Wednesday 28 October 2020

SICILY October 2020

 In these difficult times, I was able nonetheless to steal a few days to go see my aunt, zia Clelia, in beautiful Sicily. I managed this incredible trip just before Italy closed most of its activities: concerts, restaurants, limited travelling... 

It is the middle of October but I was able to swim, EVERY MORNING!

We stayed with my dad's cousin in the little village of Furci Siculo, just South of Messina and from there, we took little trips to the nearby villages.

This is us swimming

One of the first trips was to Forza D'Agrò, which is just South of Furci and can be seen from the beach where we were swimming every day:

The Castle of Sant'Alessio, can be seen on the far right. Just above it, we visited Forza D'Agrò

This is the beatiful cathedral of Forza D'Agrò, Maria S.Annunziata e Assunta (XV Century). This is where a young Vito Corleone hid in a donkey's basket in Godfather II!

Forza d'Agrò - Cathedral

While this one, where they were having a photo shooting the day we visited, is the Chiesa della SS. Trinità, also from the XV Century. 

From Forza D'Agrò, which is on the very top of a hill, one can see Taormina (on the left in the next picture) and Mount Etna, which in this special occasion was smoking and was covered by a light mantle of snow. 

It was so wonderfully warm, that most plants had flowers and fruits on them. Here you can see a mini-pomegranate.

The next day, we visited Savoca, a small town on the top of the next hill.

 It is a much better known - and more turistic - little town thanks to Francis Ford Coppola, who, in 1972, shot several scenes of the Godfather here. It is here that Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) met the beautiful Apollonia Vitelli, asked her hand to her father at the Bar Vitelli, and then married her at the local church. The town was relatively untouched and therefore the perfect set for the town of Corleone.  

This is the Bar Vitelli, still called like this. I believe the owners are actually called Vitelli in their "real life"! There was a beautiful vine, changing colours, and offering shade to the very few visitors.

Inside, the owners proudly display pictures taken from the movie. In this first one you can see the scene taken right in front of the main entrance.

And here there is Michael Corleone with Apollonia. 

We stopped for a refreshing classic: a strawberry granita con panna e brioche!

We then took a stroll to see the church of San Lucia where the wedding took place. The town is perched on two adjacent hill tops, so you walk on two narrow roads (one way each) from which you have the most incredible view: of Mount Etna on one side...

And the sea on the other:

In the middle, the church of Santa Lucia:

This is a particular of the rosette of the cathedral:

and this is the winding road that leads to the church of Santa Lucia.

Some of you might recognize it from the movie!

On another sunny and warm afternoon, we all went to Pace, on the very tip of Sicily, to see where the Feluche were moored. We discovered that there were none, since in the Fall they don't fish swardfish, and so we decided to take our video anyway, on the seashore!

This is our fabulous movie maker, Vincenzo Nicita Mauro!

zia Clelia getting ready with Pippo

We were actually waiting for a little while for the colourful little boat in the background to leave the harbour, since it turned on its engine and its noise was covering any sound we could ever produce. We had set our stage right there because of this very colourful boat. We melted in the sun a little, and then it finally left.

At the end, we rewarded ourselves with a refreshing granita al gelso (you see a gelso sitting above the granita. It is not a blackberry, but juicier and it grows on a tree!)

While zia Clelia was making the video, I walked around the beach and found some of the Felucca's parts moored. I took some pictures of the bridge where the fisherman with the harpoon walks, to the very front of the boat. The long bridge was separated in two parts, so you can see the front first, the back side then. 

After the video was finished, we took a selfie, like the stars we are!

On the last day, I was surprised by being offered a ticket to a concert - alas, one of the last ones for a while - from a friend of my uncle, who kindly gave me her seat once we discovered that the concert featured Bruno Canino and Antonio Ballista! The piano duo is an Italian institution, equal to the Ferrari and the Teatro La Scala, celebrating their 60th year together. The duo supported and premiered much of the piano duo repertoire in Italy and in the world, spanning from work in Darmstadt, to premiering Berio's Concerto, written for them and premiered with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Boulez! Bringing to the stages of the world music by Dallapiccola, Donatoni, Ligeti, Boulez, Cage...together, of course, with the more traditional repertoire. And, in fact, they performed Liszt's transcription for two pianos of Beethoven's 9th symphony. Maestro Canino, now about 85 years old, but cheerful and kind as always, was also my teacher more than 20 years ago, and it was a very toucing surprise to find him there and being able to talk briefly afterwards. 

