people and soon make friends, including colleagues I still work with, such as Thomas Grill, Matija Schellander and Robert Kellner , but also many others with whom I have been able to work on very interesting projects. Then I just kept the contacts and no longer studied at the Elak. As an electronics technician, I also had my own interests, so I'm actually self-taught. and that fact, after years of conservatory and university studies, appealed to me very much! Then came the contact with Maja Osojnik and Thomas List from the recorder world, then Katharina Klement and Andreas Platzer ... and then many, many more!

I wonder how you can bring as many things under one roof as you can. You practice old, new and improvised music, you are the organizer, you teach. What else is there, and is there still time for other things?

Angélica Castelló: I really enjoy working. Everything I do is very fulfilling for me! I also have a very nice and inspiring social life, I'm not a workoholic who always has to work. But actually I don't know how it all turns out. There are very dense and stressful periods when I suffer from these many construction sites. But I assume that if you love what you do, everything works out. For me music is a kind of religion or discipline that gives my life balance and beauty. I owe everything to music and art.

You are also a regular guest in Mexico and keep inviting colleagues from there to Austria. How does this exchange work from your point of view?

Angélica Castelló: For me personally, this exchange is very important. I haven't been to Mexico for years, my financial situation didn't allow it at the time. I haven't been there for ten years and I went back as an artist for the first time in 2008. I don't believe in homeland or nationality, but the fact is that when I'm in Mexico working or discussing with my Mexican colleagues, another Angélica wakes up. One that I like very much and that makes me happy. I want to bring my colleagues here, and I want my colleagues here in Vienna to get to know them too, and for everyone to develop new projects and play together - and one day I'll organize a huge experimental symphony where everyone makes a huge noise and these sounds of Austrians and Mexicans will mix, just as these two countries are very mixed in my head, so to speak. I think that, from my point of view, this exchange works very well on the Angélican planet!

As a politically minded person, how do you perceive Austria as I know and appreciate you in terms of dealing with people of other origins?

Angélica Castelló: It flatters me that you see me as a politically thinking person because I don't see myself that way. I tend to think that I have very confused political thinking - and then again rather negatively. The Austrians like the Mexicans and actually all people in this world are in principle selfish, uneducated and not so sensitive. Unfortunately, there are few who think of others who are specifically committed to a society or a world with a cultural, ecological, emotional and material balance. However, I think most people want it to be as comfortable as possible, not to “make an effort” to meet people who think differently or come from different backgrounds, to accept, to learn with them. This is generally said, but that's what I see on the tram / bus. But my reality is not like that, I've always been lucky, the people and friends and institutions here have mostly been good to me. In most cases it is pure luck that you are treated well. I myself, it seems to me, live and work in a kind of privileged environment for that matter.

Angélica, what are your next plans, both in terms of groups or projects and your next concerts?

Angélica Castelló: My composition will be published soon sonic blue on vinyl Interstellar Records out. I'm composing two new works, one for that Reconsil Ensemble and one for the Mexican duo alcantara / terrazas. With the Ensemble plenary we will try to release our first record this year or in spring 2015, and there are all kinds of concerts and projects with this band. With SQID - a quartet with Attila Faravelli, Mario de Vega and Burkhard Stangl - a CD is coming soon on the Russian label Microton Recordings out . And of course I play all kinds of concerts with my different projects. There are also some new solo works that I would have to or would like to premiere that have been and will be composed for me, such as by the Mexican composer Wilfrido Terrazas or by Julia Purgina or Manuela Kerer. In addition to teaching and a pedagogical training at the Eisenstadt Conservatory and at some point with the series New music in St. Ruprecht start again, our “call for projects” will go online soon. And meet friends and cook and drink - and sometimes sleep.

Alois Sonnleitner

Photo 1: David Murobi
Photo 2: Elvira Faltermeier