HAPPENED TODAY - On December 7, 1887, the pianist and composer Ernst Toch was born in Leopoldstadt

Enrico Guerzoni

Enrico Guerzoni, good morning. Thank you for your interest in our website and for your willingness to answer our questions. Can you tell us about your training as a cellist? Were there other musicians in the family? Where did you graduate and with whom?
I started my studies for a few months with the recorder, and after a while I entered the Conservatory by chance choosing the cello, because there were no other instruments available, studying and graduating with Maestro G. Sassi.

After the Conservatory, what other specializations?
After my cello diploma, I occasionally attended various masterclasses with various masters, F. Rossi, S. Palm, M. Brunello, R. Filippini and I graduated from the three-year and two-year course respectively in music for multimedia use and music applied.

Can you remind us of the main stages of your career: concerts, tours, and orchestras you played with?
As soon as I graduated, I almost immediately started playing as a first cello in orchestras initially formed for festivals, then gradually more and more important as the Toscanini of Parma and the Teatro Comunale of Bologna, where I won the competition and with whom I collaborated for 13 years. At that time and later, I had the opportunity to collaborate with known conductors such as Muti, Abbado, Delman, Sinopoli, etc. with singers like Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras, Freni, Ghiaurov, Kabaivanska etc, and many solo instrumentalists who played with the orchestras in which I played, including first of all the Solisti Veneti, with whom I took part in touneè in most of the world, the Regionale Marchigiana, the Sinfonica Siciliana, the Filarmonia Veneta, the Sinfonica Italiana and many others, including the Dubai Philharmonic Orchestra, which no longer exists.

After a very classic journey, you expanded your horizons to different musical genres. Quite right? Can you talk about it?
From a very young age, my musical interests also focused on fusion, jazz and rock music and I enjoyed making arrangements and transcriptions for Bolognese underground groups. I was always looking for cellists from the past who had contaminated the cello with other styles. Then I started studying jazz, and I started playing mostly with groups that went beyond the classical context, where I was stimulated by improvising and creating melodies and counterpoints to existing thematic parts, which were performed by instruments or voices. I had the opportunity to collaborate in this context with internationally renowned musicians with whom I worked closely, such as Bobby McFerrin, Trilok Gurtu, Paolo Fresu, G. Mirabassi, S. Battaglia, T. Ciavarella, but also in the “world” of pop, A. Bocelli, A. Ruggiero, F. Battiato, Zucchero, Dalla, Finardi and many others.

Do not miss career as a composer: what are your interests and what types of compositions do you prefer to dedicate yourself to?
At the end of the 90s, after having spent a period in Paris where I had the opportunity to get in touch with very interesting and stimulating musical realities, such as the violinist Pierre Jazzhard’s string group, I decided to found a quartet of ‘arcs very eclectic, the Arkè, with which to undertake a journey of experimentation, also using electric instruments, and with which there is no possibility of precluding any styles, then we performed from classical to rock and jazz, with original compositions that slowly they were delineating themselves. This vein of composition then led to the eight string quartets I composed over the years and of which all eight scores were printed by three publishers, the last of which, the Japanese Da Vinci Musical Edition from Osaka, also printed CDs with all eight quartets.

A reference also to your activity as an arranger: did it represent an important piece in the construction of your artistic personality? Can you talk about it?
The fact of forming and taking part in groups of different backgrounds inevitably led me to have to make compositions, transcriptions, and ad hoc arrangements for every type of instrumental training I was in, whether they were of multi-ethnic or jazz music. Then they started commissioning arrangements for groups, festivals, etc. which I continue to do with pleasure. Even when I enter the recording studio as a cellist by now most of the time I don’t just do parts that sometimes have written to me: we already know that, if they call me, it’s because they want me to record something of my own.

And teaching? What weight does this activity have within your experience as a cellist? Where and how long did you teach?
I taught for years privately and in music schools. In the last 5 years, I have taught and I am teaching at the “preaccademico” of the Bologna Conservatory. It is an activity that I really like and in this case too the students who wish to do so teach me a different style from classical music and some “trick” to get closer to other genres like jazz or rock.

Let’s talk about the present: what are you doing? Are you working on any CDs?
At the moment I am working on my next album with my son Tiziano, also a cellist, with whom I have been playing for the past four years in the “GuerzonCellos project”. The first CD consisted of rock and jazz covers arranged for two cellos. The next, due out in the summer of 2019, will almost all be our original compositions, and some revisiting of progressive rock and jazz songs that I still don’t reveal … but I assure you that it will be a surprise. Moreover, they are always grappling with the development of string writing and compositional research in general with the “the modern string project” project. I have just finished a theatrical work staged a couple of weeks ago at the Teatro delle Moline in Bologna, where I performed my compositions using the electric cello and electronic effects.

Which cello do you play? Do you use different instruments when you propose different musical genres?
At the moment I’m using both an anonymous cello from the mid-1800s, and a modern instrument by Alessandro Urso. More and more often I also use the electric cello in situations that require it (I use a Ned Steimberger with mainly Earth Tone effects) such as when there is a battery on stage, or even as a musical choice to make the best use of electronic effects, although it is also true that excellent results can be achieved even with traditional acoustic instruments.

In recent years, the cello is gaining a great deal of interest, even outside the sphere of classical music: what do you think is the reason?
It can be said that there are many more “cellophane” than once. The reason is very simple: because it is the most beautiful musical instrument of all! Joking aside, I think it is a very complete tool that can master the scene as a soloist and also be used as an accompaniment tool as an alternative to a bass, or as a countermelody and harmony and, over time, this what we begin to understand more and more with the consequence that more and more people use the versatility of the cello in many musical situations. Proof of this is the fact that there are cellos ensembles, while there are no orchestras exclusively of violins or clarinets for example, or at least not with the same results.

Thank you very much for your willingness and kindness in responding. Best wishes for your career, in its many aspects.