HAPPENED TODAY - On July 31, 1816, the composer Josef Fiala died in Donaueschingen

Dear Maestro Umberto Pedraglio, thank you for agreeing to answer the questions in this interview and for the consideration given to our website.
Can you tell us about your family? Do you have cellists or musicians in your family? Can you tell us something about it? Have you been encouraged by your city, Como, to became a musician? How did you discover of the cello, actual”companion” of your life?.
My parents are craftsmen. My father, a sportsman (former cyclist) who studied by the Brera Fine Arts Academy, was a polishist / painter / decorator and got involved in socio-cultural activities related to the territory as well. My mother, of Apulian origins, has always been a caring person and used to take good care of minimal details, mainly in her work as seamstress. Although not musicians, my parents always gave me the tools to cultivate my great passion: music. From an early age, in fact, I loved spending whole afternoons playing toy instruments and contemplating the world of sounds; my parents first directed me to private piano lessons and then to the local Conservatory of Music, a true musical reference point for the city of Como. It was there that I met the cello, an instrument that I appreciated more and more through my studying and the concerts I frequently attended with my relatives. I particulary remember one among these: it was the spring of 1990 and a string quartet was performing in Como, at the historical Salone Musa. The performers came from abroad and performed music unknown to me, with unusual sounds and dissonant harmonies, which I was listening to for the first time: they were the Arditti String Quartet who proposed a program with masterpieces by Kurtag (Op 28), Bartok (Quartet n. 4) and Ligeti (Quartet 2). Even if I didn’t fully understand, by that time, the meaning of of such a music, I remember that I was very impressed by the sound and the cellist’s performance: I still have the autograph of Rohan de Saram and I think that somehow it was a sign of destiny to meet him.
Can you briefly describe the first period of your cello’s studying? With which teachers and in which Conservatory of Music?.
I started studying cello by the Como Conservatory under Guido Boselli. With him I was able to face an unconventional course of study, often experimenting with the study of contemporary scores, even in chamber formations, since he himself has always been a performer, thus maintaining a parallelism between the traditional and the modern repertoire. At the conservatory I also had the great opportunity to meet the baroque player Paolo Beschi (historical cellist of the Giardino Armonico), with whom I studied quartet for several years, and who taught me to sink with love and passion the roots in the past.
After the Masterclasses and Specialization courses you took part of, who are the the most representative and relevant musical figures who brought you to your professional career ?.
Particularly crucial for me was surely the meeting with Enrico Bronzi, an extraordinary musician with a deep musical sensibility. He represented a turning point for me, stimulating my imagination a lot and giving me the tools to play the cello with ever greater awareness. But I cannot fail to mention the great Giovanni Gnocchi, Stefano Cerrato, Siegfried Palm and Giovanni Sollima, to whom I am particulary attached: with his versatility, and acting as an example himself, he was the first one who suggested to me also to perform my music. I believe that the simultaneous training received as a cellist and composer also influenced my overall maturity. While I was attending a specialization course with Sollima in Brescia, I was also perfecting myself in composition with Azio Corghi, for example. This put me in a privileged position especially in relation to those scores that require a peculiar capacity for analysis and understanding; I mean, for example, scores that have never been performed and never I could have listened to.
You have got several teachers in Composition and of great value: was your interest towards the Composition growing in the same way as for the cello?.
I was lucky enough to study Composition with great names on the international scene (George Benjamin, Azio Corghi, Wolfgang Rihm, Alessandro Solbiati, Ivan Fedele, etc). Without taking anything away from all the others and from my first teacher Carlo Ballarini, from whom I obviously learned a lot, Ivan Fedele was undoubtedly the one who marked me most profoundly, somehow changing forever my life as a musician. Ivan Fedele, with great intelligence, has been been able to fully open the doors to contemporaneity, putting me in contact with a deeper and never explored part of me. Even in this case, however, the aptitude to write for for cello wasn’t born within a single training course. The world of composition and music interpretation merged in me in a natural way, thus leading me to write and perform more and more often scores for cello, even in different formations: solo cello, duo with piano, chamber ensemble, solo cello and strings, cello and orchestra etc. I would say that the writing for cello came out of my personal need to give a single voice to my vision and my musical thought.
