Breathe In: Breathe Out Performers profile series: Pablo Dominguez
Following the legacy of his father Chano Domínguez, Pablo showed an interest in music from an early age. A self-taught instrumentalist, he has become an acclaimed musician in the London music scene. Having been playing for our Breathe In: Breathe Out programme for 6 years, we asked Pablo what it means for him to perform in that way.
1. As an artist, what does it mean to you to play within the context of the healthcare setting?
It means that I look at the basic nature of music. Music can be something beautiful, or something that makes you feel good, something that evades you and yet can take the listener and player to a different place. Playing in the context of healthcare reminds me all of this. I need to be able to be flexible with what I play, and be aware of the audience. And I do that through exploring different pieces or feelings to suit the environment in which I am playing. It is very interesting to see how music can change the mood of a place. For instance, in a busy room or ward, playing something soft and mellow would slow the pace of what is happening. On the other hand, in wards that have a quite monotonous routine, playing something lively can bring joy to the staff and patients, and it’s a nice surprise for everyone. Sometimes it can get even the nurses singing and dancing! That’s a real joy, and everyone smiles. These joyful moments make all the hours spent practicing the instrument and the effort learning the music well worth it.
Thanks to this opportunity, I have evolved as a musician and as a person, my confidence has grown a lot since I started this journey with Breathe.
For most people, being in the hospital it is not a choice, and having music there brings an opportunity for people listen to something special. Some of the people would never go to a concert, just because they wouldn’t or because they are incapable to go. Playing for this kind of audience is both challenging and rewarding. Thanks to this opportunity, I have evolved as a musician and as a person, my confidence has grown a lot since I started this journey with Breathe.
2. Can you share a moment from your time playing across Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust that has stayed with you?
The are numerous special moments that I have cherished over these last 6 years and so it is hard to choose one. But I remember a special that made me incredibly happy. In a care home that we sometimes play in, I visited this elderly woman a few times. She was perhaps in her 90s and was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and I always found her with her son by her side. One day I went into the room, introduced myself and the son greeted me. But the lady was lying there with a blank expression on her face. The son was talking to her saying, “Mum, there is a musician here to play for you!” She did not react or move an inch but as soon as I started playing, she turned to face me, looked me in the eyes and her whole face lit up. She smiled and raised her arm and began conducting the music with her hand. The son could not believe what was happening! He kept was saying “Oh my god, mum you are dancing!” It seemed like music brought her back from her wandering world. That moment had a very big impact on me, seeing the joy of the son and mother was priceless. That was just one of the many special moment that I experienced.
3. When you’re not working with Breathe, what else do you do?
Luckily, I can live off being a musician but within that I do quite a wide range of things. My first instrument is the guitar, but I also play percussion (mainly cajon) and bass guitar. I do loads of traditional Flamenco shows with various artist around the UK and abroad. I am also part of a band called ‘The Turbans‘ which is a collective of people from “manywhere” (Bulgaria, France, Turkey, Israel, Iran, Greece, Germany, Spain, England and Wales). We play a blend of Balkan, swing, Middle-Eastern and rock. It is a lot of fun and we are about to realise a record in March, which I am quite excited about.
Then, I play Bass with an African/Indian influenced band called Farafi and we play in festivals around the Uk and Germany. I also play percussion with a classical music quintet arranged by Maria Camahort, where we update classically composed music in a more popular way. I am very lucky that I am able to be playing with my dad, who is the internationally well-known Flamenco and Jazz musician Chano Dominguez. He truly is one of my favourite musicians in the world, and not just because is my father! With him we toured around the globe (India, Chile, Norway, Portugal, USA, etc), one special concert was at the Royal Opera house in Oman with the WDR Big Band from Germany or in India with the Rajastani Langa Family.
On top of this, I am always collaborating sporadically with different artist on the London scene. I also do a lot of workshops in schools for kids, where we give them a taste of Flamenco, one of the main Spanish art forms.