Friday, 26 January 2024, 18:17
Matthew Gibbon's Spanish-English family are big fans of Sevilla FC and are all musical, which is what led the Gibbon-López Balcony Trio to be asked to perform in front of the football club's directors ahead of a game against Juventus last year.
Matthew has played double bass for the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla (Royal Seville symphony orchestra), since its creation in 1991. His sons Jamie and Fernando play the violin and piano respectively and his daughter, Inés who at 18 is the baby of the family, also plays the piano, but her main musical interest is singing.
As well as the football gig, the video for which can be found on YouTube, the musical family started to perform on the balcony of their home, much to the enjoyment of their neighbours.
Then they attracted the attention of local media when they performed a rendition of We'll Meet Again to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022. "The children have never lived in Britain, but they're quite proud of their British heritage." Matthew reveals.
Matthew, 56, arrived in Seville in 1991, a year before the city's Expo. He explains that Spain was putting a lot of funding into the arts at the time and a number of orchestras were created in cities including Malaga and Granada.
"From about 1990 to 2000 they formed 15 or 16 orchestras and Seville was one of them," he explains. However, he says that it was "a coincidence" that the orchestra was formed before the Expo '92.
Matthew wasn't the only Brit to get a place he says. In fact there were "quite a few" and he is one of around five who still belong to the orchestra today.
The musician explains that at the time he had just finished studying at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and had worked with the BBC Philharmonic in the city, as well as the Liverpool Philharmonic.
He heard about auditions in London for a new orchestra in Seville and decided to give it a try. "I had no ties at the time and in fact my mother insisted very much that I went as she had spent time in Seville in the 1950s and absolutely loved it."
Matthew was offered a job on the same day. It was an 18- month contract and Matthew had never been to Spain before. He had been taught the basics of the language while touring in Italy: "A Spanish oboe player taught me some things like 'una cerveza por favor', all the very important things," Matthew laughs!
After 18 months, all those who wanted to stay on were given full-time contracts and by then Matthew had met his now wife, who used to attend the concerts and the rest, as they say, is history. "I thought Seville would be for a year or two but you take life one day at a time," he says, 33 years later. He says that his mother, who has now passed away, returned to Seville to visit the family regularly while she was alive.
Also happy with the job, Matthew says, "What I like about the orchestra is that it's big and there's a lot of variety. We do everything from opera, ballet, small concerts to chamber music, which is what I really love doing. It's never boring."
Before the financial crisis and Covid, Matthew got the opportunity to travel extensively with the orchestra and has been to China, Japan, Germany and Puerto Rico, as well as to a number of Spanish cities. However, those tours started to dry up when the financial crisis hit and never really took off again.
Then of course the Covid pandemic stopped any kind of travel. But Matthew points out that he has also travelled with other groups. "That's one of the reasons you go into music - to see the world and travel," he admits.
When he's not making music or attending football matches, Matthew says he likes running and has even taken part in a marathon and a number of half-marathons.
Matthew is giving a concert at El Molino de Cajiz on 3 February, along with fellow Seville-based pianist Irina Kadashnikova with whom he plays at wedding ceremonies and other events. The programme is classical music from the late 18th and early 19th century. For further information and reservations visit: www.elmolinodecajiz.com.
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