HAPPENED TODAY - On June 25, 1837, the cellist and composer Josef Werner was born in Würzburg

On the eve January 8, 1822, the bicentenary of the birth of cellist Alfredo Piatti, Andrea Bergamelli gladly accepts to answer some of my questions to introduce himself, and to introduce the Alfredo Piatti Association, of which he is artistic director.
What were the most significant stages of your artistic training?

Certainly, my artistic training was born in the family. My father, Attilio Bergamelli, is a very active pianist, not only in the field of chamber music, but also in organizing concerts, and therefore I have always grown in contact with music and musicians. I believe I inherited from him, in addition to the passion for music, two objectives: to discover the lesser-known repertoire and to enhance young musicians. In fact, my father founded the “Rare Music Association” and he has always organized musical seasons to give space to young performers. After some initial uncertainty about which instrument was most suitable for me, I chose the cello and began my studies at the Bergamo Conservatory. However, I soon moved to Budapest, where I studied at the “Franz Liszt” Academy with Csaba Onczay. Upon my return to Italy, I obtained my diploma as a private student under the guidance of Giovanni Sollima and I have deepened my studies with Mario Brunello, Antonio Meneses, and the Trio di Trieste. I think that a particularly significant experience for me, both from a human and a professional point of view, was the one with the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, but it was certainly very important to have the opportunity to collaborate not only with Giovanni Sollima, but also with interpreters such as Jörg Demus, Antony Pay, Bruno Canino, Calogero Palermo, Dimitri Ashkenazy

When was your interest in particular for Alfredo Piatti born? And what were the steps that led to the creation of the Associazione Alfredo Piatti?
For any musician who lives in Bergamo, the Sala Piatti is a particularly significant space: a space where you play, but also a meeting space, where bonds of friendship with other musicians are easily intertwined. I believe that all the musicians of Bergamo have wonderful memories of their youth linked to this room: the first essays, the first concerts, the first friends … For a cellist, then, playing under the watchful gaze of Alfredo Piatti, serious and benevolent in his portrait, becomes an even more precious experience. Of course, like all cellists, I got to know his compositions starting from the 12 Capricci, but soon, I dedicated myself to the discovery of his other compositions. An easy task for me, because almost all Piatti’s compositions are kept in Bergamo, in the Fondo Piatti Lochis, and therefore very accessible for a Bergamo cellist. So, already in the late 1980s, before the idea of a real association was born, together with my father, I started performing Piatti’s compositions in public. And then, in June 1997, the Associazione Alfredo Piatti was born. At first, the distant goal was to organize a Festival for Piatti, and the closest goal was to organize the celebrations for the centenary of Piatti’s death in 2001. At the end of the intense activities of 2001, together with my father, I recorded, in a  CD Phoenix Records, two of the six sonatas and other particularly significant chamber compositions by Alfredo Piatti. In the following years, together with my sister Ljuba, who in the meantime had graduated in singing, we dedicated ourselves to spreading also Piatti’s vocal compositions, creating the Trio di Bergamo. The first edition of the Festival Violoncellistico Internazionale Alfredo Piatti, in 2006, was however the most important milestone we reached because, at that time, there was no other Festival entirely dedicated to the cello in Italy.

Andrea, Ljuba and Attilio Bergamelli

In November of this year, the Festival Violoncellistico Internazionale “Alfredo Piatti” reached its sixteenth edition. What are the reasons that prompted the Associazione Alfredo Piatti to give birth to this event and to carry it on, despite a thousand difficulties? What are the results achieved?
The Festival Violoncellistico Internazionale Alfredo Piatti was born with the desire to rediscover Alfredo Piatti’s compositions, not only to the public, but also to cellists. In these sixteen years, we have certainly managed to achieve excellent results in this sense, because today many of Piatti’s compositions are available on CD and are regularly performed by cellists from all over the world. Until the end of the last century, however, the only compositions of Piatti that were really known were the 12 Capricci, op. 25, which constitute a fundamental passage for the growth of cellists. There were very few cellists who knew that Piatti had been a very prolific composer, not only of chamber compositions and compositions for cello and orchestra but also of music for voice, cello, and piano. Certainly, starting the festival and carrying it forward was very difficult, especially in the last years, but we have always been able to count on the support of the MIA Foundation, which guarantees us the availability of the wonderful Sala Piatti, one of the most beautiful concerts halls in Italy, especially from the point of view of acoustics. We, then, had the support of local authorities, bank foundations, and other sponsors who believed in the validity of our project but, above all, we had the availability of great interpreters, such as Antonio Meneses, Giovanni Sollima, David Geringas, Frans Helmerson, who have willingly accepted to give voice to Piatti’s compositions, and of many young cellists who faced the challenge of studying Piatti’s compositions, almost always extremely demanding from a technical point of view, with courage and determination.

