Ronald Silva (Curitiba, March 27, 1940 - Curitiba, June the 5th, 2008)
This is a post in honor to the great harmonica player Ronald Silva, Ronald "da Gaita"( Popular name to call the instrument).
He was the founder of the "Orquestra Harmonicas de Curitiba", the first orchestra to promote the instrument, and later on founder the "Troupe da Gaita", group that he played and promoted until he passed away. He began to play the harmonica very young, alone, listening to old records from "Edu da Gaita", a very famous harmonica player of the 1950's.
My contact with Ronald began in 2000, and since the first moment, we became close friends. Through him, I start to study Radamés Gnatalli's Harmonica Concerto, one of the great masterworks to feature the instrument. The Concerto has a very interesting history: The full score simply disappeared, and with Ronald's assistance, it was reconstructed from a piano sketch and the 1950's recording. The work was conducted by Lutero Rodrigues, at the time conductor of the Curitiba Chamber Orchestra.
After that I review the score once more, looking to make an even better reconstruction of the masterpiece. This work brought me even closer to Ronald, and then I could realize his geniality. He was a consultant of the Hering Harmonica Factory in Blumenau, and besides the skill of quality control and instrumental development, he used the factory's resources to actually build and create new instruments and new instrument resources from scratch. I remember him saying:
- Radames (Gnatalli) and Edu (the harmonica player to whom the concert was written) didn't even dream of an instrument with these powerful capabilities. Certainly if they had, they would use many different effects that would make this concert even better. (...)
And then, he played the harmonica as it should really be played.
Ronald was the first genius musician that I worked with. Completely self-thought, he knew by pure and natural instinct, everything that the most of us took long years at the conservatories to realize.
Many times I heard him play with such spectacular technique, beauty and sensibility that took my breath away:
- But Ronald, how did you play music like that, where did you learn? – I asked -
- I don't know, I just feel, and think it's beautiful like that - He answered.
He had a huge fascination for the sing of the birds. I believe that He had such a level of observation and synchronicity that he was very much into the bird’s sing vibrations, and was able to reproduce this very singing in the instrument.
Unfortunately, in June the 5th, 2008, my friend passed away due to lung surgery complications. I didn’t even know that he was at the hospital, and was guest conducting abroad when I heard about his condition. I was devastated, because I couldn’t even express my condolences to the family.
Ronald is one of those persons who will be missed.
So, I want to homage him through some work that we did together. In my very beginning as a conductor, in May the 5th 2000, I conducted Ronald in Radamés Gnatalli’s Harmonica concerto.
Unfortunately it was not filmed, but we have an amateur sound recording. I apologize for the quality of the material; the orchestra was also beginning their activities.
Luckily, we may see Ronald’s extreme musicality, with a series of photos, some from the internet and some from my personal archive.
I love you, dear friend, thanks for being part of my life, and I hope we Will see each other again to play this and many other concerts.
Radamés Gnatalli – Harmonica Concerto - III Mov.
Orquestra do Teatro Carlos Gomes de Blumenau
Ronald (da Gaita) Silva, Harmonica
Daniel Bortholossi, conductor.
A little comment – This is a whole symphony orchestra, and the harmonica is a tiny instrument that fits in the palm of the hand.
(The recording is in the post below -
(The recording is in the post below -