The piano surgeon he deprived with the Belgian queen
Born in Maputo, Anselmo Chissaque, initiated at the National School of Music, in piano performance, one of the outstanding instruments in classical music and select artists, discovered that the magic of his passion for sound was not necessarily to play, but to refine the sound of the pianos and repair them, especially when she won a scholarship for training in Europe, entering Belgium, where she met the Belgian queen face to face. After 15 years, Chissaque is a national and international reference when it comes to dealing with the health of pianos in the country. In fact, he created the first store, if not the only one, which in addition to selling musical instruments is a repair shop, with emphasis on pianos. On the other hand, he is in the lead, with a few other selected in the area, in the constitution of the Mozambican Association of Repairers of Musical Instruments and Sound Technicians), whose front line is composed of young technicians trained by the Music Fund, the organization that sponsored their international training. Below are excerpts from the interview given to the newspaper Preto & Branco.
Black & White (B&W) – Can you present yourself officially and artistically?
Anselmo Chissaque (AC):My name is Anselmo Simião Chissaque, I’m 43 years old, I’m from Maputo, I’m not officially married, I have a son. I am a tuner and repairer of pianos and I have no stage name, because I am of the opinion that what makes someone an artist is a harmonious set of individual qualities. What matters is a person showing quality work, being honest, fair, having respect with someone else and with people in general, but above all be dedicated and love the work you do. Anselmo or Chissaque are the biggest names in Mozambique in the area of tuning and repairing pianos, depending on how each person wants to call me.
B&W – When did the piano tuner begin?
B.C:Since the day I was selected in 2006, in a weeklong workshop, from April 15th to 21st of that year. I attended the music course at the National School of Music, but I was already learning to play the piano as my instrument of preference or passion.
Then, in that same year, an Organization called MUSIC FUND, which had a partnership with the National School of Music, since 2005, started conducting its workshop activities to train technicians for the repair, maintenance and tuning of musical instruments, in a first phase piano and wind instruments.
That way, after the selection they gave me a 3 month scholarship in September of the same year to continue this piano tuning and repair training in Belgium and because they liked my skill they gave me another 3 month scholarship, in 2008, and in the same year I received information about a scholarship to go to study in France, in the academic period in Europe from 2008 to 2009 at the Institut Tecnologique de Metier de la Musique (ITEMM), in the city of le Mans where I did an intensive year at full time (all day at the gym).
B&W – What does it mean to be a piano tuner in Mozambique?
B.C:It means a great challenge. First, because the piano is still an instrument that is not common here among us, and I have observed that even for some serious concerts, the use of keyboady or, on the other hand, keyboards, as it is well known in the square, is still frequent.
Second, the area of tuning and repairing musical instruments in Mozambique, although we are counting a few years of work, is still a strange profession for a part of society, but the fact that we now have the National School of Music, the School of Music Communication and Arts and some musicians with extensive experience in the sector, efforts have been made to open private schools of music, this has helped to a great extent to leverage my work, because in a way, these segments have broadened and evolved part considerable number of instrumentalists.
Third, Mozambique is still a market under construction almost in many sectors, particularly in culture, by that I mean that the market does not yet offer regular work specifically in my area of tuning and piano repair, it is still normal to remain a month or two months without work and this is linked to the weak power of supply and consumption, which is why in many cases what is charged with the work I do still does not correspond to the real price of the work, but to balance objective conditions locations. And do not make comparisons with other countries that are already advanced in the sector. For example, in South Africa, the market is already more evolved and can be compared with the European market.
B&W – Is it possible to live from this art in Mozambique?
B.C: Yes, it is possible, but with great effort and I think the previous answer already justifies this question.
B&W – In the context of confinement associated with the state of public calamityimposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, several sectors face a real crisis. What challenges do you have for yourself?
B.C: Well, it is more than clear, all sectors are affected, particularly culture and tourism, which is the area in which I operate, so it would not be an exception for my side not to suffer from this crisis, there are enormous difficulties, as is the domain of everyone who cultural events are prohibited, including other sectors that indirectly support our area, such as parties and weddings, although there is a small opening in this area, but it is not yet possible to sustain the sector.
B&W – In what kind of actions have you participated or carried out in order to participate in the fight against this Covid-19 pandemic?
B.C:Now, this is a pertinent and important issue of the moment, linked to our survival and the message is more than clear to all of us, the difference is in the way each of us faces and assumes the responsibility of being a member in the prevention against this pandemic. Now, to answer the question specifically, I personally do not tire of appealing whenever necessary to those who still do not believe that this disease exists and actually kills because, speaking the truth. There are still people who do not comply with preventive measures or a State of Emergency. To this end, another way I found to raise people’s awareness, for example, at the Casa de Pianos in Mozambique, all people who enter there must disinfect their hands, the use of the mask is mandatory and, above that, we put masks on sale in a symbolic price,
B&W – What is the moment considered a milestone in your career that has been going on for a decade?
B.C:There are several moments: first in 2006, when I went to Belgium, we deserve the visit of Queen Paola of Belgium, now it is renovated, it was a private and secret visit, we could not tell anyone, that it was not to awaken the Media. And why did that move me? Everyone said that even for the Belgians it was not easy to see the queen, much more closely, to exchange some expressions with her. I was lucky they said.
