order to grasp the scope of the unique musical event, to be hosted at
the Walt Disney Concert Hall on January 20th, we need to go back to 16th
century in Venice, Italy.
Back then, numerous charitable associations, composed of lay men and women alongside religious ones, were formed.
Among those, the oldest one, the Ospedale della Pietà (Hospice of
Piety), used to give recovery to the orphans, the sick, the old, the
impoverished, in a word “the outcast”.
The most gifted girls, who showed a clear predisposition for music,
trained to become “Figlie di Coro” (Choir Girls), within the former, as
well as other institutions alike.
The young women’s cloister-like seclusion, along with their
rigorous education, left no room for even the smallest reward. Enough to
say that their audience was forbidden to clap their hands, at the
However, the Choir Girls acquired a great prestige, within the
musical landscape. In the eighteenth century, Vivaldi’s and Antonio
Martinelli’s pupil and muse, Chiara, aka “Chiara the violin”, to whom
the two instructors and composers dedicated some of their sonatas and
concertos, was an extremely talented violinist.
She meticulously kept a journal, including musical annotations,
which has inspired the internationally acclaimed violinist and director,
Fabio Biondi (Palermo, March 15, 1961) and his Baroque formation,
called Europa Galante, to release the album, Il Diario di Chiara (2014).
The upcoming concert, featuring several pieces from the album, is
going to be both a philologically accurate and enthralling journey into
the female artist’s musical sensibility.
Here is a human and artistic profile of Maestro Biondi, whose
mission is to bring back to life for us, that extraordinary era in the
Let’s go back together over your earliest approach to the
violin and music, in general. Was it “love at first note”, so to speak,
or you had doubts about your life path?
I have never had any doubts. My first love was St. Matthew Passion
by Johann Sebastian Bach. I listened to that wonderful piece on LP.
Every single day, my father, a real classical music enthusiast,
used to put on an infinite number of pieces. With a father like that,
one could not do otherwise than love music.
What’s the most memorable lesson, passed down to you by your instructor, Maestro Salvatore Cicero?
Salvatore Cicero was not only a technical master, essential to
perfect my instrumental technique. He was also an extraordinary
violinist: accurate, intense, uncompromising and pure. Exactly what
Sicily needed, as he became Concertmaster of Sicilian Symphonic
However his major lesson was a moral one, made of passion, perseverance and honesty towards oneself and the others.
I highly treasure his life model of never feeling accomplished,
but, with modesty, to work every day to perfect oneself, “both in one’s
minds and one’s fingers”.
What memories do you have about your first international performance, at a prestigious venue, like Vienna’s Musikverein?
I was yawning repeatedly, before going on stage. I said someone: “I
must be sleepy!”. They answered back to me: “No way! That’s fear!”
I was extremely anxious.
Looking at your repertoire, it looks like, among Baroque
composers, you have a special taste for Scarlatti, Vivaldi and other,
less known among the general public, Italian musicians (especially from
the Eighteen Hundred Century). What’s their most unique musical quality,
which differentiate them from German composers like Bach?
Italian music is vivacity, narcissism and virtuosity. Often you have to look for what is not written on the page.
Looking at Bach, we can see how his lesson is different: we still
find vivacity, but everything is more complex and profound, thus
enabling much less alteration and elaboration.
Let’s say that Italian music and its need to be reinterpreted, offers more opportunities for improvisation and modernity.
In 1990 you founded the Baroque ensemble, Europa Galante
and since then, in the vest of musical director, you quickly notched up a
series of prestigious recognitions, including two Grammy’s nominations.
Do you have the perception that audiences around the world have a
deeper appreciation for Baroque music now, in comparison with when you
Yes, I do. There’s been a huge increase in audience’s size, as well
as an ever growing interest and appreciation for Baroque music and
Early music, in general.
That’s both due to the repertory’s “freshness” and to the
opportunity, in these kind of concerts, to observe first-hand the
musicians’ ability in altering, “embellishing” the same pieces. Exactly
Tell us more about the album, Il Diario di Chiara, from
whom your formation will execute some pieces, in the upcoming concert,
on January 20th, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Il Diario di Chiara is an exciting exploration into the life of a
Venetian girl from the eighteenth century, named Chiara, who, thanks to
her performing talent, was able to witness, as well as be part of the
major stylistic change, occurred during her sixty years’ lifespan.
Mostly, the album enables us to depict Venice, essential hub in
Northeastern Italy, not only for Vivaldi, but also for all the
composers, who worked after him at the orphanage, Ospedale della Pietà,
one of the major musical centers in Europe during the Baroque Era.
Moreover, it’s the perfect way to portray an exceptional woman, and not a man, as we normally experience in music.
Besides your activity, with the Stavanger Symphony
Orchestra (since 2006) and your worldwide tour with Europa Galante, what
are your current and upcoming responsibilities/positions and projects?
Since 2015, I’ve been appointed as joint music director with
Roberto Abbado, at the Opera House, in Valencia, Spain. I also hold a
similar position, both at the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and the Paris
I love to share my knowledge and expertise with other cultural
realities, and music, to me, represents the best way to express myself
In conclusion, did you perform in Los Angeles in the past? Did you have time for some sightseeing? Do you like the city?
Yes, I’ve been in Los Angeles, in the past. What can I say? The musician’s life is often restricted to hotel and concert hall.
Other musicians from my ensemble, who have more free time, love L.A. That doesn’t surprise me!
I hope to be able one day to stay longer after a concert and, finally, enjoy the beauties of this city.