Radio Interview

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Promoting his 9th year as Mime Director for Festival Musica sull'Acqua, as well as the peformance of Apocalypse Man/Béla Bartók Sonata for Solo Violin, Tony appeared on an Italian radio show.

00:00 – 02:40 

Opening music: Claude Debussy’s Syrinx, Roberto Armocida, soprano saxophone

02:40 – 02:58

Host, Oliviero Ponte di Pino:  Claude Debussy’s Syrinx for solo soprano sax, Roberto Armocida, saxophone. A very difficult solo, Roberto. It was three minutes and we can hear you’re out of breath. 

02:58 – 03:15

Roberto Armocida: Yes, exactly! It’s very difficult because the piece wasn’t conceived for this instrument, but I have to render it like a good flutist would. 

03:15 – 03:31

OPP: So essentially you have to go three minutes without breathing. So, you’ve let us hear this in anticipation of the sixteenth edition of the International Festival Musica sull’Acqua. We have on the phone Francesco Senese, Artistic Director of the Festival. Good afternoon.

03:31 – 03:33

Francesco Senese: Good afternoon, everybody.

03:33 – 03:36

OPP: Today it starts. Today is the beginning of the Festival, right?

03:36 – 03:41

FS: Yes. We are in the final hours before the Festival.

03:41 – 03:46

OPP: Constellations. What does that mean as the theme for 2017?

03:46 – 04:50

FS: It means that we are taking off from an idea to realize this year a mime choreography for Gustav Holst’s composition The Planets, the original version for two pianos and performed by Igor Roma and Enrico Pace.  It’s a composition that we’ve been working on during this first week of laboratories with our young people. This new version will be presented on July 7 with the mime interpretation. And this piece has inspired a bit the entire direction of the Festival. We’ve created a program that is a constellation of sounds, environments of sounds from various epochs and from various locations across our planet.

04:59 – 05:10

OPP: So, Francesco Senese, I want to ask, one of the peculiarities of the Festival is that to some degree it stands on the strong legs of a pedagogy.

05:10 – 06:19

FS: Exactly. From the beginning this Festival has been a point of encounter between musicians and artists of other disciplines that are outside the routines of musicians. I never like defining a musician or an artist who works in a different artistic language as a professional or a non-professional. We are all walking together even if we start from different directions. At the Festival we believe it is very important for young people to encounter, and exchange with highly accomplished people – musicians or other artists – to have a moment of reflection. It’s like standing in front of a mirror reflecting the souls of the young people, and the children, who are still free of prejudices and preconceptions. It’s a moment of encounter, of exchange.

06:19 – 6:36

OPP: Tony Lopresti, Mime Director of the Festival, has been working on the choreography that Francesco Senese was just talking about. But there are also many other workshops during the week before the Festival opens. 

06:36 – 06:44

Tony Lopresti: Yes, yes. There are lots of workshops – percussion, barboutine where one can …

06:44 – 06:48

OPP: What is bartoutine?

06:48 – 07:04

RA: Barboutine is a type of clay that’s very wet. It’s slathered on small tables and the young people, using various gestures applied to the clay, create stunning visual patterns.

07:04 – 07:11

OPP: Isaia Bettiga, who will be accompaning Roberto Armocida on the piano, how old are you?

07:11 – 07:12

Isaia Bettiga: Nineteen.

07:12 – 07:17

OPP: And when did you begin studying music?

07:17 – 07:43

IB: I started at the Goitre School when I was six. There I started to study piano, music theory, chorus. Along side that I participated in the workshops of the Festival which help us play better. It gives us something more.

 07:43 – 07:50

OPP: So what are these workshops that you’ve been part of this year and in years past?

07:50 – 08:32

IB: When I started, I did barboutine, which helps a lot with gesture and how to use our hands with our instruments. Percussion, where we develop creativity and certain rhythms which are necessary to understand. Mime, where you seek to find gestures to express all that you have inside you.

08:32 – 08:57

OPP: As we were saying, it’s not enough just to know the piano. To really excel at piano a person needs to understand many other activities. Let me ask you to take your places for Debussy. So, the Festival from the 1st to the 22nd of July, whereas before we were talking about Lake Magiore, now we are at Lake Como, Francesco Senese. Where exactly are the venues of the Festival?

08:57 – 09:15

FS: The concerts take place at the Piona Abbey, one of the main venues of the Festival, and Santa Maria del Tiglio in Gravedona, a church exactly across from Colico. 

09:15 – 09:18

OPP: On Lake Como?

09:18 – 09:20

FS: Exactly. Yes.

09:20 – 09:33

OPP: Now we’ll proceed with Debussy’s The Girl with the Linen Hair, the version for soprano saxophone and piano. Roberto Armocida on saxophone, Isaia Bettiga on piano.

09:33 – 11:50

Music: Claude Debussy’s The Girl with the Linen Hair, Roberto Armocida soprano saxophone, Isaia Bettiga, piano.

