Inspiring classical music east of Malaga

Thomas rehearses at home with Homer the dog.
Thomas rehearses at home with Homer the dog. / J. R.
  • Pianist Thomas Kaurich, a Juilliard graduate, has high hopes for music in Malaga's "cultural" renaissance

Thomas Kaurich will be giving two piano recitals in May; one on 10 June at Bodegas Bentomiz and on 17 June in the grounds of St George’s Church in Malaga. He hopes that these will be the first of many and would like to gather support and momentum for more classical and chamber music to be on offer in the east of Malaga area where he lives with his partner and two labradors.

Thomas, originally from Maryland, USA, has lived for the last seven years in the ‘campo’ in the Axarquía, where he and his partner run a guesthouse that offers among other things yoga retreats, between April and October. This, the Juilliard Dance, Drama and Music School graduate says, allows him time to focus on “music and ambitions”.

Thomas, 48, started playing the piano at the age of four. While there was a piano in the house he says he doesn’t come from a particularly musical family. However, his family quickly recognised that he had a gift and by the age of 12 he was touring the USA and Canada. “If you have that kind of talent your future is predestined,” he says. “Everyone just assumes that that is what you will do and I never thought about doing anything else.”

Studying at Juilliard, the pianist says, makes you feel that you are not so special after all.

“It’s extremely competitive and you are in a bubble - surrounded by other exceptionally talented people and extraordinary becomes the norm.”

When he was 20, Thomas left the USA and came to Europe, where he spent 20 years living in London and at various stages also in Paris and Munich. This has given him not only the opportunity to develop his musical career, giving up to 60 concerts a year, but to become a linguist too, picking up French, German and now Spanish along the way.

In London, Thomas was awarded an MBA from the London Business School in 1994, after which joined Warner Classics and later EMI recording labels, the latter as marketing director. There he worked with a number of well-known artists, including Plácido Domingo and Simon Rattle. However, he says that there was a steady decline in demand for recorded music, with the rise of digital downloading. By 2008, he says it was the “final nail in the coffin” for the industry and he says he needed to “decide whether to continue in the commercial world or get back to playing the piano”.

Working in the commercial sector gave him a very different view on life, the music industry and indeed on his own talents. “You spend a lot of time alone as a soloist and therefore a lot of time looking inward and that’s not always necessarily a good thing,” he says. But “working 60-hour weeks allowed little time to dedicate to the piano”, he adds.

Having decided that he did want to return to his own music, Thomas and his partner found their guesthouse up for sale while looking for properties on the internet. Although Thomas had previously spent time in Barcelona where he still has a number of friends, he didn’t know Andalucía. Thomas has the time to explore the possibilities for classical and chamber music in the east of Malaga province and particularly around his home of the Axarquía.

“Malaga is going through a real cultural renaissance at the moment and the rest of the province is starting to take advantage of that,” he says, adding, “I want to see if there is interest in this area to develop more of a classical music scene.”

Thomas says he is settled in the Axarquía for now. “There is still so much of this area to explore,” he says and adds that he has “no plans to return to the USA permanently” although he does go back to visit family and friends.