Sara Vicioso Usero

Meet Theresia: Sara Vicioso Usero

By Emilia Campagna

February 11, 2022

How does a musical passion start? And which are the dreams of a cello player? This, and more, is what we talked about with Spanish cellist Sara Vicioso Usero in our latest interview of the Meet Theresia series. She is a member of Theresia since July 2021 and told us more about her story and her plans.

Tell us about your musical history: when and how did you start to play cello?

I started to play the cello when I was 8, but my first encounter with music was years before. On afternoons my mother would be listening to Radio Nacional Clásica and she would take me in her arms and dance with me. I would close my eyes and let myself go and dance with her. As I grew up she started to ask if I wanted to study music and without hesitation, I said yes, but the instrument I wanted to study was the piano, like my two older cousins. As there were no vacancies for piano, my mother signed me up for cello, her favourite instrument, but I didn’t know at that time what it sounded like! The first time I had my little cello with me I remember not stopping to play all afternoon, as I loved the sound of it. My teacher at the time, Diego Valbuena, suggested that I prepare for the exams to enter the conservatory and that’s how I met M. Ángeles Villamor, who inspired me and encouraged me to go deeper and deeper into the cello.

When and why did you decide to focus on historical performance?

When I was in my fifth year of professional studies, I discovered that my conservatory offered the possibility of joining a baroque orchestra, and since I had always liked Early music, I decided to try it. There, I met Marcelino García, the conductor of the orchestra, who began to make me reflect on how to play the music of the 18th century from a historical point of view. I was so excited that he put me in contact with cellist María Saturno that began to give me period-instrument lessons. With her, I learned to see music from a different perspective, not only looking at the notes but also reflecting on the affections that the music incites. I tried gut strings and other types of tuning depending on the repertoire and I realized how rich, complex and beautiful the field of historical performance was. For this reason, I decided to continue along this path and enter the department of Early music at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid.

You studied in Madrid and you are now studying at Royal Conservatory in Den Haag: why did you choose to move abroad and what did this experience mean for you?

I have always believed that studying abroad is an enriching experience since it gives the chance to know completely different people and learn different ways to understand music. I chose Den Haag because on the one hand, I knew that Lucia Swarts was the teacher of historical cello and I really wanted to study with her, and on the other hand because the Early music department of this Conservatory is one of the most important in the Early music field, so I could learn a lot. Now, that I am finishing my master I can say that moving here was the best idea since I am improving a lot and I am meeting wonderful people with the same ambitions as mine.

How did you know about Theresia and why did you decide to join it?

I have several friends who were in Theresia a few years ago and they were always encouraging me to try it, so I started following the orchestra on Facebook and I was fascinated by the projects and the atmosphere. In the end I did it, and it has been the best decision I have ever made! 

Your first experience was an orchestral project: how was it? Had you already worked with Alfredo Bernardini?

It was one of the most beautiful musical experiences I have ever had! I had never worked with Alfredo Bernardini before, it was my first time and it was amazing. In particular, I really enjoyed one of the rehearsals in which he suggested that we sit next to a different instrument than ours, so we had a completely different sonic perspective of the orchestra. Besides, I’ve met amazing people that I am looking forward to seeing again in the next projects. 

During the last residency an afternoon was devoted to rehearsing chamber music suggested by musicians: did you come up with a piece of music?

Yes! I was rehearsing one trio by Beethoven for Violin, Viola and Cello and a Trio Sonata by C.P.E. Bach. It was a very enriching afternoon since we could read chamber music together just for fun and I enjoyed it a lot.

During a residency like Theresia’s one, you find yourself working with musicians from many countries, how is it like? Do you think this fact enhances your experience?

For me, working with musicians from other countries is one of the most beautiful things to experiment with. I can learn a lot about other cultures and also I can share with them part of mine. One of the most beautiful things is when you have a connection with someone from abroad and you realize that in the end you are very similar, you have the same motivations, the same fears, even the same sense of humour! Of course, it enhances my experience a lot.

How is a typical day of yours? What do you like to do when you are not studying/playing? 

Now I am finishing my master, so my days are full of study! I get up early to study cello, to go to some rehearsals and to finish my Master Research which I have to hand in soon. However, when I am not studying or playing I love reading, cycling and travelling when I can. As I am in the Netherlands now, I really love when I have some time to discover bike routes and visit little villages with my friends.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Musically, I would love to combine teaching and stage, being part of a baroque or classical orchestra. It is one of my dreams. Personally, I see myself surrounded by the same people that make me happy right now, that in the end are the ones who encourage me every day. 

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About Emilia Campagna

Journalist and musician, Emilia is a blogger for Theresia