This is an interview prepared by Partita.
How did you first start playing guitar?
My first contact with the guitar was at a friend’s house. I must have been 6 or 7 I guess. I remember I started playing with it without having a clue on how it was working: at the time I was able to play little tunes on the recorder (which I was studying at school) and on the piano by myself, but on the guitar I really didn’t know how to do that! So, when the music teacher told my mother that I should study a musical instrument, she suggested her to try with a wind instrument, but I had no doubt instead: I had to choose the guitar in order to understand how it would work!
How would you describe the experiences of performing in many countries and cities around the world?
I love travelling and luckily I had the chance to do it from far before I started my professional career. I can say I am quite used to it, and I have to say that I enjoy it a lot: seeing different places, meeting new people, tasting various foods, I just love it! Besides, as an Italian, I think I am somehow responsible for the big tradition we have in the music field, and I am glad that I can share our very own music by composers like Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Regondi, Paganini, Giuliani, Scarlatti, Petrassi abroad with many people across the world, combined with my personal view about the guitar and music in general.
Sometimes, it can happen that I miss staying at home even when I am within Italy, as I am currently working far from my own city: as a matter of fact, I am teaching in two Conservatories in the north and I am from Rome, which is in the center of Italy. But to be honest, that feeling usually fades away quite fast, because I keep myself really busy all the time!
What do you think is the most important thing when you are playing the guitar?
I am usually concerned with giving the right expression to the pieces I am performing. My playing must fit the style in which they are composed but, on the other hand, the music should not sound dead and soul-less. So, the big deal in my opinion is to find a good balance between the expression of personal ideas and feelings and the more “objective” sides of the composition: that’s the perennial problem of “being respectful to the score”, which I don’t think can be solved only by respecting it, but also by enlivening the music, which after all it is what matters most. What I love in my performances is the sensation of telling a story: that’s why I always love to introduce the pieces myself, because I think it can help creating a stronger connection with the audience, helping to convey your message in a richer and deeper way. For me a concert is not only simple entertainment, but mostly a cultural experience which could possibly embrace all genres of art.
How would you describe your playing style?
Honestly, I don’t know! It is very hard to be able to judge yourself, because you know yourself so deeply (or perhaps you don’t know yourself at all!) that is difficult to sum things up in a few words… I can say that the adjective with which I am being described more often is “elegant”, which I think it could fit. The funny thing is that I am not thinking about being “elegant” at all! I am just trying to be myself as much as possible, so I can say that this is something that comes out very naturally. I think that’s a good point, in music just as in life: if you truly behave in a spontaneous way, your real nature will come out naturally and, in a performative art context, the audience will be able to recognize that at first sight.
What was your most impressive & memorable moment when you were playing guitar?
Whenever I am playing a concert it’s a new emotion for me, so I really wouldn’t know which one to pick. I guess that if I have to choose one it would be the night when I have won the “Fernando Sor” Competition in Rome: it’s a competition that takes place every year in my city, I’ve been following since I was a teenager and that night I felt really proud of this achievement, because I’ve been dreaming about winning it so many times. But that feeling fled away quite fast: the day after I just recognized it was just another small step forward on a very long path, so I started practicing again!
What makes a good guitar?
Well of course good tone and range of colors is something I am always looking for when I am trying a guitar. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s such a thing like the “ultimate” guitar: there are instruments that work perfectly for a specific repertoire, others are more versatile and can be used for many styles… I guess that on the other hand a good thing is to be able to recognize what music suits better for a specific guitar and then go for it.
Another thing that I am always looking for in an instrument is the easiness to play it: since I am looking for the most “natural” way of expressing myself, I need something that doesn’t limit me but help me in this sense. After all, I think that an instrument should be thought as a tool to help you convey your very own musical message and your personal vision, not as a pretty thing to be kept inside its case.
Tell us about your future plans and dreams that you want to achieve.
To be honest, I just would like to grow more in the same direction as I am going right now: I am feeling like a tree, with roots safely planted on the ground, and with the ability to spread its branches in the air freely… Actually, I would like to get a better and stable job as a teacher in a Conservatory, possibly in Italy (but no one knows…): I am still quite young, and I am hopeful that this will happen soon. I would also like to keep performing more and more and in always new places: for now, I can’t wait for my forthcoming third Japan-Korea tournée and for next June 2020, when I will be performing at the Carnegie Hall with the Chamber Orchestra of New York Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Guitar Concerto n. 1!
What are your expectations for your upcoming performance in Korea?
First of all, I will be really happy to meet again many friends and perhaps know new people! This time I am playing a varied program that includes music from many countries around Europe: Italy, Spain and Poland: I hope the audience will like it.
Of course, I am also looking forward to recording some new videos in the wonderful Partita Studio and working with Minsu and Seho again, it will be a great pleasure to work with such a professional and yet friendly team.