The point of view of the composer and performer Marco Persichetti

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Marco PersichettiMarco Persichetti he graduated in piano with Sergio Perticaroli, and in composition with Guido Turchi and Irma Ravinale, at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome. Later he obtained a Diploma in Conducting with Francesco De Masi at the Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella in Naples.
As a composer he has won awards in national and international competitions, and his works are performed in many festivals and broadcast on several radio.
He written music for television and sound radio, creating several CDs of instrumental music and a CD of classical music for string quartet, Remembrance, published by Fonit Cetra. It is dedicated to applied music and theater, winning in 1988 the 1st prize at the International Music Competition for films of Latin; and cooperating in theater with directors such as Ugo Gregoretti and Patrick Rossi Gastaldi, and with Maria Monti as a pianist, arranger and songwriter. As a pianist he has worked in the jazz field, participating with the group “Esperanto” to several festivals throughout Italy and abroad. He collaborated on music broadcasts for Radio Rai 3.
He holds the chair of Harmony and Analysis at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome.



Considering  your brilliant career, two important roles  are revealed: either as a concert player or  as a composer. Which road is more challenging? Is it possible to find a link between them?

I think every career is challenging when trying to arrive at a high level; that of the composer today is perhaps more problematic due to the more limited role of the figure of the composer in modern society, or we could say of his lesser recognition, compared to the popularity of singers, instrumentalists and conductors. As for the links between the two activities, the performer and the composer, they were obviously united up to the whole 19th century; today it seems that there is a separation between these areas, which remain however tied up in jazz and in the various currents of “popular music”.

Is there an author in the music history who has marked an important step in your musical training?

There were two authors, George Gershwin and Claude Debussy,  who first made me be in love with music; I usually listened the first one on the vinyl records we had at home (my father was very fond of him), and it is perhaps not a coincidence that I have always been interested in jazz as well as classical music. The interest for Debussy also comes from my family, in this case a grandmother who loved him very much and had a box with the complete works for piano … my first attempts in composition were looking for harmonies and atmospheres very close to his music. Then it is the turn of all the great classic musicians, Bach first, and gradually all the other ones… but these two “first loves” still have a special place in my preferences.

Today there are many discussions on the value and appeal of contemporary music, with divergent views coming even by conservatives. How should we consider this kind of music?

I believe that contemporary music today runs the risk of becoming a bit ‘… academic and self referential, at least in Italy. There is no doubt that in this field there are musicians of the highest value, which have greatly enlarged the listening and creativity boundaries; However the academicism I mentioned before comes when people want to set rigid boundaries and exclude everything that is outside the “political correctness” of contemporary art … I remember Berio having been heavy criticized (scandal! ) for playing with popular materials in “Folksongs” … and he was Berio! Instead the great musicians of the past had been able to combine the popular element with the “high” language and this is – in my opinion – an essential component of their greatness. In this regard we should ask ourselves also another question: what really is contemporary music? Maybe we should broaden the spectrum of this definition to other expressions of our time, such as film music, jazz, rock and pop at least where they express an authentic level of creativity, even in these areas there are  high value musicians, and after all the quality of the music depends on who does it.

You are a member of the Academic Council of the Conservatory “Santa Cecilia” in Rome, where you teach yourself. What is the current situation of Conservatories in Italy? What elements need to be reformed, or at least improved, in an institution of such prestige?

I believe that Conservatories  have a great tradition to be protected, at the same time They should try to evolve and upgrade, avoiding the two opposite dangers: on the one hand a retrograde and hostile attitude to the renewal, on the other hand the desire to run after any news so dispersing even the positive aspects  of our consolidated teaching experience. Certainly it is necessary to be open minded and accept modern theories and ideas, with a well structured teaching method; today there are cultural and professional  realities completely unknown at the time when the Conservatories were first set up, in the first half of 1900; However I think e need a bit of common sense and attention to ensure that those elements of rigor, seriousness and selectivity characterizing  the “old” conservatory, can merge harmoniously into a very different teaching situation.

As a teacher, did you experience the transition from the old organization of the Conservatories to the new ones? What is your opinion about this development?

This is a sore point; the transition from the old system to the new one, outlined by Act 508, is so long and hard to give voice to many people who regret the “good old days” of the old conservatory. No doubt many problems raised by the new system (e.g. the issue of pre-academic education) are still waiting for a proper solution, which will take place not in the near future. Also the comparison with the universities is not without problems, either because our culture and our habits of teachers were – and remain – partly different, or because the act of learning arts (the ” know-how “as opposed to only knowledge) has peculiar feature. Many students reach a high level of skill when they are still very young, at high school, or even middle school. The so-called “precocious talents” must be adequately protected, because they are a valuable resource. Our generation has the arduous task of taking care of this long transition; a hard but exciting  task, because I believe that only through our intelligent and creative effort we can achieve this reform and overcome all the problems, turning them into an opportunity for growth and renewal.

You were a member of the jury at the prestigious competition “Simultaneously Accordion” of Rome. What were your impressions about this instrument? What is your opinion about the level of accordionists in the current music scene?

I must say I was very impressed by the great possibilities of this instrument that I did not know before very well, an instrument  fitting with great versatility either the great tradition of organ literature, or the language and the sounds of contemporary music.

The musicians were really high level, either the students of our academy, who are lucky enough to attend a school of the highest level, or the foreign students, especially those from Eastern Europe, where the tradition of this instrument is more consolidated. The current accordionists are a small group but very proud and, thanks to the quality they can express, it is likely to gain an important status in contemporary music.

As we know, the accordion is undergoing a process of evolution in recent years. What role will play in the future? How long should we wait for a chair of accordion in every Italian Conservatory?

This is hard to say, but I think the accordion has a good chance to spread and win the attention of a wider audience, including the link with the role of this tool rooted in our popular culture. This last point is necessary to overcome some prejudice, which on the other hand is quickly dispelled as soon as you listen to the music of a good run bayan … but I would also mention the impact that arrived in today’s music with the figure of a musician that I love and admire very much, Astor Piazzola, and his bandoneon … are all elements that pave the way for a renewal of the listening habits, and consequently new areas of study and learning.

In the Middle Ages the music was part of the “crossroads”, ie the set of those arts that were the basis of school education. How far are we from that reality? What would you say to a young man who intends to approach the world of music and maybe make this your work?

Unfortunately the school Italian seems to cater very little training and educational value of music; Paradoxically, never before have teenagers “consume” an impressive amount of music – through the I Pod, tablets and all possible technological means – but the music is seen almost exclusively as a means of entertainment and distraction, and not as a powerful means of enrichment and spiritual growth. It remains then entrusted to the good will of some passionate teacher, or to stimuli coming from the family, the opportunity for the boy to meet a different dimension of music, from which it could well desire to groped in the study professional sense. For a young recommend listening with curiosity and unprejudiced approach to all kinds of music … and if triggered a passion, it’s still a great wealth! The work of the musician is difficult but definitely exciting, so it’s worth to try!

Autore: Andrea Pennacchi

Andrea Pennacchi ha scritto 36 articoli.

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