You are the Artistic Director of the Polifonie Cultural Association: can you tell us about this association? Which kind of activities do you carry out within your association and which are your competences as coordinator of the same?.
The main objectives of the Polifonie Cultural Association are related to the promotion and dissemination of culture, music and art, among new generations, particularly enhancing contemporary classical music. For this the Association founded an ensemble dedicated to the enhancement of new music, the Appassionato Ensemble. It organizes educational and youth activities, as well as seminars, conferences, international composition competitions and concerts open to the public, particularly dedicated to the 20th century music and world premiere performances. As the Artistic Director of the association I take care of organizing and managing these activities, which are carried out with a great spirit of collaboration by the members, in order to be able to share the results in cultural events of a certain quality, but at the same time accessible to all. Personal commitment makes the difference and, in certain sense, it is salso a social duty. I must say that, fortunately, I am surrounded and helped by very passionate peoplein animated by a great spirit of collaboration.
In the piece “Katharsis” for cello and orchestra (2013)that you perform with the “Orchestra Sinfonica G. Verdi” from Milan – excerpt – despite its brevity, it’s very evident a dominant dark and dramatic sound introduced by flashes of strings appearances.
“Katharsis” for cello and orchestra is the first among two concertos I wrote for cello. It is a very important score for me because it represents me in a dualism that affirms the realization of a dream: being a composer and cellista s well. The path that the cello takes within the composition is a sort of journey into the unconscious that organizes the function of the orchestra in compositional terms, which in fact acts as a resonator. The dramaturgy of the piece, as the title suggests, refers more to a concept of liberation, or if you like, to a principle of liberation of the spirit which, as in a dream, is free to roam in its own inner universe.
Would you like to talk to us about your recordings? Which recording companies have you worked and which are the authors?.
I dedicated a musical interlude in my life, when I was younger, in order to tackle other musical genres, especially jazz music. I took part in several musical projects and concerts and in many of those occasions recording projects have been realized. I remember a recording with Arrigo Cappelletti and Flavio Minardo for MAP Records, where I enjoyed the insertion of unconventional sounds (noises) on the cello. I also recall a very interesting work of musical contamination, performed on music by Bill Evans with the “ Roberto Mattei Octet”, recorded for Abeat Records. By that time, I also had founded a string quartet together with my friend Davide Alogna. Togheter we performed countless times in a café concert by the wonderful setting of Villa D’Este in Cernobbio (Como Lake), having a lot of fun in performing music transcribed by me, time to time, for such the occasion. On that occasion we recorded, togheter with Paolo Tomelleri by the legendary Murec Studio in Milan, a piece commissioned by me for the “Carosello” exhibition at the well known Enrico Fornello contemporary art gallery in Prato.
In your musical orientation, is there an authentic and very strong interest in contemporary music? Isn’t it? Can you explain your strong interest towards the 900? (And towards the 2000?).
I have always been a creative and curious person. I like to explore the world of sounds, looking for new timbres and new forms, discovering new languages and experimenting with them. It makes me feel like a child again, in a way, it’s almost a game. But behind my scores there is always an architecture, another great passion of mine, and a vision, or rather an idea; the writing allows me to communicate my musical thought and to have the possibility of sharing it with anyone, even when I am no longer there, to feel part of a whole. Furthermore I really like playing contemporary music. Being the first to perform (when facing a world premiere) the musical idea of another musician, observing today’s trends, following individual and collective way of thinking from all over the world, discovering how cello’s writing develops and its capability to communicate its wonderful musical potencial, all of this it’s very rewarding to me.
You teach in a Music High School: as a privileged observer and as a part of the teaching, what do you think about teaching music in Italy? For example, regarding the enhancement of the musical heritage, organization, programs, real preparation for a very demanding professional world.