A musical highlight to end a wonderful trip, is this Paradise? 

Wednesday 25 March 2020

:: Simple Rhythms ::

I just prepared a simple video to help to clap simple rhythms in quarters, eighths, sixteenths and triplets in 4/4, 3/3, 2/2
Please visit my YouTube Channel:


Thursday 12 December 2019


Teatro Alighieri - Ravenna

In less than a week, I will be playing here! I was asked again to raise funds for the Associazione Vittorio Tison. After last year's concert in beautiful Forli', this year I will be playing in this gorgeous theater in Ravenna: Teatro Dante Alighieri, dedicated to the famous poet who spent the last years of his life in the city. 

Building started in 1838 and was inaugurated only in 1852. The two Venician architects, Tommaso and Giambattista Meduna, had just finished restoration of the Fenice in Venice, after one of the many fires who, throughout its history, had attempted to the life of this prestigious theater. In fact, the two theaters are not too dissimlar:

Teatro La Fenice - Venice

Among the musicians that played here, there were Arturo Bendetti Michelangeli, Cortot, Milstein, Segovia, the Quartetto Italiano, ...

However, I will be playing in the smaller hall, called il Ridotto, dedicated to Arcangelo Corelli in 2004, in occasion of the 350th anniversary of the birth of the famous composer, who was born in 1653 in Fusignano - close-by, in the province of Ravenna.- 

Capital of the Western Roman Empire from 402 to 476, Ravenna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was originally a port town, and as such, easily in contact with the Eastern Roman Empire. 

Monday 18 March 2019

ARPEGGIONE Sonata - Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Sonata in A minor for Arpeggione and Piano, D.821(1824)

The arpeggione was a very short-lived instrument invented by the Austrian luthier Johann Georg Stauffer.  He had received, together with Johann Ertl, an imperial commission to improve the guitar. In 1823, Stauffer built his Arpeggione, a sort of hybrid between a guitar and a cello. The first models resembled more a guitar with similar shape of the body and of the sound holes, but a few years later the instrument morphed into something closer to the cello (like the one shown at the Metropolitan Museum in New York). The Arpeggione is a six-stringed instrument, fretted and tuned like a guitar (E-A-D-G-B-E), but bowed like a cello and without an endpin, thus held between the knees. A few original instruments have survived and one can be found at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Met Museum - Arpeggione
The sound was quite gentle and couldn't therefore compete with the other louder string instruments. The instrument was quickly forgotten and not much literature for it survived, other than Schubert's masterpiece.

The Sonata, written in 1824, is dedicated to Vincenz Schuster, a virtuoso of the instrument who commissioned the piece to Schubert. After Schubert's death, the Sonata was forgotten until 1871 when it was printed but in a transcription for cello, being by then the arpeggione already a forgotten instrument.  Today it is performed usually on either the viola or the cello.

The Sonata is in three movements, with the second, a beautiful short Adagio, flowing into the Allegretto with a small cadenza.

Monday 11 March 2019

Michael Pepa'80th Birthday :: Certificate of Honour from the City of Cobourg

Our friend Michael Pepa just turned 80 years old!

Hard to believe by looking at the enthusiasm and at the continuous stream of ideas that keep pouring out of him.

On January 12th and 13th, 2019, the Canadian Sinfonietta, conducted by Maestro Tak Ng Lai performed two full concerts with mostly Pepa's music, one in Markham and the other in Cobourg, where he now resides.

Between the two concerts, almost a thousand people came to honour this important event. Of course, he had to give one of his very long speeches!

 Rachel Mercer, Lynn Kuo and myself played each one of his pieces for our instruments and orchestra, while Joyce Lai played the beautiful Mozart Adagio K.261.

Here Rachel is playing Pepa's MUTATIONS for Cello and Strings in Markham

Lynn is performing Pepa's Fantaisie Bohemienne for Violin, Piano and Strings

Joyce is performing Mozart Adagio K261

and I got to play his Yakami Variations, which he wrote for me a few years ago!

with the percussion part!

With Maestro Lai, Aster Lai, and with fabulous pianist Nada Kolundzija, who came all the way from Belgrade to celebrate this important milestone.

After the concert in Cobourg, Michael was presented with a certificate of Honour from the City of Cobourg!

and a letter from the Mayor of Cobourg

Here we are all together at the end of these two fabulous days: