Stefano Semprini: when the violin meets the soul

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The master joins hands with us to discover his musical path. Today, 15th July, the launch of the new album: Essere-Composizioni per violino e pianoforte.

The violin and the piano converse with each other and never have the upper hand on the other instrument. This is Essere – Composizioni per violino e pianoforte, the new album with 12 pieces available from today, 15th July 2014, on the main music streaming and buying operating systems (Amazon, Spotify, etc).

“Essere was born as an International project with the aim to show the nature itself of music: a universal language that can go beyond borders and linguistic, physical, social and cultural obstructions. […] Each dialogue [there are six dialogues in the album]shows a ‘shot’, a painting. Hints depend from the chosen dynamics, at the beginning the melodies are gloomy and dark, then peaceful and delicate, flexible rhythmics can spread effects of anxiety and dynamism rather than static nature… everything helps to show feelings, like paintings. I’d like to ‘join hands with you’ and show what I feel. The most impressive thing is that lots of people, who listen to my music, have different feelings very far from mine. This is the beauty of art! It’s also a pleasure for the artist.” Stefano Semprini

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Read his biography.

Music Wall had the great pleasure to meet this young musician.
 

When you were 17 years old the violin you played was low quality, you needed a better and more expensive one to improve with your studies. Your parents asked you to choose which one was the main passion of your life and future: music or basketball. How did you understand that music was your vocation?
Life always gives you a moment to choose what to do. As for me, that moment happened during teenage years, the period of time when you are plenty of interests and passions and you are confused. It’s very difficult to choose something that is permanent in such an age. I wasn’t in trouble, I chose music ‘cause when I played notes on the new violin I immediately understood that it had to be mine at all costs. It was very expensive for my parents so they asked me to think it over, they told me: ‘If you want this violin you must know you have to apply yourself at your best’. I thought about it all night long (too few to choose what to do in your future), but I was sure. The morning after I had just a thought in my mind: ‘music is my life’. I can say that it all began so.

When you were 21, after quitting from University (DAMS, Department of Art, Music and Performing Arts) you focused on Conservatory studies. It gave to you great satisfaction with important collaborations and prestigious concerts in Udine and Gorizia: duo violin-piano, violin-harp and with the Orchestra da Camera di Gorizia. Would you like to tell us anything about it?
I attended one year at the University (Music cv) then I decided to quit cause the classes couldn’t satisfy me and it would have been expensive for my parents and loss of time for me, I passed more time studying the violin than the university books… however that period of time enjoyed me a lot, there I knew lots of friends.
Dropping out of the university was a hard choice, but I don’t regret. Concerts and musical activities that followed confirmed me that playing music was a priority. Music makes me feel good, I communicate and express myself through it.

Unfortunately tendinitis of the left arm made you stop with the studies for a period of time, so you made up your mind to compose. Composition has been a great rediscovery: you used to compose when you were 15, you have gone ahead with an excellent outcome. Later you healed and started again with concerts and chamber music collaborations. How do you feel? More composer or performer? How has changed your approach to the performance of other composers’ pieces? Do you analyze them from a composer point of view?
On one hand tendinitis represents a very sad moment of my life: I couldn’t study and improve my knowledge, it was frustrating. On the other hand it has been determined for the good outcome for composition. I had already composed some melodies before that moment, that period of stop from studying and playing helped me to improve my composition. Time for studying comes short while I write. During the writing periods I don’t listen to other classical composers’ music cause I want to avoid each kind of stimulus.
When I play and perform the great classical pieces of the past I try to follow the style of the ages when the pieces were composed. Surely everyone has his own sensitivity towards the piece. The composition hasn’t changed my approach to the music of the past. During concerts I usually to suppose, for instance: ‘How would I have done this passage?’, I do it just for fun and pure personal curiosity, not to disapprove the perfect pieces of the giants.

Which composer (past or present) does your music get closer to?
I tend to let the listeners to think it over. Talking about personal musical tastes I’m into classical music of course and all kinds of music (nothing can stop me on a good listening to AC/DC, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, etc).
Lately, going back to classical music, I feel myself more closer to Debussy, Ravel and Prokofiev.

What’s the most recurring inspiration?
To be honest there isn’t any particular inspiration. The biggest source of inspiration comes from the world that surrounds me. A gaze or a facial expression suggests me something. People I meet on the train, bus, metro are sources of inspiration at the moment they do something that is interesting for my creativity. It’s awesome to watch the facial expressions and try to convey them through music. I tend to fill myself of emotions and feelings when I’m in contact with the world, then when I write on a sheet of music or on computer I gather what I feel and try to represent it through music. Music is a flow of emotions that embraces and cuddles us.

