Flautist calls both Spain and Singapore home

Roberto Alvarez has been with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra since 2007.
Roberto Alvarez has been with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra since 2007.PHOTO: ROBERTO ALVAREZ

Flautist Roberto Alvarez, 38, is teaming up with harpsichordist Tien Yang and pianist Shane Thio for his upcoming concert, Dreams And Mirages.

Alvarez was born in Asturias, on the rugged northern coast of Spain, and began his foray into music at a conservatory there before travelling the world for his shows and studies.

The flautist, who has been with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) since 2007, is married with no children. He says his concert will unite pieces from Spain - his home by birth - and Singapore, the place he now calls home.

How did you get into music and what made you fall in love with the flute in particular? My parents sent me to the conservatory because one of my brothers was studying violin and enjoying it.

The first teachers you get in your life are important and I was lucky to receive solfege (a method used to teach pitch and sight singing) and flute lessons from two awesome teachers who made me love music.


  • WHERE: Esplanade Recital Studio

    WHEN: March 8, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: $25 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to

I enjoyed playing chamber music with my friends so much that I never stopped loving music. I would spend many weekends playing basketball and chamber music with the same friends.

What's your favourite piece to play and listen to?There are so many pieces I like to play and perform, not only pieces for flute. And there are many pieces I love listening to, but most probably will never perform.

I've always found it hard to choose between styles, so it's a pleasure to change styles in pieces during a performance.

Bach, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Ligeti, Ravel and Debussy are often in my hi-fi player or playlist.

What can we expect at your upcoming performance? There's always the weekly performance with the SSO. We play such a fantastic repertory.

I feel every Singaporean should be proud of having such a good group, introducing Singaporean art overseas and locally.

As a soloist, I'll be performing with my colleagues and friends Tien Yang and Shane Thio in a concert titled Dreams And Mirages.

It will be special because of the repertory and the instruments we will use. There will be pieces for flute, piano and harpsichord, which is a truly special combination.

I enjoy bringing together pieces from my country, Spain, and the one I call home, Singapore. The programme will be well balanced, with pieces by Spanish composers such as Jose Nieto and Singaporeans such as Zechariah Goh.

What's the strangest or most memorable thing that has happened to you on stage? Something funny happened during a performance with my jazz group in Spain about 15 years ago.

We were playing in a small town, in a crowded house and after a couple of minutes, a member of the audience seated in the first row stood up and left. The musicians looked at one another, not understanding why he would leave like that, but when we finished our first song, he came back with a bottle of wine and four glasses.

He said the concert seemed like one he would enjoy, so he decided to go home and bring us a present to share during the performance.

Do you still have on-stage jitters? How do you get over them? I always tell my students they're never totally relaxed while they're on stage, but that's a good thing.

Your heart rate increases, you get prepared for a demanding event - but that's a good thing. If you control it, you can enjoy what you do, but if you give it too much importance, it can be negative.

I would say that knowing exactly what you are going to do when you face the audience is important if you want to be in control.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2016, with the headline 'Flautist calls both Spain and Singapore home'. Print Edition | Subscribe