INTERVIEW João Aboim
João Aboim Appointed Director of the Escuela de las Artes des Teatro del Lago (EDLA)
“Creativity is always the motor in our search for excellence.” Since February of this year, the Teatro del Lago’s School of the Arts has a new director, João Aboim, a native of Portugal. Aboim has worked at major European theatres, such as the London Royal Academy of Music, Maggio Musicale in Florence and the Arena di Verona – a wealth of experience which the pianist and director can now draw upon at the Teatro del Lago.
Aboim’s goal is to professionalize the School of the Arts further, giving it the necessary impulses to meet the highest standards, both for young people who want to make music and the arts part of their lives, and for those who wish to make them their career and life goal. His development and artistic career reveal an expert who knows how to set artistic education on a professional foundation.
Born in Lisbon, João started playing the piano at the age of 5 and was later mentored by the pianist Maria João Pires, then studied at the Royal College of Music in London. He performed early on with orchestras such as the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon. As a musician, actor and composer, he has participated in numerous successful theatre productions. His work as assistant director and director has taken him to international opera houses such as the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Verona Arena and Macerata Opera Festival, the Teatro Verdi in Pisa, the LAC Lugano Arts Center and Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville.
The School of the Arts has trained more than 6,500 children, teenagers and adults in the Lakes Region of Chile and beyond during the more than ten years of its existence. This makes it a benchmark for a unique model of artistic training. Under the patronage of an international theatre, the School has major social effects. More than half the students receive scholarships. The curriculum offers introductions to music as well as ballet, choral and instrumental instruction (piano, violin, viola, cello and flute). This year, flamenco and jazz dance have been added to its portfolio.
Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, its current students, approximately 400, are being taught online until further notice.
We discussed his new position with João Aboim.
What does this job mean to you?
To me, taking on the directorship at the School of the Arts means the realization of a profound wish to join a team of extraordinary artists and pedagogues with an important mission: to pass on an understanding of the arts to Chile’s present and future generations. It also means the challenge of anchoring the School even more deeply in its community, to present courses which are continuously evolving, to strengthen the School’s image in relation to state, cultural and educational institutions, to support other organizations in order to initiate new academic cooperations, and to sharpen the international profile of the School and its artistic achievements.
What is your view of the School of the Arts and which goals have you set yourself for this year?
The School of the Arts has high standards, both in Chile and internationally. This past year, the pandemic has had a major influence on the manner of instruction. Our first challenge will be to optimize all our resources, so that we can come together again as soon as possible – always with an eye on health and safety, of course.
What is your assessment of the School of the Arts’ work so far?
Its work so far has been fundamental to the development of the Lakes Region and the entire country. Today, its collaboration with the Frutillar community is a model for projects all over the world. The mission of the Teatro del Lago Foundation and its School of the Arts, to offer arts, culture and education, is an important link with the community and has given the School a strong position in the areas mentioned. All three are basic foundations for growth and true development.
In your opinion, what should be the main focus of the Teatro del Lago School of the Arts during the coming years?
The focus should be on the expansion of tuition, while maintaining the highest standards of quality. We must look outward, focusing on what is happening in artistic education in Chile and internationally, so that we can be inspired without losing our identity, which makes us unique and characterizes us.
The Pandemic and Future Productions
How does the School function in times of Covid-19?
We all want to return to normalcy, to live, on-site instruction, as soon as we can. We now have improved online tuition, in larger rooms and with customized technological infrastructure. Apart from the spaces at Casa Richter, we can also use the Teatro del Lago spaces for group lessons. We will gradually move from online instruction to hybrid instruction, keeping the online model for those students who are not yet able to attend in person. This mixed model will also have a positive effect when we return to live instruction, for it will enable students from other regions and countries to continue participating.
Could you give us a preview of productions in which students of the School of the Arts will perform as part of the Theatre’s artistic programme?
It is my intention to have all of the School’s areas represented in the Theatre’s programme. In order not to lose the moment of surprise when the official programme is announced, I would prefer not to reveal any details yet. However, I can tell you that the choral students will the among the main protagonists of one of the first productions. They will introduce a contemporary piece, a challenge in view of the paradigm we are currently living through, meant to tear down the barriers which the pandemic has erected. The School will also have its own production. This must have the same quality we have come to expect from the Teatro del Lago. That is why the overall preparation and every detail of this production will be part of the artistic training our School offers.
What are your plans for improving the potential of all three areas of instruction – instrumental training, vocal training and dance?
The aspect all three share is the stage. Our professors have a quality that is unmatched throughout the region and all of Chile; we have one of the most modern stages in Latin America and a group of talented students who are ambitious and can hardly wait to perform on that stage. What more do we need? We must not stop striving for excellence and transforming our pedagogical work into art by and for the community and the world, and we must foster the talent of our students and lead them into the grand arena which is an artist’s life, both on stage and off.
What will be your contribution, the personal trademark you bring to the School of the Arts?
During my own training, I always tried to get to know as many different aspects of the world of the arts as possible, including the visual arts. Thus I acquired a range of competencies which gave me the wherewithal to become an opera director. At the School of the Arts, I want to reveal the secrets which hold together all these art forms on stage, like an invisible thread. I want every student to learn all the details behind a production, and to understand how important every element is in order to make the artists shine. That creativity is always the motor in our search for excellence.