Presenting Monteverdi’s "Vespers"

“I am happy to be back in Israel,” says internationally acclaimed tenor Rodrigo de Pozo.

 (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra opens its 29th season with a performance of Monteverdi’s choral masterpiece Vespers, under conductor Andrew Parrott of the UK.
“I am happy to be back in Israel,” says internationally acclaimed tenor Rodrigo de Pozo of Chile, who joins the roster of fine soloists from Israel and abroad for two concerts in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Speaking with a perfect British accent, which makes one doubt his Latin American origins, De Pozo talks about his career in a phone interview from his home in Chile.
Born into a non-musical family, he first studied classical guitar in his homeland.
“Toward the end of my musical career I also grabbed a lute because I was very interested in Renaissance and Baroque music. I discovered lute songs and fell in love with them. It was already my guitar teacher who said, ‘You have a fairly good voice; you should sing, too,’” he recounts.
In the 1990s De Pozo went to England to study lute with Jacob Lindberg, “who was a fantastic lutenist. But I was able to sing, and he said, ‘You should go to Andrew Parrott. He is the best.’ While Andrew Parrott said, ‘Actually, you are a high tenor, not a countertenor.’ A countertenor’s voice production is basically falsetto, while I used my chest voice. I used to sing a lot of alto stuff, such as French music and Italian music, although now I perform many regular tenor pieces,” he says.
Love of Baroque came to De Pozo through the guitar.
“I learned pieces of Bach, performed on guitar. That is why I decided to study lute, and then I started to discover this all wonderful Renaissance and early Baroque music, and it totally grabbed my attention,” he recounts.
But since 2000, De Pozo has lived in Chile, and he also performs a classical, romantic and contemporary tenor repertoire.
He says that Monteverdi’s Vespers is a monumental piece, “which features 10 parts. It is one of the largest pieces ever written before Bach. It was published in Venice in 1610 and apparently was written when Monteverdi was still in Mantova [Mantua, Italy]. He probably wrote the piece to show it to the pope in order to receive a better position. It is a fantastic piece that is so exciting to perform. It was discovered in early 1970s, and people started to perform it, mostly with a huge amateur choir. Many musicologists think that it was not intended to be performed with an amateur choir but rather by a small group of professional singers, like we do it in Israel – we are 10 singers. I performed it many times, and this time I sing an alto part. I often sang the tenor part, which is so exciting because it includes many solos and an intimate motet, while an alto sings in ensembles, which is still great,” he says.
In 2000, at the peak of his musical career, De Pozo returned to his native land of Chile.
“In the 1990s there were a lot of things going on in Europe. Many ensembles recorded CDs, and I took part in it, participating in 45 recordings,” he says.
Living in England for 10 years, De Pozo worked mainly in France with major Baroque groups for the last five years.
“But I have a family – a wife and two daughters – and at that time I was freelancing. One day, I received a call from the University of Santiago de Chile, where I had studied. They wanted me back, offering a position for my wife as well, and I took the offer. It is a different life, but it’s fine and I don’t regret it, although I miss making music with fantastic groups and people like I used to do,” he says.
The concerts take place on October 31 at 8 p.m. at Zucker Hall, Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal Hatarbut), Tel Aviv; and November 1 at 8 p.m. at the International YMCA, Jerusalem. For reservations: (02) 671-5888 or