What are the projects of the Associazione Alfredo Piatti for the celebrations of Piatti’s bicentenary?
Unfortunately, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, also linked to the pandemic situation, we were forced to cancel at the last moment the Giovanni Sollima concert that we had planned to celebrate on January 8th, but we hope to be able to do it again in the coming months. As soon as the situation has settled, and we can therefore return with greater serenity to the concerts in the presence, in addition to the traditional November festival, we plan to organize concerts that will be held until the end of 2022, and not only in Sala Piatti. In fact, we would also like to create an interweaving of art, culture, and history by enhancing alternative spaces such as the Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai, the Accademia Carrara, and the many historic houses of our territory. We have therefore involved the most important academies where cellists are trained, so that young performers are the protagonists of some of these events. Obviously, Alfredo Piatti’s compositions will not always be performed, but everyone will be asked, as always happens for the Festival, to offer the public an all-around view of the cell repertoire. The details on the individual appointments of this annual season, as soon as the situation allows for a greater definition, will be made public not only through the association’s website but also on the FB pages of Associazione Alfredo Piatti e del Festival Violoncellistico Internazionale Alfredo Piatti.

And what are the plans for a not so immediate future?
In 2023, Bergamo and Brescia will be European Capitals of Culture and we are working to activate a close collaboration with the Associazione Bazzini of Brescia. The violinist Antonio Bazzini and Alfredo Piatti were very friends as well as colleagues and it seems very nice that even the associations named after them can collaborate as good friends. In the future, we would like to expand the collaboration network to other associations similar to ours, such as the Associazione Bottesini of Crema or the Servais Society of Halle. Among the most distant dreams, there is certainly an international cell competition dedicated to Piatti, in his city.

Thanks, Andrea, for your availability with best wishes for 2022 full of good music!

January 6, 2022

 

 

On March 5, 1778, the cellist and composer Giovanni Battista Costanzi (Giovannino del violoncello) died in Rome. MyCello remembers him by proposing a music video and the score of his Cello Sonata in C.

I meet Arianna Trusgnach returning from Macerata, where she was one of the “100Cellos” of the concert at the Sferisterio. I take this opportunity to ask you a few questions.
When did you start playing the cello and why the cello?
I started playing it when I was fourteen. At the time I was studying piano and the director of the music school I attended told me that they were about to set up a new cello course. Since they couldn’t find any students, he proposed that I do it because he knew that I loved music very much. I told him that I couldn’t ask my parents to pay me double tuition and also buy me another instrument. Then he reassured me by saying that they would give me one on loan for use and that I would only pay for the piano. At that point, it was instinctive for me to say yes. When they put the cello in my arms for the first time it was love at first sight. I cannot and do not know how to describe the sensations that this instrument gave me as I would like, but I decided that it had to be “my instrument”. I continued studying the piano and the cello for another three years, then I took the complementary private piano exam at the Tomadini Conservatory in Udine and decided to continue my musical studies only with the cello. The problem is that in September I found myself without a teacher. He had moved elsewhere and where I live, in Friuli, on the border with Slovenia, it is difficult to find someone who will come and teach you because he is slightly out of touch with the world. So I had to return my cello to the school on loan and I never had the opportunity to play it again. I had always promised myself, however, that sooner or later I would buy one and start studying it again. So it was. After twenty years I purchased it and now I have been studying it with great passion for six years, together with my two daughters Agnese and Cecilia.
I, as I have already explained before, play the piano and also the guitar, but you cannot perceive the vibrations that the cello gives off with any other instrument. When you hug it, you feel protected by its deep and regenerating sound. I have had dark moments in my life and playing Bach on the cello, as I always tell everyone, was salvation for me: better than a psychologist!