Musical education in Italy is the result of a reform that tends to align itself with European canons, according to the primary / secondary / university model, but unfortunately it is still incomplete. In fact, we have planned, but active only in the form of sporadic experiments (DM8), specific educational paths for primary schools, but in fact we begin to study a musical instrument in secondary schools, ie at 11 years of age. Too late in my opinion. In my opinion, the preparatory aspect that allows an individual to come into contact naturally with musical instruments, from an early age, offering him the opportunity to develop a logical, expressive and communicative maturity also necessary to guide his own potential is totally missing. In fact, we must not forget that playing a musical instrument is not just a specialization, it provides opportunities for integration and growth even for those who are at a disadvantage, it falls within the sphere of the individual’s global education and offers the possibility of developing a more aware awareness of oneself and of the way of relating to society, in the practice of ensemble music, for example, through the sharing of rules. We have many examples all over the world, but in Italy, unfortunately, music is still seen only as a passion, a hobby, and thus increasingly concerns only the people who have chosen to specialize in music, isolating themselves in spite of themselves. I believe that in this way people are sadly deprived of an indispensable education for the cultural growth of an entire society. Even from an organizational point of view, therefore, the enhancement of the musical heritage and programming, in my opinion, are affected by this serious cultural and educational lack.
G. Sollima will perform your new composition “Prelude and Allemanda”: what can you tell us about this combination and when will the premiere take place?.
Prelude and Allemanda is a piece for solo cello that I recently wrote inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite in G Major BWV 1007. Dedicated to Giovanni Sollima, the piece was conceived as a function of a new recording project by the artist – the integral execution of the six Suites by J.S.Bach, starting from the ‘presumed’ manuscript of Anna Magdalena, with music by other composers related to the Six Suites and involves the use of two different instruments: a traditional cello, and an alternative second cello, or the hay cello by the sculptor Julia Artico. With an experimental and innovative notation, my score represents a transfiguration in a modern key of the ancient Renaissance and Baroque dances from which it takes its inspiration, and is a piece of sound, timbre and aesthetic research. Without disengaging from a personal compositional idea and from one’s own poetics, therefore, it reflects my privileged way of understanding concert today, in a combination of music and other arts that dialogue with each other, between past and present. Unfortunately, the realization of the project is undergoing continuous changes, due to the health emergency situation in which we are, so I cannot say exactly when the first performance will take place. I imagine at this point in 2021.
Another important collaboration is the one with Sandro Laffranchini, as member of “Como Contemporary Festival 2020” (also as Artistic Director). Will he premiere another your pieces?.
Another piece I wrote for solo cello is the one commissioned by Sandro Laffranchini. It is called “Come un commediante” and it comes from a reflection and a request by the cellist from La Scala to “come out” of his role as orchestral player and to explore new musical territories as a soloist. Hence my compositional idea of ‘imprisoning’ the cello and the cellist in a role that, through an almost theatrical writing (not surprisingly Laffranchini works in a theater), can free him from the constraints of the score itself. In the short composition (the duration is about 5 minutes) the repetitiveness and unpredictability of a gesture are related. Here the interpreter is the protagonist of a gradual expressive escalation, which transforms a “tense, almost inanimate” ostinato into a series of almost sudden, noisy and breaking musical gestures. This ineluctable crescendo is counterbalanced by a melancholy song, a sort of crystallized, incessant but at the same time delicate cry, in which the performer can give vent to all his inner lyricism. The song, published by Edizioni Sconfinarte, has been included in the Como Contemporary Festival 2020 programming and its first performance was initially scheduled for June and then in December 2020 but, in compliance with the various DPCM and continuous health restrictions, it has suffered inevitable postponements . It will therefore premiere in 2021.
Can you tell us something about your second concert for cello and orchestra “Drawing of Light”, played by Enrico Bronzi with the “Orchestra Milano Classica”?.
The second cello concert I wrote is entitled “Drawings of Light”. It was commissioned by Enrico Bronzi and it was thought by the artist with the intention to renew the repertoire for cello and string orchestra. My score, which can also be performed without a conductor, is inspired by photography, photographic composition techniques and its processes of musical production explore timbres and registers of cello and strings, particularly focusing on the concepts of vibrato and repetition. The piece is divided into three movements, which retrace, according to my personal interpretation, the process of photographic exposure and development, according for which light is captured and impressed on the film in the most varied ways. In this piece, the cello is treated with extreme sensitivity, drawing fragment of melodies and repeating silences while, in the orchestra, the sound becomes almost dust. The piece, included in the 2018/19 season of the “Orchestra Milano Classica”, was masterfully premiered by Enrico Bronzi as conductor and soloist, on 13th January 2019 by the Palazzina Liberty in Milan. The work is part of a recording project for artist who also provides the performances of other pieces for cello and strings commissioned by other composers of nowaday.
