There were some songs that we couldn’t sing. Songs that the government had banned. We knew if we sang them, that our parents would get in trouble because the authorities would want to know ‘who taught you those songs.’ I remember one day when the soldiers came into the house with their guns. Even when the Pinochet regime was most powerful there were small resistance groups and one of them kidnapped a general; so the soldiers went house to house searching for evidence. I ran and hid under the bed, but my grandmother dragged me out of there and told me ‘don’t be silly, they’ll find you there anyway’. She stood her ground with the soldiers. I remember one of them pointing at a locked cabinet and saying, ‘what’s in there’ and her replying sarcastically ‘well that’s where we keep all of our guns of course’. I don’t think they found that very funny. Another time, after a botched assassination attempt on Pinochet, they killed some teachers who they’d accused of preaching left-wing ideology. They dumped their bodies with their throats slit – as a message to the people – ‘don’t mess with us’. They were just gangsters really.

It took me a while to take music seriously. I tended to dabble in different instruments; but somehow, I always knew that music would be in my life. Even when I studied philosophy in my first degree I knew that music would be my career. I teach and compose now; always looking for new ways of understanding contemporary classical music; finding different perspectives and pathways. It’s a thrill to hear my music being performed.

Balancing that cerebral life has been karate. I was a bit of a wild child before age 12, but the discipline of learning to channel my aggression was good for me. I’ve lost my last three bouts though. The younger guys have more wind than me. So I’m wondering whether to keep fighting in tournaments or not. I might compete again next year sometime. We’ll see.

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