The other moment was when I received an email from Lukas Pairon and it said the following:
Dear Anselmo, we miss you in Belgium
I am now together with Pol In Kinshasa where we are working in the music school (INA) to repair the pianos
I have very special news for you. I have found a school in France for you (ITTEM) in Le Mans, south of Paris, which is willing to accept you to follow a course of one year in piano repair and tuning from September 2008 on.
You need to get in touch with Mr Champaul at Center Franco Mozambique and ask him to put you in touch with the French Embassy in Maputo to find out whether they can pay and organize a French language course for you in Maputo
I will also contact them to explain the project to them please keep me informed about this.
Believe me, I jumped for joy reading this email.
The other memento was when I had the credibility to be trusted to provide tuning services at the biggest classical music festival in Mozambique, at the time the artistic director was Moira Forjaz because she demonstrated mine before and after in terms of making sure that I had already I know how to tune pianos, it was not because I was unique, but because I was sure and privileged to provide services at a high level festival, in the background with top musicians and from all over the world.
B&W – What is Chissaque’s big dream?
B.C:My big dream is one day to see this consolidated piano tuning and repair market, expanding into other provinces with regular work. It is true that I have already been to Nampula, Beira and Inhambane. I would also like one day to be able to set up a large studio, well equipped with international standards to be able to do any type of piano repair operations, but for this it requires a large investment. But it is not so regrettable, because so far this work has resulted in the foundation of CASA DE PIANOS DE MOÇAMBIQUE, a shop selling musical instruments and a repair shop, by the way, I believe, it is the first of its kind here in Mozambique, which brings together the two components of sale and repair of musical instruments, but it is still a project under development.
B&W – Have you had family support in the challenges of your career?
B.C:Yes, I do, and I say that without my family my training in this area would not have been possible. First in April 2006, when Pol de Winter chose me and told me to go and inform my family that Music Fund wanted to take me to Europe, the first person I informed was my mother and she, without hesitation, said it’s okay my son go if it’s for your good, he gave me a lot of strength and told me to go and tell my father, who also gave me a lot of strength. The information was of great emotion on their part, also because it was the first time in the history of the family that this happened. Just like when I receive my European friends, they have been welcomed into my family.
Not only that, note that on the last trips I made I no longer lived with my parents, that is, when I traveled my family kept looking after and taking care of my home.
B&W – Do you have any awards for professionalism in your area?
B.C:No. But I believe that one day I will, but it should be noted that I already have recognition and certification from the legal entities of Mozambique granted by the National Authority for Professional Education (ANEP), level 5, in repair and tuning of pianos, and I think that ANEP did it correctly and fair, because before that I did not have this recognition. I mean, my certificate was valid outside my country, it wasn’t here, it saddened me a lot, seeing some people being called technicians and being paid for that category, but in fact these same technician people have nothing, there is nothing tangible or concrete work they do.
B&W – How have you filled your free time?
B.C:Whenever I can, with my neighbor friends, on weekends we have been running in the area for 30 to 40 minutes, at a distance of about 3 kilometers, but not always that happens because sometimes I have had work on the weekends- weekends, as well as holidays, following what my teacher Pol De Winter always said: Never say no. For the work. That is to say, make a commitment to the society that consumes these services and whenever it is requested, even if it is a weekend or holiday, never put obstacles and say no to the customer, with excuses of being Saturday, Sunday or holiday. Why, according to my teacher, it stimulates customer confidence and they start looking at me, and this is true because I can see results
Not only, notice that, many people like someone to provide services in their residence in their presence, and, I think it is for the sake of curiosity and security and that is good, on my part also because it makes me feel calm and whenever thing to clarify the customer is close by, this is already good.
B&W – A message for your admirers
B.C: Well, I have to thank, first for the opportunity that the newspaper Preto & Branco gave me to share my experience in the area of piano repair and tuning, but in particular for the journalist Alexandre Mabasso and for his production team, my very thanks for the patience you have had to wait so long.
Second, to thank the entire Music Fund team for giving us training opportunities in this area of repairing musical instruments that did not exist here in Mozambique. It is a project that in total has seven technicians already trained by this organization but each in its own area, in the area of piano, wind instruments, guitars, violins and sound technicians, but my special thanks goes to my teacher who selected me in 2006 Pol De Winter, owner of the Pianomobile company in Belgium, Lukas Pairon founder of Music Fund, Hurelle my tuning teacher at Pianomobile, to Jens, also from Pianomobile who taught me transport techniques for handling and transporting pianos.
I am grateful to the entire Milano Musica team, but especially to Cecília Balestra, director of Milano Musica and representative of the Music Fund in Italy, the same organizer of the great festival of contemporary music in Milano, Italy.
My thanks go out to the French embassy and the Belgian consulate for financing my scholarships, to the Centro Cultural Franco Moçambique. To my colleagues at the National School of Music for the strength they always give me. As well as I thank the general public because in addition to the family support that I have, I also feel the greatest affection and support from Mozambican society.