You have also written pieces for piano: “ 3 Pieces”, for solo piano (excerpt), performed by Maria Grazia Bellocchio. Can you tell us about these pieces and in wich occasion were they composed?.
The “3 Pieces” for piano were conceived on occasion of a summer masterclass that I attended in 2010, held by the extraordinary composer and teacher Alessandro Solbiati. The 3 pieces represent a snapshot of the unforgettable suggestions I had during my journey by the Caetani Castle in Sermoneta (Lt), in the heart of a quaint medieval village perched on top of a hill along the Appian Way. The sensation I felt when I saw the plain below, from the top of the castle walls, gave me the inspiration for the compositive idea of the last piece, built on an intense and repetitive gesture as a sort of peaceful ritual. The work opens with an iconic image of the village, where the houses are set as in a fortified fairytale landscape, in which the sound material is clearly dislocated in two contrasting registers. The second piece (the one to which the sound extract refers), quick and light, represents a passage between these two worlds.
What cello do you play ?.
I play a Pierre Auguste Mauchand cello, constructed in the small village of Mirecourt (France) at the end of the 18th century. It is a cello to which I am very fondly attached because it has an ancient and elegant sound. It is always surprising me because of its voluptuousness, even when I play contemporary music and when I look for harsher sounds.
You hold Courses and Masterclasses in Ochsenhausen: how is the “mood” in this German school and where are the differences about the teaching in Germany and Italy?.
In Germany there is a totally different approach to music and culture in comparison in our country. From an educational/didactic point of view, and from an artistic/production point of view, the musician plays an important role within the society and obtains a totally different consideration in comparison with the one that a musician in Italy receives. In Germany due to the fact that musical training is cultivated and guaranteed since the early years of school, there are proportionally only a few people who choose to continue their musical career up to university. By the wonderful “Landesakademie für die musizierende Jugend” in Ochsenhausen (where I have been going for years), I have often attended to young people concerts with students enrolled in high school of music, performing (both as soloists and orchestra members) pieces such as F.B. Mendellshon’s Double Concerto for example, in front of a paying audience of 400 people. What’s wrong? That the performers were not good at all, and neither was the orchestra, but the students were performing together, with great passion and commitment, in front of a large and attentive audience, thus having the opportunity to live an incredible cultural and educational experience first on a human level. Indeed, realizing the very high interpretation/technical difficulties that the world of music brings with it, in itself, a lot of young people choose other paths than music, even if continuing to attend the world of art and culture as spectators, being certainly very much cultured and interested. Therefore, only the most passionate talents continue their training at the university, where they can specialize with the great masters.
Edizioni Sconfinarte: can you tell us about this publishing house and which kind of relationship do you have with it?.
The cooperation with “Sconfinarte” started in 2016, when I received a commission from the “60th International Festival of Contemporary Music La Biennale di Venezia” to write a piece for cello (“Casualmente”) that was recently recorded by the cellist Fernando Caida Greco for the Tactus publishing house and ready to come out in a few months. Since our professional relationship has consolidated more and more, the possibilities to cooperate are multiplying as well the opportunities for publishing and recording my scores. This is the case, for example, of “Incanto” for string quartet, commissioned by the “Indaco Quartet” and by Edizioni Sconfinarte for the realization of a special recording production dedicated to the 7th Anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death (the piece will be recorded in January 2021 by Sconfinarte Edizioni Discografiche). Same situation of “On the tracks of a ghost” for string trio, written and dedicated to the great Ilya Gringolts, Lawrence Power and Daniel Haefliger. Or even “Portrait” for violin and orchestra, that will be premiered by the extraordinary Marco Rizzi. Furthermore, new projects with Fulvio Liviabella (Teatro alla Scala), the Choir of Milan Cathedral (a work based on text by Alessandro Quattrone, E. Montale’s prize), the “Duo Tubi & Corde” and the above mentioned “Appassionato Ensemble”. Shortly, I really believe that there are conditions for a prolific relationship and I also hope it will last.
Dear Maestro Pedraglio, heartfelt thanks for your availability, all the best for your career and any other aspect of your life!.
Thanks to you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts.
Art is life!

