An RNCM alumna, Irene Jiménez is now a professional flautist with The Vandalia Trio. Originally from Andalucia, Spain, she moved to Manchester for her postgraduate studies.
She shared with us how migration has affected her life and work…
What does the word ‘Migrant’ mean to you?
My own definition of ‘Migrant’ is about courage – it is necessary to have courage to leave your birth country behind, your traditions, your family and friends and, in many cases, your language.
There are many reasons why people leave their countries – economy, necessity, love – but one of the most powerful reasons is to develop themselves professionally and personally. Being a migrant is an experience that will mark your personality forever.
Where were you born, and what caused you to move away from your birth country?
I am from a city in Andalucia, the south of Spain. When I was 15, I did a scholar exchange with an English family in Dorset. Later on, I got a scholarship for taking part at an English course for a month in the UK and it was one of the best experiences in my life. I knew from a very young age that I would live abroad in the future.
Unfortunately, music studies are not considered equal to ‘University studies’ in Spain. The consequence is that the government does not invest enough money in artistic and performance studies and courses.
There are not enough opportunities to study a good Master of Music in Performance course in the country at the moment, so I stated looking for different options abroad.
How have your personal experiences of migration impacted on you as a musician and artist?
To migrate is a personal lesson. After the adventure and enthusiasm of living abroad, you also need to be prepared for the fear. Fear of feeling ‘apart’, fear of not being accepted at this new place. The first big step is language; it is difficult to make new friends if you cannot understand them. Also, cultural differences can make communication harder.
However, when you are strong enough to be aware of your weaknesses, you start to improve on them and to open your mind, playing and listening to what your teachers say.
Chamber music is the best way to connect with people and as a postgraduate student at the RNCM, I have been able to play in many different chamber music groups.
Migration has enabled me to know myself better, what my options are and what I really like to do. I can say I have improved not only as musician, but as person.
Where did the RNCM come into your story?
When I started looking into my postgraduate options abroad, RNCM studies quickly came to my mind. After visiting RNCM at an Open Day and meeting my tutor, Laura Jellicoe, I decided to apply for MMus auditions.
I was very keen and excited about living and studying abroad with a scholarship in such a renowned institution and I fully intended to engage with every opportunity which came my way. I just felt it was exactly the place I should be.
Where is home to you?
‘Home’ is not always a particular place, it is a feeling you have when you know you are exactly where you want to be. Sometimes it is a person, a day, a glass of wine. RNCM was ‘home’ during my period at UK.
Now ‘home’ is Vandalia Trio, a personal project of original chamber music. We were three friends living abroad in different countries and we decided to move to a new city all together to make our dream come true.
This feeling of community and commitment is the reason why we are recording our new album in January 2020. Our Spanish and foreign experiences had influenced this music directly. You can find out more at the link to our Crowdfunding campaign and help us make it happen.