Gabriela Montero is a fascinating and intriguing interviewee even from three thousand miles away.

Our conversation ranged from power and politics, to human rights, the state of her native Venezuela and music as a force for good.

She is the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s artist in residence, the latest in a succession of supremely talented musicians to have held that post, including Sunwook Kim, Johannes Moser and Nemanja Radulovic.

In a move that signals that she is different, Gabriela began her tenure with an impromptu piano performance on Bournemouth Pier last October.

The term ends on February 26 with a recital with the BSO principals at the Lighthouse.

The other dimension to her being different is her unique improvisational gift. It has given her a devoted following around the world. She can take any melody and just run with it, as many audiences have discovered.

She said: “I connect to my audience in a completely unique way – and they connect with me. Because improvisation is such a huge part of who I am, it is the most natural and spontaneous way I can express myself. It has always been part of whom I am, since I was a child. Having said that, I don’t really know how I do it!”

Working with BSO has been a tremendous experience she says.

“It is an orchestra of extremely talented musicians but they are also very nice people too and that’s a wonderful combination. As a soloist I definitely feel that.”

The BSO is much more than an orchestra given the vast amount of community outreach work in education, hospitals and social care, not least its pioneering projects with dementia patients.

But Gabriela says the music must not be forgotten.

“I see it more and more that it is easier for an orchestra to get funding when you are playing under the umbrella of social work and while this is valid I think we should also appreciate music for what it is and for what it brings. Music by itself is also an incredible source of humanity.

“It’s important that governments should understand that music should stand alone as food for the soul.”

She said the balance between the outreach work and the music should be “a comfortable marriage.”

Gabriela was was named an Honorary Consul by Amnesty International in 2015, and recognised for Outstanding Work in the Field of Human Rights by the Human Rights Foundation for her ongoing commitment to human rights advocacy in Venezuela.

She has been an outspoken critic of the current president, Nicolas Madura and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

And she has been aghast at Venezuela’s declining fortunes, criminality, corruption, abuse of power and human rights violations.

Some of this dismay has been expressed through her music.

It had also provided her with a platform and a voice.

“The people of Venezuela have suffered terribly in the last 20 years. When I first began speaking out, people didn’t believe me and most of the world didn’t know was going on. Now everyone knows.”

◾️Gabriela’s BSO Artist-in-Residence recital with the principals is at the Lighthouse on February and features Rachmaninov, Shostakovich and her own compositions and improvisations.