Luis Herrera Albertazzi

Percussion

Hometown: San José, Costa Rica 

Alma maters: National Institute of Music, Costa Rica, Bachelor in Percussion Performance; New England Conservatory of Music, Masters in Percussion Performance; New England Conservatory of Music, Graduate Diploma in Percussion Performance; Bard College, Sō Percussion Teaching Fellowship

Instagram: @luis.drums

Photos by Matt Dine

Profile

Appearances: Days in the Arts, Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, Assistant Director

What is your earliest memory of classical music? Handel’s Messiah outside the National Theater of Costa Rica, being performed by members of the National Institute of Music, and inviting audience members to conduct the ensemble. 

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career? During middle school, sitting in a rehearsal of the Concertgebouw Brass Ensemble during their tour in Costa Rica. 

How did you hear about TŌN? What inspired you to apply? I heard about TŌN while being a Teaching Fellow at the Bard College Conservatory. Orchestral percussion has been my passion for a long time, and being so close to a very high-level orchestra made me try my hardest to be a part of it. 

What do you think orchestra concerts should look like in the 21st Century? TŌN does an amazing job at including composers and compositions that need to be programmed more often. Maestro Botstein’s way of viewing our current situation in classical music has shaped the way we play and program concerts, and our audience loves it. Definitely a step into the right direction. 

Who is your biggest inspiration? Any person that doesn’t find excuses and just fights for what they want until they achieve it. My mom is the example. 

Which composer or genre of music do you feel you connect with the most? Little bit of a different answer: I am incredibly connected with the music of my country and the way that many young musicians and friends are working to keep our traditions and sounds alive. 

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it? Any Shostakovich symphony (maybe not any, but you get the idea) because of how FUN it is to perform them as a percussionist. 

What has been your favorite experience as a musician? Traveling to Norway and the Czech Republic and getting to perform in amazing and famous halls. The acoustics were something else. 

Do you have any embarrassing performance stories? Respighi’s Pines of Rome has a recording of bird calls at the end of the third movement. Percussionists are often asked to hit the play button during the concerts and then stop the recording when it’s time. During the dress rehearsal everything went great, but we forgot to rewind the recording to the beginning, and the bird calls that were heard during the live performance were definitely not the ones intended by Respighi.

What is some advice you would give to your younger self? Be patient and work hard. My teacher used to say, “work slow because you need to get there fast.” Deep words! 

Favorite non-classical musician or band: Havana D’Primera 

If you could play another instrument, what would it be? Trumpet! I used to play it a long time ago.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing? I would work as a tour guide in Costa Rica! So many wonders that so many people don’t know about.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why? Norway. The natural beauties of this country are absolutely stunning. 

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with and why? Arturo Sandoval, Vic Firth, and Yo-Yo Ma. Arturo—his story is one of the most inspiring ever. If you don’t know him, go check him out! Vic Firth—would love to ask him how he became one of the biggest figures in the percussion world. Yo-Yo Ma—besides the musical hero he is for many, I’ve heard that he’s extremely fun to hang with! 

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us: I love watches! I’ve been building my collection for some years now.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician: Always remember to stick to your own voice! At the end of the day/audition/exams, etc., it will ALWAYS make a difference.