« A high caliber virtuoso and a modern poet of the piano » Hannu-Ilari Lampila
A pianist committed to the safeguarding of Human Rights, Maria- Paz Santibanez’s work revolves around « memory and future ». It is a conceptual thread, propelled by her own miraculous life, that commands the attention of all who are lucky enough to hear it. This red thread does not leave room for forgetting.
It’s about carving the future and creating space for new challenges with the tools you have in your hands. Thus, when performing, she brings together past and present works as she invites composers to conceive new projects. Beyond concert halls, thanks to strong cultural management skills, she supports various multidisciplinary projects. Today, she is a renown artist recognized throughout the whole creative community.
Her story with music and the piano began at age four, in Chile. Many years later, in 1987, shortly before the end of her concert performer studies, she was actively campaigning for the return of democracy in the country. In the middle of a peaceful protest, a police officer shot her in the head, at close range. Miraculously, she survived, and after she recovered, decided not to focus on the culture of death but to fight for life, art, and freedom. Her fervour, thoroughness, and rigour tinged with passion gradually allowed her to rebuild her life. She resumed her studies in music and went on to become an internationally recognized and award-winning performer and teacher.
Maria-Paz Santibanez transmits her passion for teaching and research in Contemporary Music to her students at the Paris Conservatory, as well as to the extensive international participants of her master classes. Solo or with an orchestra, she regularly performs in the most prestigious halls and cultural centres of Europe, North America, and Latin America.
Her music father and first professor, Galvarino Mendoza, was a disciple of Claudio Arrau in New York. In France, Maria-Paz joined Odile Delangle’s musical interpretation class in 1999. A refined and demanding pianist, she also encouraged her to work with other musicians. As a consequence, Maria-Paz started learning from Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen, Roger Muraro, Jean François Antonioli, and other great pianists. In 2001, her meeting with Claude Helffer deeply impacted her career,research, and future artistic choices. During a presentation of Piano-Piano, Maria-Paz’s first record, Helffer remarked, « I like the pianist for her sense of rhythm, for her bravery and her musicality. »
Her recordings have earned her numerous awards such as the « Clef Resmusica » and « 4 Diapasons » for the Studies of Interpretation by Maurice Ohana, Piano Bleu’s « Summer Disc » for La Caja Mágica (a Latin American repertoire comprised of early 20th century to contemporary compositions), and Melómano’s “5 stars”, in Spain, for Echos et Résonances by Claude Debussy and Miguel Farias. In 2013, she received the « Victor Jara » award from the Association of Producers and Musical Agents of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil (APACESP).
In 2014, Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile, appointed her as Cultural Attaché to the Embassy of Chile in France. She held this position until 2018, when the Chilean presidential mandate ended. Her work during those four years has been widely recognized. Without putting aside her concert performances, Maria-Paz created new communication channels for Chilean cultural events in France and worked with emblematic organisations such as the Musée de l’Homme, the Grand Palais, the Cinémathèque Française, and the Salle Cortot. She also negotiated, signed, and implemented new international exchange protocols supporting the diffusion of Chilean culture.
At the end of 2019, she co-founded the multidisciplinary association Impact Chili – Arts en resistance. This initiative follows the Chilean upheaval of October 18, 2019. Its purpose is to accelerate the end of the dark, dictatorial legacy born after the 1973 Coup d’Etat against Salvador Allende.
Translation by Jordan Nadler