Music and Italian musicians in London

>> From London to Rome

Italian music as well as Italian musicians have been held in high esteem in history and many pieces of Italian music are considered the epitome of their art form.

Music is an integral part of Italian life, both in Italy  itself and wherever Italians have settled. Many musicians live in the different European capitals, London seems to be one of their favourite.

I have met my friends Alessandro Viale – an Italian harpsichordist, pianist composer and conductor – and Rebecca Raimondi – an Italian violinist -, both original from Rome, moved to London and currently live in Frankfurt, to ask them why they think many Italian artists leave Italy, their own country, to move abroad. 

Alessandro and Rebecca, what do you think draws so many Italians musicians to live and work in London?

We think that musicians mostly come to London either to study in one of the four Conservatories (Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Academy, Royal College and Trinity Laban Conservatory of Music and Dance), to work in one of the most renowned symphonic orchestras  or  historical informed groups (Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Academy of Ancient Music, Avison Ensemble and so on). 

The culture of this city requires from the artists a continuous generation of new ideas and concepts, and this is why it attracts musicians who want to develop and give birth to a project, or are looking for „inspiration“. Therefore, for some musicians – and for us in this case – London represents a very enriching stage of their life rather than an arrival point.

In which country do you find most creative inspiration?

This is not an easy question, but we easily agree on the answer. Based on our experience until now, we would say that the Italian nature, weather, lifestyle, art and food provide us the strongest inspiration, most probably because it is the country where we come  from and where our passion for music has started.  But  now that we live in Germany, we find that the weight that music has in the culture is also a strong source of motivation: performing for audiences that actively listen to the music and understand it, is an incomparable feeling that gives a greater sense of freedom. Moreover, after the concerts, there is often an exchange with the audience  which always enriches us.

I believe there are many Italian composers and musicians who would love to travel the world and bring their music everywhere. What, in your opinion, are the criteria to choose one city instead of another?

Not all musicians have the same needs and priorities. Some prefer a very active city, some like to work in many different places, some decide to live in the countryside. We loved London as a three-years experience because it gave us many inputs, in a widely international context that provides an incredible cultural exchange, but its style of life was for us too demanding. Now that we live in Frankfurt, which is still a very international city, we can enjoy a slower rhythm of life and therefore we feel a stronger sense of community. Furthermore, it is very well connected hence traveling is less stressful.

Rebecca, you have started to study music at the very age of four years old. At this young age surely you have not decided yourself to play violin. How did your journey start?

In my house, it was not difficult to come in contact with music: my father used to listen to classical music every evening, in our living room, with a high fidelity stereo which gave the impression of having a real orchestra in the house; I used to dance to the music. I cannot remember the exact day in which I decided to play the violin because I was just a bit more than three years old, but my parents told me that when they asked me if I wished to play piano or violin, I chose the second without hesitation. Also my mother, music teacher and flutist, followed me during my path and my instrumental studies, which never stopped. 

When you moved from Italy to settle in the UK, how did you feel?

Before moving to London I had never been to the UK, and I always lived in a very small town on the seaside near Rome… so it was a big change indeed! I still remember coming out of the underground at King’s Cross St. Pancras the day that I arrived for the audition at the GSMD, and staring at the high buildings and hundreds of people running in all directions with a great sense of wonder! I was really fascinated by it, and very happy to move to London!

You  are both members of the Ardore Duo, Avant Piano Trio, Il Quadro Animato and many other ensembles. Clearly chamber music is important to you. On the 26th March, together with the Italian cellist Michele Marco Rossi, you will perform at the Institute of Culture in London. Can you give us a little preview?

We are very happy to come back to London to present our last CD dedicated to the Milanese composer Riccardo Malipiero, which will be released in March for the label Brilliant Classics, in a concert at the Italian Institute of Culture. Among other pieces we will perform his Violin Sonata,  which was premiered in 1957 at the Wigmore Hall in London. It is truly great piece of music by a composer unjustly underrated. We have performed it in many occasions since 2015, in Europe and in the UK, with alway an enthusiastic response by the audience. Therefore, we are really looking forward to this next performance!

*Barbara Panetta, scrittrice

Barbara Panetta