11:50 – 12:24

OPP: Roberto Armocida, Isaia Bettiga – The Girl with the Linen Hair – Claude Debussy. A preview of the International Festival Musica sull’Acqua – Constellations. Francesco Senese, we were speaking of the encounters between the maestros, the professionals, the musicians with the young people who are starting out in their careers. This is one of the main features of the Festival and I believe for the young people these are very important opportunities for growth.

12:24 – 13:07

FS: Absolutely! I believe it is something that will remain with them for all of their lives, within their emotional experiences. And if they become musicians and they make music as their reason to live, then during the course of their lives, they’ll develop new directions. This will become an important richness because they’ve had the opportunity to live these very strong moments, to create music that is this important with personalities at such high levels of accomplishment is something totally unique.

13:07 – 13:36

OPP: Tony Lopresti, you teach these young people to move, to be able to work better with their bodies, in the direction of mime or dance. Isn’t there a risk for a young person, like Isaia here, who plays the piano beautifully, to fall in love with another discipline and to say, “That’s enough. I’m not playing the piano anymore. I’m going to be a mime. I’m going to be a sculptor using clay. I’ll be a painter. I’ll dedicate myself to another activity.” 

13:36 – 14:07

TL: No, I don’t think this is a risk because they learn that these languages go to the same point – the point where we are searching for the truth. This truth comes from our inner life. One can advance toward this point regardless of the art form. But this point becomes clearer when it’s viewed for many different perspectives. 

14:07 – 14:28

OPP: So these different perspectives help to understand how creativity is born and how it develops, and how one can begin to create the layers of an inner life that, of course, would help ground any life choice. Roberto Armocida, I want to ask you about this tradition for the sax. How is it arrived at?

14:28 – 15:10

RA: It grows out of the history of the people who play this instrument, this new instrument, it grows out of the search in the 1800s to try to write for this marvelous instrument in new and exciting ways. From there, the main style of the French school, like Samazeuilh, a series of many new and interesting compositions where written.

15:10 – 15:13

OPP: Where did your love for the sax come from?

15:13 – 15:42

RA: That’s actually a really strange story because I come from a very small village in Reggio Calabria. I don’t come from a family of musicians. I heard this instrument being played by street musicians. I became obsessed with it and I tried every way I could to convince my parents to allow me to study it. Finally I succeeded.

15:42 – 15:44

OPP: The hardest part was convincing your mother?

15:44 – 15:45

RA: Exactly!

15:45 – 15:50

OPP: The last passage you’re going to present to us, what is it?

15:50 – 16:01

RA: So – the last passage is an original piece composed for solo soprano saxophone by a Spanish composer, David Salleras Quintana, who is a saxophonist and a composer…

16:01 – 16:07

OPP: So this is like a phase two of the composers for soprano sax?

16:07 – 16:19

RA: Yes, we’ve made a leap here. We’ve arrived at the music of the current day, which is strongly influenced by flamenco. 

16:19 – 16:32

OPP: OK, so while Roberto Armocida is taking his place in the studio, I’m going to ask Francesco Senese – when will we be able to hear Isaia Bettiga and Roberto Armocida at the Festival Musica sull’Acqua?

16:32 – 16:43

FS: So – this year, Isaia will perform at the Concerto Ateliers on the 7th of July but as a mime actor, not as a pianist.

16:43 – 16:49

OPP: Ah, that’s exactly what we were talking about with Tony and now we’re about to see it actually happen!

16:49 – 17:21

FS: Yes but we’re confident enough is the passion of Isaia for the piano, and so we can be at ease. Roberto will perform tomorrow at a Festival Coffee Hour at 6PM at the lake. And he’ll perform at the closing concert in a completely American program with music for sax, piano, and violin on the 22nd of July. And at the last Festival Coffee Hour, also on the 22nd of July.

17:21 – 17:25

OPP: If someone wants to sign up for the workshops of the Festival, what do they have to do?

17:25 – 18:06

FS: You can go to the Festival website, not this year because the workshops are finished, but next year, starting in May, you can sign up. They are open to the students of our school and to anyone who wishes to participate. Over the years, we’ve had participants from all over Italy, and the young people are hosted by the families of the students of our school. It’s a really interesting project from that point of view. 

18:06 – 18:09

OPP: And how many young people sign up, more or less?

18:09 – 18:23

FS: The workshops have approximately 55 or 60 participants every year. From outside our region, I’d say about 5 to 10 young people. 

18:23 – 18:37

OPP: Perfect! At this point, make a note. The Festival Musica sull’Acqua – at the Piona Abbey in Colico and at the Church of Santa Maria del Tiglia in Gravedona – from the 1st to the 22nd of July. David Salleras Quintana. Mi Bailaora. Roberto Armocida – soprano sax solo.

18:37 – 25:50

Closing music: David Salleras Quintana’s Mi Bailaora. Roberto Armocida, soprano sax solo.

25:50 – 25:59

Studio audience applause. Fade out.

Tony Howell