Interview with Francesco Silvestro (July 2016)



When did you start playing the guitar and why? What did you study and what is your musical background? With that guitar do you play and with what did you played?

I started at the age of 9 years and for me it was very automatic and natural to do so because I’m “son of art.” I was listening to music since I was in the womb of my mother, before I was born she was preparing her guitar diploma at the Conservatory. I studied at the Conservatory “Tito Schipa” in Lecce with Maestro Oronzo Persano and after finishing the educational and academic path that led me to know and be able to practice as a general rule all musical styles from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, I chose to focus on a more detailed study of contemporary music. This choice was quite straightforward for me because Maestro Persano is a great composer of our time, a lover and connoisseur of contemporary art in its most profound meaning. After the diploma I wanted to perfect myself even in chamber music, continuing to practice it with the same passion. I love strings but my predisposition is certainly for the soloist. During my concerts I play a Scandurra 2006 while studying I like to frequently change the instruments, playing with Contreras, a De Bonis, a Giannini and a Ramirez. The latter most of all.


How did the idea for the CD ”Ero Porte Dell’Est.Forse” start? Why the choice of Oronzo Persano’s music?

The idea of producing the CD ” Ero Porte Dell’Est.Forse ” has deep and complicated roots. I recorded this CD in a not exactly serene period in my life. It represents to me a shake, a page’s turn compared to unpleasant events that have happened to me from a couple of years before the release of this disc. As always, the choice was very natural, even release. I saw and felt in this so familiar music to me the way that would allow me to continue to work well, with the same passion and enthusiasm that before I was in danger of losing. The relationship that binds me to Maestro Persano is very strong. He is for me one of the main figures in my life to which I have the infinite respect. I could not share his masterpieces. This CD project is in a sense a revival of my artistic ego.

It’s been more than two years after its creation, what were the reactions of the audience and the critics?

Frankly I’m so tied to this work that whatever the implications I always feel like I have victory in my hand. I must say that the criticism has left me very satisfied. We had the honor to receive the exhaustive review by Renzo Cresti, a leading Italian musicologists and music critics. Not to mention the criticism of the newspapers “Quotidiano” and “Repubblica.”


What does improvisation in your music research? Can we go back talking about improvisation in a repertoire so encoded as the classic or we’re forced to leave it and turn to other repertoires, jazz, contemporary, etc?

When it comes to improvisation usually my thoughts turn to jazz, but it’s a genre that frankly I practiced very little if almost nothing. As for my direct relationship with improvisation I can however tell you that, when I approached so much to contemporary music of my teacher, it’s almost automatic to me to think that you can be free to improvise and especially in the interpretation of a score. In “Prefica Salentina,” for example, Persano leaves so much freedom to the performer who decides not to assign a time signature. Even in front of the first page he recommends the performer the indicative duration of the piece. I was so free from constraints that I had difficulty initially to approach it.

How does your music methodology is influence from the community of people (musicians or not) you work with? Do you Change your approach in relation to the one who directly or indirectly receive from them? If you listen to a different interpretation of a song you already played and you want to perform keep account of this listening or do you prefer to proceed in complete independence?

The external influence on my musical awareness methodology was the result of a long process, in the sense that only with the passage of years, having reached a fair musical maturity, I realized the changes suffered, fortunately very often in positive terms. Curious to try a different approach or a different methodology to the instrument, but my certainties remain firmly, especially if you enter the musical world of aesthetics. Without presumption I would argue that almost always prefer my interpretations than those of others; I don’t wish to say I don’t want to listen to other guitar players or I don’t appreciate them, indeed, I’m always very excited to know my colleagues and to share with them the various currents of thought that the art world offers us.

I sometimes feel that in our time music’s history flows with no particular interest in its chronological course, in our disco-music library before and after, the past and the future become interchangeable elements, could this be a risk for an interpreter and a composer of a uniform vision? A music’s “globalization”?

I do not think that the history of music flows without an interest in its chronological course, an interpreter almost always knows the styles of the period going to face. Rather, the listener might sometimes get confused and fall into the deception.


Tell us about your five favourite records, to always have with you .. the classic five discs for the desert island…

What a difficult choice! Let’s say I love to wander when I listen to music. I prefer to break listening preferring styles and completely different kinds with one another. I personally would choose the works of the greatest composers of every age, not only for guitar: Johann Sebastian Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, the “Sonatas for guitar and strings” by Niccolo Paganini, the “Sonata for solo guitar” by Mauro Giuliani. In my opinion there should still always be listening to one of the greatest composers of romanticism, Fryderyk Chopin, and the late romantic symphonies by Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev. I have not mentioned the music of our time because I arrived at five, but also would bring a sixth CD, ”Ero Porte Dell’Est.Forse” by Oronzo Persano.

Who would you like to play with and who would you like to play?

More than anything I would say that I would love to keep playing with friends I work with. Playing with them is very important for me, but more importantly it’s feeling good together. The union and friendship is vital to grow musically in my opinion. Among my dreams fact there is no one to play with great names of classical music scene. Rather I would like to know who still have not got to know, still learn something more and maybe share musical experiences together. I listen to concerts with a soloist and orchestra. One of the compositions that I’d greatly playing is definitely the Concertino for guitar and orchestra by Alexandre Tansman. It’s a job that I have in mind from a while and I hope to soon be able to achieve it.

What are your next projects? What are you working on?

I would prefer not to reveal future plans for the moment because I risk spoiling a surprise to a person dear to me. That said, I must be very careful to answer this question because I could go on too long. The possibility of dwelling too much on this issue awakens in me not only a feeling of excitement and pride, but also supplies the knowledge that everything that I have in mind is the result of a great love and passion for my work. Other publications are still to come: record products both for solo guitar for two guitars and violin. Lately I have been engaged in cultural promotion activities about music in my city, Brindisi. I’m working to expand these initiatives and make them more and more important, trying to involve artists of some importance, not only local. On site there are also other similar jobs. For example the opening of a cultural association in Brindisi, organizing a festival and an academy of classical guitar that not only has the function of school but also acts as the doorway to the immense world of classical sixstrings.