I know that you played in Bergamo too, at the International Alfredo Piatti Cello Festival. What do you remember about this experience? Alfredo Piatti is today again a reference for a cellist?
Piatti and his compositions are obviously a reference for a cellist. He developed the technique of our instrument enormously and made his fortune by emigrating to England. An example also for the young people of our time. To play in Sala Piatti, in the presence of that enormous portrait of the Maestro, was an honor and also gave me a certain sense of responsibility.

You are also a famous composer: is this an important aspect of your career? Can you briefly describe your commitment in this area?
To compose is a fundamental part of my life. The cello is movement: airplanes, trains, concert halls, rehearsal rooms, dinners, company. It is the main factor that every day leads me to be in touch with people and with the outside world. To compose is instead that meditative factor that allows me to enjoy the solitude of closed indoors for days, to listen to my emotions and my thoughts and be able to put everything on paper and to really grow up. I started composing for myself, to study and to develop my imagination and my musical consciousness so that my playing cello could reach levels that the only study on the instrument could not allow.
Soon, however, commissions arrived, invitations as “composer in residence” and then I began to compose for the public too. My last commission in order of time came from the Zurich Philharmonic Orchestra, who asked me for a piece for cello, harp, and orchestra that will be performed in March 2020.

Which cello do you play and how did you choose it?
Now I play an Evasio Emilio Guerra, a cello of the early 1900s. I am very grateful to the patron who entrusted it to me because it is a beautiful instrument, with an exceptional sound projection that allows me a particular “comfort” in every acoustic situation. But I must confess that I have not yet found the cello that acts “my” voice. I have a color clearly in mind, with all its nuances, and I look forward to the day when I and that cello meet!

Thank you so much for your kindness. Best wishes for your career as a musician and composer.

Good morning Alessio Pianelli. Thank you for your interest in our website and our readers.

At what age did you approach the music? In your family, did anyone already play the cello or any other instrument?
Music has always had a fundamental role in my life. When I was a child, I started playing the piano together with my dad, a jazz pianist. When I was 10 years old, I met the cello and my first teacher, Giovanni Sollima.

Can you tell us something about your studies up to the diploma, and about your first teachers?
Until graduation, I studied exclusively with Giovanni Sollima. I met him in the Conservatory of my town, Trapani. After a few years he moved to the Conservatory of Palermo and, of course, I followed him until the graduation, in 2007. I have always seen him as a father. He never imposed anything on me, he never told me how to study, or imposed on me an arch or fingering, even in the years near the diploma. He played together with me and, always together, we approached the technique directly on the repertoire pieces. He always encouraged me to be curious, to find the highest number of possible solutions to a single problem, avoid focusing only on cello, and classical methods. In a few words, I tried to develop as many points of view as possible, to be free to find “my” solutions, always serving my instinct.

After graduation, how did you improve your knowledge of the cello?
After graduation, I remained in Sicily a year, to complete my high school studies. Then, I participated in a few Masterclasses with Mario Brunello, Massimo Polidori, Maria Kliegel and Reinhard Latzko. After the experience of one year as principal cello at the “Orchestra 1813” of Como’s Teatro Sociale, I met Thomas Demenga, who invited me to study with him at the Hochschule für Musik in Basel. Demenga welcomed me making me feel all his appreciation for my “freedom”. He was able to guide me towards the direction of academic rigor, avoiding any traumatic way. He taught me the importance of simplicity, clarity, and honesty. I learned not to be obsessed with career and short term results, focusing mainly on the learning process.

In your curriculum, there are already important acknowledgments: could you remember the most important ones?
The most important acknowledgments for me are the simplest and least conspicuous ones. I remember the tears of a lady and her very strong hug, that lasted an eternity, after a concert in Ukraine, a few months ago, or even the eyes of a student and her “Grazie” at the end of my Masterclass in the summer of 2016. When I understand I’ve really touched the soul of a person, I can recognize the real power of my music. If instead, we want to talk about awards that would have made my career easier, the most important are the Prizes the Janigro, the Mazzacurati, the Renzo Giubergia Competitions, and then the Borletti Buitoni Fellowship.

What about your CD? What are the record companies with which you have produced the CD? What are your short-term projects?
I recorded chamber music for Claves, Nami Records, and Concerto. I also regularly collaborate with Almendra Music, a Sicilian label founded in 2012 with which I have already recorded a CD for cello and piano dedicated to Beethoven, Brahms and Hindemith and two CD, “Prelude” and “Sulla Quarta” for solo cello. These last two are part of a 6-album project. Each CD includes the presence of a Bach Suite, combined with contemporary music or the largely unpublished 1900s. It is, therefore, an integral of the Suites, but unveiled over the years: a journey that can tell the intellectual, the timbre and human growth of a musician in his twenty and thirty years. A path of eight or nine years in which, album after record, one of these milestones in the history of music for cello, is flanked by the music of the century just past and the new one, today, close to the culture and perceptions of a born boy in Sicily in 1989. Now, I’m working on a CD for cello and orchestra that, thanks to the collaboration born with Borletti Buitoni of London, will be released in 2020. [to be continued ⇒]

 

 

