The word is out. A Grammy-winning flutist is in town to spread some love and peace. Flutist Nestor Torres, known more for his smooth jazz, but who often incorporates other genres into his sound, is stepping into the limelight to perform with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) come Oct 28. We chat with this maestro whose music is inspired by the yearning for peace and understanding.
How would you describe your own sound?
My sound is a blend of my Latin heritage’s melodic and rhythmic sensitivity, classical music’s clean and precise technique, and the improvisational freedom that jazz allows. Mix that with two cups of pop music’s crossover appeal and three tablespoons of world music, and you get my sound, which, by the way, is unlike anything you’ve ever heard! It is very likely you’ll find a certain sense of comfort and familiarity in my music.
Yes, we noticed you often marry different genres in your music, even Middle Eastern beats. Is there any rationale behind this?
Yes and no. No in that the music is who I am; a reflection and expression of the diverse experiences and different cultures I come from and am exposed to. Yes in the sense that, for all the distorted perceptions we in the West may have of the Middle East, I wanted to reflect its humanity, richness and innate beauty in at least one or two songs in my new CD Dances, Prayers & Meditations for Peace.
Dances, Prayers & Meditations for Peace seems to be driven by ideals such as peace, hope and harmony. Is this a departure from your previous works?
It is not a departure in the sense that I have always created my music with the intention of inspiring and empowering people. But it is also a departure in that I am being vocal about it. I feel that the times we live in require that we confront the tough issues and the difficult questions head on. I am an artist and a musician; this is how I choose to do it at this time.
So who are your influences?
My father’s my most significant musical influence. As for the flute, Hubert Laws is, and will always, be my flute idol, especially the work he did 30 years ago. Other influences include Tito Puente, Miles Davis and Nat King Cole.
Let’s talk about your concert with the SSO. What songs will you perform?
Familiar songs like “El Condor Pasa,” “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” and “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” There will also be newer pieces from Dances, Prayers & Meditations for Peace.
And is there any symphonic pop musician who you feel is promising?
Yes. Nestor Torres!