What is the secret to Stefano Bollani’s recurrent visits to the Grand Duchy? CSL sat down with the world famous pianist to find out.
Stefano Bollani, the Italian pianist and jazz performer will perform with the OPL on May 18th in a concert “Manhattan: The American Dream” dedicated to George Gershwin and his multifaceted music. This will be Mr. Bollani’s 4th concert in Luxembourg in the last year. When asked about his frequent visits to Luxembourg, Bollani’s answer was simple:
“The quality of the Philharmonie and its concert halls, big and small, and the quality of its orchestra: the Philharmonie Orchestra (OPL) is an excellent group of musicians, well managed by an excellent Director”.
On Friday evening, Mr. Bollani will play the introduction to “Rhapsody in Blue” during the first part of the concert, an execution that will also include a lot of improvisation, as envisioned by Gershwin himself, who imagined Rhapsody as a mix of classic music and jazz. In fact Gershwin never finished writing the score as he knew he would walk on stage and play it differently every night.
After the official concert, the piano will move outside the Philharmonie’s main auditorium and Mr. Bollani will perform improvisational jazz for the audience; jazz inspired by Gershwin but also other artists, as the musicians will leave the door open to requests from the public. After all this is Stefano Bollani, multitalented musician and composer, tv personality and music popularizer, who mixes different styles and genres in his production: from Brazilian to Neapolitan music, moving through classical music and, of course, Gershwin.
“He is an artist I discovered when I was 9 – said Mr. Bollani – and I love him because his music is made of so many different aspects and details, and this matches my own personality and inspirational process, as I like to take ideas from all sources”.
Including Luxembourg sources?
“This is a difficult question – he answers laughing – despite the many times I have visited the Country (after previous experiences, Mr. Bollani was given last year a “carte blanche” to play three different concerts at the Philharmonie) I have not been able to see much, that’s the unfortunate life of a touring artist; however, I have a great artistic relationship with the OPL and I have written a score, “Concerto Azzurro”, that I would like to play with them one day”.
Fingers crossed for a possible world premiere for the Grand-Duchy, in the meantime CSL will take all necessary action to make Mr. Bollani find out more about Luxembourg. In fact, we even managed to get him involved in our Love Letters to Luxembourg project!
But then, if an artist takes inspiration from everything around him, the question is: what is the artist giving back? What is the meaning of what an artist does?
“Meaning is given to art products by the audience, it comes after the creation process; the pleasure of making art is represented by the pleasure of doing things, a musician in general does not think of a message as music does not have a meaning in itself, a musician creates things that he believes do not exist yet, he feels an urge to put things in place where they are not and therefore he fills a gap. The meaning comes afterwards and it can change completely based on the performer: I have heard mediocre scores performed by very talented artists, and this makes the experience completely different and definitely interesting”.
But if “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, so to say, what is, then, the role of art in modern culture and society?
“I believe that the role of an artist is the same played by any other person: do your thing and do it right; this is the only way to survive and be happy in a society where messages are constantly imposed by external sources, invading your private sphere and creating a situation of constant pressure on people; everyone’s part in the society is to contribute with the things they care for, and live a full life through the things, and in the places, they love”.
And certainly Mr. Bollani’s contribution to the well-being of the Grand-Duchy will be very important this year: besides Friday evening’s concert, the Italian performer will also play two concerts for kids, one in the morning of May 17th and one in the morning of May 19th. Two shows that will take the same repertoire as the main concert of Friday, but for a younger audience, for a musical awakening experience that will only abide by one rule: “No curse words during the performance”, says Mr. Bollani, laughing.