Violinist Andrés Cárdenes has no intentions of slowing down. While he assumes his playing career has maybe 10 to 12 good years left, he began morphing into a more advisory role, furthering his conducting and teaching career, and maybe writing a couple of books. This includes developing his title as the Music Director of the Josef Gingold Chamber Music Festival of Miami.
“My father is 89 and works six days a week, so I don’t see a drop-off in my work ethic or passion for music,” Cárdenes says.
This work ethic began long ago, when Cárdenes immigrated to the United States as a baby with his parents from Cuba in 1959. His parents had very little money or English skills, but instilled a sense of urgency and work ethic to make a productive and honest life in this country.
“There was a lot of pressure and inspiration to succeed and be grateful for the opportunity to do so,” he says.
Music Festival In Honor of Gingold
Cárdenes’s latest project is The Josef Gingold Chamber Music Festival of Miami. This festival was named after his mentor, teacher, and musical guide, and was co-founded with several friends and colleagues to restore the craft, art and discipline of strings and piano.
Mr. Gingold was one of the last links to the Golden Age of violin playing in the mid-20th century. His approach was to play as beautifully as humanly possible, to serve the music humbly and make it more important than yourself. Cárdenes feels it is a lost discipline in the era of Facebook, Internet, and immediate gratification.
“We, as a society, are losing our personal connections and the Festival brings together students, world class faculty and the community to create a meaningful musical and personal dialogue on a more connective basis,” he says.
While social media, advertising, radio spots and print media are effective, having a personal connection with artists and organizations is the key. Cárdenes has a pretty huge following, and he says that is a result of taking time to speak with people, responding to their feelings and thoughts, and being appreciative.
“Audiences need a reason not to stay home and watch Netflix, and the reason needs to be that they want to interact with an artist on a personal level,” he says.
The inaugural festival kicked off from July 9 through July 27, and combined rigorous study with imaginative performances to elevate and inspire both the participant and audiences throughout the three-week journey. It was met with great success and praise, as professionals and students collaborated in Cor Jesu Chapel at Barry University.
The Josef Gingold Chamber Music Festival of Miami is still a major focus for Cárdenes as he plans the next season: an entire new season, inviting artists, developing community strategies, recruiting, and more.
In addition to his concentration on the Gingold Festival, Cárdenes is currently planning several more recordings: Cesar Franck Sonata with pianist David Deveau; Mozskowski and complete Bruch Concerti Violin Concertos with Ian Hobson conducting Sinfonica Varsovia; among many others. He also will be traveling to South America, Cuba, Mexico, Canada, and throughout the United States this coming season. The Cuba trip is a humanitarian endeavor through the Volta Music Foundation, founded by a former Carnegie Mellon University student to help young string players there. Cárdenes will be teaching and playing a bit there and recently donated ten violins to the foundation.
Cárdenes believes high-quality education is relative. Prioritizing peaceful and personally connective curriculums such as music make our children smarter and more humane. This in turn creates long term interest in the arts and develops audiences and future donors at an early age.
In many parts of the world, there are not world class, or even good local teachers simply because even they don’t have access to such. It must start at the top with national, state and local governments making music a priority in educating young people. However, arts funding is waning simply because generally governments no longer support music in the public school system.
“The solution is the personal touch, creating friendships, relationships and connections with our communities and the people in them,” Cárdenes says. “An arts organization is as vital to a city’s profile as a football team. I’d love to see fans be as rabid about our Gingold Festival as they are about the Miami Heat! We’re working on it!”
Using Art For Good
Using his talents to aid others outside the classical music world is important to Cárdenes. He was an unofficial Cultural Ambassador for UNICEF for 20 years, played volunteer concerts for the Red Cross in Mexico, and played numerous fundraising concerts for many organizations in support of his friends. Also, he and his children are deeply involved in the local community, often playing for patients at the Hillman Cancer Center and several Alzheimer’s wards in Pittsburgh.
Cárdenes also finds happiness in doing what he loves:, playing, conducting, teaching, and sharing music; being with his children; and spending time with his girlfriend Giselle.
“I think being with my children and seeing them grow has a huge influence on me. They remind me every day how to keep moving forward, keep learning and be a good person,” he says.
Cárdenes hopes he is remembered for bringing people together, being dedicated to his art, and passing on the legacy of the great masters from his violinistic “family tree."
“[Performing is] the most satisfying and thrilling part of my musical life. I love to share my art and bring people together. And I love the pressure and expectation that comes with this,” he says.