Interview with Marco Ramelli (June 2018)
Welcome to the Neuguitars Blog, Marco. I have the pleasure to know you and your music from a long time, I think it’s time we have a talk about your music.
How did you meet Kai Nieminen?
Marta Dolzadelli recorded in her CD ‘Frames’ two pieces by Kai Nieminen and me so in a way she created the first link with the Finnish composer. In 2015, I met Kai Nieminen in Milano where he was there to give a talk at the Conservatoire. After the first meeting, I stayed in touch with him via Skype, and we began to share our compositions and our musical ideas. In 2016, we started working on the idea of a large piece dedicated to me that explored the themes we talked about during our conversations.
How did start the idea to release the cd “ Rites & Shades guitarworks by Kai Nieminen”?
The idea came from Kai Nieminen; he wanted to present in this recording his latest solo guitar works. All four pieces are substantial and show the composer’s compositional approach in recent years. His latest compositions explore more complex and ample forms, and even the required virtuosity is higher than in previous pieces.
In this record you play a piece titled “Shades Sonata-fantasia”, what kind of problems have you found in your interpretation?
The piece “Shade… Sonata-Fantasia” was born from a rare synergy between composer and performer. The review process lasted more than one year, and during this period we had the opportunity to explore the polyphonic and timbre potential of the instrument, changing the piece modifying some passages and enriching it with new ideas.
We worked together trying to increase the dramatic composition charge and to explore the potential of the instrument. I think in this work both Kai and I have brought all our knowledge as guitarists and composers and the published version is for us a testimony of a true collaboration.
We missed to meet in Scotland last summer, how did it go in Orkney?
Thanks, it went very well I would say. I was there for a series of concerts and to listen the first performance of piece ‘Moon’ for mezzo-soprano and guitar by Alison McNeill & Sasha Savaloni for the St.Magnus Festival. The theme of their program was ‘Pilgrimage’ and included new compositions by Stuart MacRae, Steve Goss and me. It was a fabulous experience, in really fascinating scenario.
What does mean improvisation in your music research? Can we go back to talking about improvisation in a repertoire so encoded as the classic or you’re forced to leave and turn to other repertoires, jazz, contemporary, etc.?
Improvising is for me a medium to discover more about myself, a way of introspection. It is a central element both as a composer and as an interpreter. Improvisation can be expressed in many ways, and I try to make it as a daily practice. I believe it is important to train this ability that helps us to explore our musical personality.
I often play in a contemporary music festivals, and sometimes I have to improvise in concert and it is an experience that I have always found fun and exciting.
What’s the role of the “Error” in your musical vision? For “error” I mean an incorrect procedure, an irregularity in the normal operation of a mechanism, a discontinuity on an otherwise uniform surface that can lead to new developments and unexpected surprises…
For me, the ‘error’ is mainly an opportunity to discover something new and unexpected that can also teach something and show us new ways. It is essential to learn to recognize the error; it is the first step to be able to draw inspiration from it. When I am studying, and I make a mistake, I try to understand it and more importantly to consciously reproduce it. When the error is reproduced, it becomes something different, something that can bring me knowledge. In the case of the execution, the error is something that must be accepted, and it is something very difficult to do. When it is accepted, it modifies its meaning. It becomes an almost positive element for the interpreter. Something that forces us to react to the sound that pushes the interpreter to be in the present and to connect more deeply with what is happening during the concert.
And what do you think is the “function” of a moment of crisis?
Moments of crisis are very important because they remind us that the future is uncertain. As artists, we always need to explore new ways of doing things and the moment of crisis can help us to distance ourselves from already codified paths.
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
I’m working on several projects in Ireland, Scotland and Italy. I am currently based in Dublin, where I work as the main guitar teacher at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama.
In the DIT conservatory, we are organising the second Dublin Guitar Symposium which will take place at the beginning of 2019. The theme of the conference, ‘Back to the Future’, is designed to cater for a wide spectrum of research interests. It is envisaged that researchers involved with the rediscovery of the past can connect with those who work on new music, considering the two as analogous sides of the same coin. At the organizational level in Italy, I am working on the new edition of the Festival Corde d’Autunno and on a new three-day course in Carpi called “TouchTheSound” where students can play on some historical instruments and explore issues related to both repertoire and sound production on original instruments.
I am working on few discographic projects: the first one that will be released by Brilliant Classics later this year is dedicated to Federico Mompou and Roberto Gerhard.
Recently, I am very interested in the creation of collaborative CDs with different artists, and this year I am working on the complete recording of an important Scottish composer with other two guitarists, on a CD dedicated to Ravel and Debussy in duo with Andrea Dieci and with Ensemble Corde d’Autunno and a CD with some of my compositions.
As a composer, I’m finishing, very slowly, a couple of compositions for two Italian guitarists that will be performed in the next months.
As a performer, in the coming months I will be mainly playing in a duo with Andrea Dieci, and I will give few lecture-recitals dedicated to new pieces written for me for my doctorate at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Last question: a few years ago, during an interview with Bill Milkowski for his book “Rockers, Jazzbos and Visionaries” Carlos Santana said, “Some people have talent, some people have vision. And vision is more important than talent, obviously.” I think all of you have a great talent, but … what is your personal vision?
I don’t know if you can call vision or not, but certainly a key theme for me in this period of my life is “relationship”. I am trying to create new project and music in synergy with other people and artists. I think that the CD ‘Rites & Shades guitarworks by Kai Nieminen’ expresses this aspect very well.