How did you hear about the existence of “100Cellos” and when, for the first time, you were one of them?
My cello teacher, Mariano Bulligan, had often spoken to me about the “100Cellos”. He had participated with them in the meetings of Rome, Milan, Budapest, and Turin. It intrigued me and I signed up for their Facebook page. One day I read that there would be a reunion in Vicenza on a famous TV show. The message invited all those who could play the cello, from beginners to professionals, to join this wonderful project. I asked my daughter Agnese what she thought of it and she told me to try it. So I sent the candidacy of both and we were taken. I did not believe it! A dream of my life was coming true. Thus we participated in Italia’s Got Talent with a single song: The Best Rock Riffes vol.1, an excursus of rock from the nineteenth century to the present that Enrico Melozzi arranged for the occasion. They moved from Smoke on the Water to the famous Pulp Fiction riff to Mussorgski, and then played Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and ended up with Queen’s flamenco solo by Innuendo. This track then became one of the “100Cellos” flagships. I still remember the panic when the part arrived: only two days before the recording of the episode! I began to study it like a mad woman and the day before we received the message: “Guys, you have to learn it by heart because on stage we are not there with lecterns. Too little space. We will also have to stand up! ”. I studied twelve hours without any interruption and our performance was a huge success, so much so that there was an unforgettable standing ovation.

Which meetings of the “100Cellos” did you attend and which was the most beautiful for you?
After the meeting in Vicenza, my daughter Agnese and I participated in the one in Ravenna, a “seven days” of full immersion in the cello world at the Ravenna Festival of Muti, where we could get to know and listen to the great cello elf Rushad Eggleston, to that of Rome, in which we played at the Circus Maximus in front of forty thousand people during the 2017 New Year countdown, at Lucca Classica Music, at the Como Città della Musica Festival, where we were also directed by Maestro Beppe Vessicchio, in Teramo, in the city of our master Enrico Melozzi, and in L’Aquila, for the inauguration of Il jazz per le terre del sisma, an event directed by the great Paolo Fresu. At the meetings in these two cities, for the first time, my youngest daughter also participated whose dream had always been to wear the “100Cellos” t-shirt (I’ll tell you a secret: she started playing the cello just for this reason !).
Only a week later I was already trying in the magical Spasimo of Palermo, the city of our other great master Giovanni Sollima, and then playing with all my “100Cellos” companions at the Teatro Verdura. The last meeting we attended was at the Macerata Opera Festival, inside the wonderful Sferisterio. Here we even had the honor of playing with the PFM!
The most beautiful meeting? In reality, something magical happens every time, but if I really have to choose, give me the possibility of a double option: Como, because I met fantastic people with whom an indelible bond was created and why I had the loveliest cellist of the world as a music stand companion, and Macerata, where we had the honor of playing in a wonderful place, the Sferisterio, in front of a very warm audience. Here everything was fantastic, even the convivial moments, that we always lived together: we had so much fun that even now, thinking about it, my smile comes on.

But are the “100Cellos” really 100? And who are they?
The “100Cellos” are, above all, Giovanni Sollima and Enrico Melozzi, the creators of this incredible visionary project born during the occupation of the Teatro Valle in Rome in 2012. Finding themselves together, a dozen cellists said: “Why not create an orchestra of 100 cellos?” The enterprise seemed titanic and impossible. Instead, the answer went beyond all expectations. The “100Cellos”, in fact, are sometimes even more than 100 and it is hard to accept all the applications. They are professional cellists, conservatory and music school students, and amateurs, all normally aged between 8 and 70 who have a great passion for this wonderful instrument. They come from all over Italy and the world (Japan, USA, Turkey, Germany, Holland, Slovenia, Spain, etc.). It is a group in progress: the components change with each reunion. Some of them, about twenty people, constantly show up at each appointment. These are great cellists, many of them students of Giovanni Sollima. They are the backbone of the whole group and always teach their “tricks” to those in need with great humility and availability.
Who are the “100Cellos”? One hundred friends united by the love for music and the desire to let the public know the versatility of their instrument outside of any pure academicism.

