Alessandro Quarta is one of those geniuses who would deserve to be on top of the world, if the world wasn’t a place where most of the people who are popular enough to be on top of the world are completely talentless.
A pianist, violinist and composer, Quarta, born and raised in the hot region of Salento (Puglia) in Italy, is well known in the underground world where real talent and great music are praised and appreciated. CNN’s Insighttalk Director Patrick McCarthy is one of those who are firmly believing in his talent, while he has just signed a recording deal with London-based label Musicbeat Production.
His new album Charlot is coming out on Christmas day, the title being a homage to his idol, Charlie Chaplin, who departed on Christmas day in 1977. I had the honour to have a chat with Alessandro on music, life and inspiration.
Q: First of all, what made you decide to be a musician and to play the violin?
A: My elder brother and sister have always been playing the piano and the violin. I was 2 years old when I heard them playing for the first time and I remember I used to pretend i was playing the violin too using a rolling pin.
Q: What does Music represent to you?
A: To me music is everything. It’s freedom, creativity, the ability to imagine and live in a place so far away from reality by just creating and playing a soundtrack. It gives you the power to attract people’s attention from all over the world. It’s like a sweet, wonderful dictatorship that belongs to all main Art forms: Music, Painting, Sculpture, Writing, Photography and Cinema. When I stop playing I hardly remember what I’ve done, it’s like I’m into a different dimension. My only aim in life is to create something different even though I use tools that have always been there, like instruments and notes… at the cost of becoming famous!
Q: Your album reached high positions in the iTunes chart in Italy, still you are getting a lot of attention from USA and UK. Do you feel your music is more appreciated in your homeland or abroad?
A: Definitely abroad! Unfortunately Italy is going through a very dark cultural moment that follows a terrifying law: the more famous you are the more people think you’re talented, the more they see you on TV or hear you on the radio the more they think you are good. It shouldn’t be so. This is due to a lack of culture.
Q: Tell us more about your projects abroad. How does it feel to be working with CNN?
A: It’s just great! I had sent several messages through Linkedin to music managers and just 2 days later I received this e-mail from CNN’s Insighttalk Director Patrick McCarthy, where he praised my work telling me that there’s no one like me in America, who plays piano and the violin in such an unconventional way. So he asked me if he could introduce me to the USA and the rest of the world through their website… which I gladly accepted.
Q: You recently signed with a London-based label, what impact is this going to have on your career?
A: I think this might be a turning point. The label is called Musicbeat by Simone Borgia and Emanuela Clari, and I’m thankful that they believe me. It’s a London-based label, in Great Britain… the engine that drives the musical waggon that contains USA and Europe. England has always been a cradle to the greatest talents and most of the music styles of the 20th century come from there. So, starting with London is simply amazing.
Q: What do you think of the state of the music industry today?
A: This answer is not as easy as it might sound. What I see today makes me sad. As soon as someone talented comes out with his own music style all the others come along as copycats. All they do is copying, there’s no personality and many lack musical knowledge. Talent Shows are a clear example of what I’m saying: as long as they are on TV, have a nice voice and are famous it’s ok with them; too bad they often don’t know anything about music. You hear people saying they’re talented, they have a nice voice, but I say it’s not enough. It takes sacrifices, years of study and a lot of humility to be more than talented. Unfortunately, everyone wants to be popular very quickly. The recording labels often play a pivotal role in all this.
Q: Where do you take your inspiration from?
A: I believe music has to tell something. It has to explain an image, a situation in details through dynamics, chords, themes and rhythm. You first choose a story you want to tell or an image you want to portrait and then you write a soundtrack to it. Antonio Vivaldi is the forefather of this technique. I’ve written many of my songs with vivid images in my mind; I fell in love with girls who were living just in my imagination, places that I’m not aware of. Sensuality is often the central idea of the dream thus of the songs. Using lyrics would make everything easier, but that would prevent me from experimenting with the listener’s imagination.
Q: How would you describe your music?
A: I like the idea of being a round musician. A song can have Rachmaninov’s romantic harmonies, Blues or Rock rhythms, bebop improvisation and the Italia theme, but everything can be done in two ways: either with musicians from all over the world, or if the artist has the knowledge and a deep, vast musical sensitiveness. I like describing my music with my name, then every song has a different style.
Q: Name the 3 albums you would take on a desert island with you.
A: The Thrill is Gone by BBKing, Bach’s Suites, Secret Story by Pat Metheny.
Q: What’s next for Alessandro Quarta and what should the audience expect?
A: In addition to my new album Charlot coming out on Christmas Day, I have a lot coming up. I’m touring Italy until the end of the year. In March 2015 I’ve been invited to join for the second time the soloists of the Berliner Philharmoniker in Norway to play some classical suites and some of my songs. We will also be recording an album with some of my funky soul classic hits.
In 2016 there’s a musical coming to life. It’s 3 hours of music composed for the Philharmonic Orchestra with 102 musicians, 200 choruses, 10-member rhythmic band and 40 dancers; some of the tracks can be listened to on my website. I’m also starting a new project, the Academy of Musical Excellence Livesart (Accademia di Alto Perfezionamento Musicale), where together with other International artists we will hold music campuses at the Yamaha music school in Lecce.
What should the public expect from me? Something different, on a musical artistic violinistic level.