Why did you choose to move to Rome? Has the capital city supported your job?
The move to Rome was a difficult choice for me (relatives and friends to leave is not easy), but if I could go back in time I would do it again. I have to thank my fiancée, she gave me the courage to leave everything and start again in a new and different place, she told me: ‘You are a musician! Music is a universal language. There isn’t any place where music doesn’t have place’. The reason I moved to Rome was to seek fortune in music. In Italy it’s very difficult… however I do believe that a big city helps a person who needs contacts. Rome is helping me in that. I’ve known new friends and very valuable musicians. The city, especially regarding to the historical centre, gives me ideas for new compositions. It offers also more opportunities of studies, for instance I have just finished a course for music applied to picture.

You play two violins: a German one from the early twentieth century and a Simonelli one from 1984. What are their peculiarities (sound, wood, etc)?
I’m very lucky to play two violins: the one from 1984 is very young and was made in Italy, the sound is very soft but less powerful than the other, the German one comes from the early twentieth century and has the bottom block and has a lighter color than the first one; I have used the second one to record my last pieces. Its sound has to develop: the more you play the instrument the more the sound comes out. At the moment I prefer to play the German violin, cause it’s trustier and it’s nearer the sonorities I’d like to reach.

You are working also on a jazz/swing project for violin and guitar. Could you please tell us anything about it?
The jazz/swing project for violin and guitar is a side aspect, far from the classical composition. I don’t want to say to be good in playing jazz. As far as the swing concerns, I try to read up and study from the listening of the music by Django and Grappelli. The idea is to perform cover songs of their music.
In my opinion it’s fun and constructive to know each kind of hints of music that you can produce with your instrument. It’s an opportunity to play in a different way the violin, considered to be essentially classic. It is obviously a matter of personal musical tastes.

On your website you wrote: ‘the ‘illiterate’ art [by Filippo Biagioli]made me think over the universal power of art and the need of each art to link with the other forms of art to magnify its strength’. How do you live the relationship with the other arts?
Filippo Biagioli is an artist I regard with esteem and respect a lot. I live the connection to the other arts very well. A ‘creative connection’ with other artists makes an explosion of ideas. It’s fantastic to exchange points of view and having a mutual enrichment. This kind of exchange makes us grow both as human beings and as artists. Each artist has different incentives to ‘make real what he/she feels’. Great things can grow from the union of ideas among several artists.

Essere, your new album, has been launched today, 15th July 2014. Tell us something about this collection. How was the project born?
Essere [in English ‘to be’]is an evocative word with several sides and reflects the matter that this album represents the essence of my music. I’d like to ‘join hands’ with the listeners through the 12 pieces to let them know my path of composition: from the first song to the last one. Among the 12 pieces there are 6 dialogues for violin and piano, the last pieces I wrote; I turned out all my feelings, good and bad ones. There is a true dialogue between these two instruments, none of them dominates.
The project was born last Summer, while I was composing my first dialogues. I wanted to collect most of the pieces for violin and piano, I had written, in an album.  At the same time I was thinking very much about music and its purposes. I realized that music is free by the author, it belongs to everyone and for this reason it has to be independent and autonomous.
So I decided to undertake a new way of producing my music: crowdfunding. I consider it an innovative system, very useful for people who want to participate in an artistic project.

You have been teaching at several schools since 2004, at the beginning in Friuli Venezia Giulia and later in Rome. At the moment you are a teacher at: I.E.E.M. – riEvoluzione Musicale (Ladispoli), Accademia Nomos (Roma), Accademia Musicale Europea M.A.N.T. (Roma) and Musictime (Ciampino). You spread your love for music to your pupils, who pay you back with enthusiasm for it. You said: ‘Teaching is extraordinary, it’s a mutual enrichment: each pupil gives you something and you can give something of you to him/her’. Would you like to send a message to our readers who want to study music through this marvelous instrument, the violin?
I teach at several schools of music. I give something to my students and they leave something of them in me. It’s fantastic to follow students and see them grow musically, they are hungry for knowledge and passion. I feel fine to know that a part of it is also thanks to me.
Of course, as far as I am concerned, the violin is a marvelous instrument. In general I have to say to the readers that playing music is the most beautiful thing to do: it fills the soul and the listeners are carried away.
Never mind the instrument you play, where and when, the importance is to play music!

I thank you very much also on behalf of Music Wall for the interview and for the strong feelings you give us with your music.

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pianist and singer-songwriter "The Rovers" acoustic trio #pop #folk http://theroversband.wix.com/the-rovers /// jazz singer "Liza & The Brothers" #jazz trio http://lizathebrothers.wix.com/liza-and-thebrothers /// classical piano /// foreign languages