How are the meetings organized? (Is there a selection of participants?) If yes, who does it? Who prepares the arrangements? What criteria are the parts assigned to the various cellists? How many tests do you make? Who takes care of the logistics?
The “100Cellos” are a social group so, if you want to participate in a reunion, you need to always keep an eye on their Facebook page. A few months before, in fact, the city where the next concert will be held is announced and cellists are invited to register in the format on the site. The following are required: level of knowledge of the instrument, a brief description of one’s own cello history, her own magic move on the cello, a photo with your instrument, in which section you would like to play, and which reunion you attended. Generally, the parts are conferred based on the requests made by the cellists. Sometimes it happens to be assigned to a different section, but the important thing is to be flexible and also accept this challenge because in this group the soloists, the union, and the team spirit are not so important.

The arrangements are always prepared by Giovanni Sollima and Enrico Melozzi, our masters. We also performed pieces arranged by other historical members of the group, such as Andrea Cavuoto and Andres Lopez.
The reunions normally last three days, of which two are dedicated to indefinite trials (we play also until midnight/midnight and a half) and the last is for resting and the evening concert. Small concerts are also organized in particular places of the location of the day, where anyone can perform and show the public the fruit of their own hard study. This is also done in the “concertone” opening. While people take their seats in the theater, they have the pleasant surprise of listening to some performances by both professionals and children. There are also “Concerti fiume”, of which we know the time when they start but not when they end. The “night in cloister” composition competitions are very effective, where composers are locked up in the theater all night to express their musical inspiration. The parts must be found on the “100Cellos” music stand for 10 a.m. The “100Cellos” have a minute or so of time to do a little test of each song and then play it in front of a jury made up of great musicians.

From the organizational point of view, the journey is the responsibility of the cellist. Board and lodging are provided by the “100Cellos” team. In the last reunions, we tried the wonderful formula of being hosted by families of the city where the reunion is held. In exchange for hospitality, we offer to the family to watch our show. Only minors, accompanied by their families, must organize themselves independently in finding accommodation.

How was the Macerata experience? (from the human and musical point of view)
To play with a sacred cello monster like Giovanni Sollima, believe me, it’s a fortune that doesn’t happen every day. His great humanity and his performances always keep us speechless. The ideas of Enrico Melozzi, then, are always crazy and unconventional and this is precisely what makes our shows magical. When someone asks me what I find so beautiful in these reunions, I always reply that I feel indescribable happiness, because I feel enveloped by a glass bell in which only music and friendship flutter.
The experience of Macerata was the confirmation of what I support: the union of people of a human depth that goes beyond any imagination, not only of the musicians but also of the families that welcomed us. My daughters and I, for example, have had the honor of being hosted by wonderful people, who have made us enter their home as if we were always family. And it is only thanks to music, which I think is the only instrument that can currently generate intercultural dialogue. Suffice it to say that on the stage of the Sferisterio a fourteen-year-old Iranian singer, who cannot make her wonderful public voice in her country, performed with us,  and a group of asylum seekers who accompanied us with percussion in the Hymn to Joy of Beethoven. The exhibition with the PFM was fantastic: playing with a so important band is not an everyday thing, especially for the rhythmic difficulties involved in their pieces.
At each meeting, we usually create small flashmobs in the squares of welcoming cities. That of Macerata, in my opinion, was the most sparkling: we played in the market stalls, temporarily blocking traffic and receiving fervent invectives from a policewoman asking us who authorized us to play there. the funniest thing was that the mayor of the city and the organizer of the Macerata Opera Festival were present, so she left with her tail between her legs while we continued unperturbed playing Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.

When and where will the next meeting take place? Will you go there?
A meeting closes today in Tokyo, but only a small delegation of Italian cellists participated. All others were selected directly in Japan.
In Italy, the next meeting will be held in Pavia on 4 February. I can not wait to go there. I have already asked my colleagues if they will cover my class (I am a primary school teacher) and they, like every time, have given me their approval with great enthusiasm. They are my biggest supporters! Now I only hope the manager’s ok.

Thank you for your availability and … see you soon in Pavia!

August 12, 2019

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