Magazzino Musica is a large space in the city of Milan dedicated to listening to classical music and to its dissemination. It is also a sale point of instruments (mostly strings, even hand-made instruments), books and musical scores. It is a venue for formal and informal concerts and meetings for musicians and fans. Within this space, in 2017 was borne the Association MaMu Cultura Musicale, a non-profit-making private law body, created to develop the culture, diffusion and knowledge of classical music.
Magazzino Musica was founded in 2015 by Nicola Khitaratzis, a lutist and also a music expert not only for his professional experiences at two of the main music publishers in Milan (Ricordi and Carisch), but also as the creator of the “Carisch Orchestra”. With MaMu he gives a turning point to his profession, dedicating himself to the project of devising and giving shape to a place where is possible to meet and exchange musical experiences in his city, Milan. In 2016, joined him Laura Ferrari after twenty years of publishing experience and web company, where she was responsible, as a brand manager, for one of the most visited economics portal. Nicola coordinates the musical activity and the instrument sector. Laura directs the events, publishing and communication area.
Another collaborator was added to Nicola and Laura: from 2017, Silvia Bertolino follows the didactic and formative aspects. As a musician and a violinist, in particular she takes care of the activity of the amateur chamber group “MaMu Ensemble”. Outside of MaMu, Silvia is a tenured teacher in middle school for the violin class, as well as being an expert in music teaching.
MaMu is a warehouse divided into several sectors: a cafeteria, for reception and refreshment, supported by a half-tail 1909 Bechstein piano. In this space take place musical meetings, presentations and aperitifs in music. Then there is the real stock, with the scores on sale (also used), books about music, CDs, accessories. You cannot miss the instrument room: there live violins, violas, cellos, flutes and clarinets. After these, the laboratory of violinmaker Stefano Gibertoni, where master violin makers repair and build stringed instruments. Events hall: prominent musicians of the music scene entertain the public with concerts dedicated to the most important composers. Books and CDs are presented here, as well as chamber works or are celebrated the birthdays for the great composers with theme evenings.
Here are the upcoming events dedicated to the world of cello.
Sunday, October 21, 2018, at 19.30 the cellist Silvia Chiesa will present at MaMu her latest CD, published by Sony Classical. The CD, like the previous ones, is dedicated to the cello of the Italian ‘900 and in particular to the authors Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco, Gian Francesco Malipiero and Riccardo Malipiero.
For more details: INFO
Sunday 2 December 2018, at 2 pm, an equally interesting meeting, even if of a more playful nature. The MaMu Cultura e Musica Association presents, during the day dedicated to cello, the first edition of “Cello Tenzone”: a real competition dedicated to cello ensembles. The purpose of this event is more than evident: to encourage and stimulate the harmony among cellists, even of different backgrounds and professional levels. There will be no exclusions: the match opens up to groups already close-knit and with proven experience, but also to new groups, born for this occasion. No limits in the repertoire, in the level of scholastic preparation or age. Only one exception to the total freedom of this confrontation: groups must be made up of at least three cellists. To the winners rich prizes: in the jury, among others, also Giovanni Sollima.
For more details: INFO

 

With the International Cello Competition Benedetto Mazzacurati, the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory of Turin, and the whole city, pay homage to a great cellist, Neapolitan by birth, but Turinese by adoption. For years Mazzacurati, in the Conservatory classrooms, cared for young cellists during their artistic and professional growth. For years he played in the Turin orchestras: Eiar, RAI, Teatro Regio.

Born in Naples on September 17, 1898, he died in San Remo on March 29, 1984. Between these two dates, his life was filled with music. After graduating in his hometown in 1915, under the guidance of Francesco Serato, Mazzacurati moved to Northen Italy. In Turin he worked in the orchestra, soon becoming principal cellist, and then devoted himself to teaching, not only his instrument, but also ensemble music, first in Turin and then in Bologna. Here, as President of the Accademia Filarmonica, he dedicated himself with passion and competence to cultural and musical promotion activities. Meanwhile, his professional life was flowing intensively and was full of satisfactions: he played with the “I Virtuosi di Roma” Orchestra d’Archi, in the “Double Quintetto di Torino”, in the “Eiar Quartet” and in the “Italian Trio” (with Nino Rossi and Remy Principe). Nevertheless, he still had time to compose, devoting himself above all to his instrument. Among his compositions are the Borlesca, the nostalgic song and the violin studies of Kreutzer and Fiorillo, which he transcribed for cello, thinking of his students.

Shortly after his death, the family decided to donate to the Conservatory of Turin the precious musical property left by Benedetto Mazzacurati. In 1996 they promoted a cello prize dedicated to Mazzacurati, within the Viotti Competition, but the experience did not have a continuation.
The real competition was born from an idea of ​​M ° Vito Maggiolino, who found a valid support in Valentino Castellani, President of the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory. The direction of the competition is entrusted to Maestro Marco Zuccarini. At the base of the project, the idea of ​​remembering a cellist like Mazzacurati, a scholar of his instrument, a teacher, a musician in orchestras and in chamber groups, can represent a significant emotional experience for every contestant who aspires to achieve important goals, making him at the same time aware of the fact that such goals require method, commitment, determination and above all a lot of effort.

An all-Italian contest, therefore, from an organizational, historical, and musicological point of view, but that also has a strong international projection: to the young promising cellists who wish to show their talent and their artistic personality will be offered a precious opportunity to test themselves in front of a jury of the highest level, composed not only by the most qualified protagonists of the musical world of Turin, such as the Director of the Conservatory Giuseppe Verdi and the Artistic Director of the RAI National Orchestra, but also by the cello world protagonists: Enrico Dindo, Giovanni Sollima, Asier Polo, Jens Peter Maintz, Frans Helmerson.

For the first three places there will be important cash prizes. The winner will have the opportunity to perform in concert with the Unione Musicale di Torino, the Pinerolo International Academy, the Roman Philharmonic Academy, the Musica Insieme Bologna Foundation, the San Remo Symphony Orchestra.

The Benedetto Mazzacurati International Competition includes an elimination round by video, a semi-final and a final with an orchestra. Candidates of all nationalities, born after September 1, 1988, can register for the competition. The semi-final will take place in Turin from 27 September to 4 October 2019 at the Concert Hall of the “G. Verdi “di Torino, via Mazzini 1. The two finals with orchestra will be at the RAI Auditorium in Turin. In the semi-final it will be possible to repeat the sonata chosen for the video. At the disposal of the candidates there will be pianists with great experience: Elena Camerio, Monica Cattarossi, Giorgia Delorenzi, Valentina Mass, Stefano Musso, Andrea Stefanelli, Sandro Zanchi.

The Competition Rules, the Program and the Registration Form that must be submitted online by April 20, 2019.

At the first edition of the contest, in 2016, partecipated 114 violoncellists from all over the world, 18 of them under the age of 18. Finalists were Italian Alessio Pinelli, who won the competition, Julia Hagen and Min Ji Kim.

Giovanni Sollima was born in Palermo in 1962. After studying conservatory (cello and composition) and after interpretations with the great musicians of the period (Abbado, Argerich, Sinopoli …) he undertakes, especially in the composition, a difficult but courageous road of exploration, contamination of different genres, evolution and modernization of the cello. And he wins.

Did we use to be trees to become human beings? Sollima frees the consciences, imprisoned in the roots, in the branches of the trees. The soul that laments its quest for freedom.

This is strange: a few years ago Enzo Gragnaniello, in his equally painful song, “Alberi”, stated exactly the opposite: “Arid and without land, we are poor /without roots we are not free / free to make dreams / fly away “. So who is right? Who is wrong? Is this post-Darwinian evolution looking for a verse or its opposite? Answering is not easy. One more comment on the CD.

Sollima is called the Jimi Hendrix of the cello… Generic statement: who synthesizes new languages is at least unique. Parallelisms or convergences are then impossible geometries. Extraordinary CD. It explores new possibilities and opens up new paths even if not easy to understand and practice. The songs are uneven: which is normal in the music of contaminations. The pace is remarkable, above the standards of certain contemporary music, even new age or cross-over. All the expressive power of the cello is released as if it were an anticipation of Fender and Gibson. Here you find “Violoncelles Vibrez”, the piece by an author still living which is perhaps the most interpreted one: written in 93, it is dedicated to the Master Antonio Janigro. Also, four variations inspired by Luigi Boccherini. “Three Raga Song” and “When we were trees” are the central body of the CD and of the idea that anticipates it: the plant world, the trees, the wood, the acoustic dimension of the cello.

So a hypothesis of evolution that flips through the score: were we trees? In a song improvisations on the voice of Patti Smith accompany pagan litanies of the last universal religion: rock music. Then all the others, no less than the first ones.

We are tree CD