April 19, 2022 – 12:50 pm
The Sardinian trumpeter who will play on Thursday in the basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence tells his story
from Caterina Ruggi D’Aragona
ITrumpeter Paolo Fresu has brought the ancestral sounds of his Sardinia, always tending towards a “futuristic” musicality, in various theaters around the world, in many churches and in unusual places. Even on trees. He has written and performed music for theatrical and cinematographic works, literature and poetry readings, collaborating with numerous artists. Visceral Sardinian, it has always had a close link with Tuscany. In particular, in Siena he studied and then, for over twenty years, taught; in Florence he had one of his first engagements. «I went to play with the great pianist Luca Flores in a club near Santa Maria Novella, where I have often returned. However, I have never entered the basilica of Santa Maria Novella », confesses the artist a few days before the concert on Thursday (9 pm) on the occasion of the annual meeting of the provincial priors and the vicars of the vicariates of the European Dominican friars. A tribute to the Dominicans, with the doors open to citizens and tourists, who will see Fresu accompanied by the Alborada string quartet, who for several years has been supporting him in the musical experiments to which he has dedicated himself in parallel to the traditional repertoire of Baroque music.
What do you expect from the concert in Santa Maria Novella?
“I’m doubly curious, as I’ve never entered it, although that square has often been in my life. On a wall of the Feltrinelli station there is a sentence of mine, extracted from the book in which, to explain the swing, I tell that I wrote the song Fellini on the Florence-Bologna section, when the train took you an hour and 40 minutes, while today, when high speed has cut the time, I would not have been able to write that melody of 16 bars ».
Did the location affect the program?
“As with the many concerts held in places of worship, especially within the” Time in Jazz “festival in Berchidda, my hometown, I have prepared a specific project, which includes traditional Sardinian and original pieces, sacred pieces such as Santus written by Daniele di Bonaventura or a Have mercy transcribed by the choir of Santu Lussurgiu (municipality of Oristano, ndr), and not sacred, but still functional to the concert in the church. There will also be a share of improvisation, also in response to the acoustics of the space. When I play in church, in particular, I like to move to the altar or in the audience, to explore alternative acoustic opportunities ».
Do you love playing in unusual places?
«I like the investigation of places, especially if they are immersed in nature. I often played above the trees. For the “Two for tree” project, for example, Daniele and I were at a height of 15 meters, on a large cedar in the rectorate of the University of Perugia, while on the ground there was a chamber orchestra. Last year we had a similar experience in the Pollino Park. Also in Sardinia we did many concerts immersed in nature, as well as in Pisan Romanesque style churches. But also in imposing locations such as the Milan Cathedral or Saint-Germain-des-Prés, in Paris ».
On April 30, International Jazz Day, he will be with Daniele di Bonaventura in the church of San Francesco in Lucca with the “Altissima Luce” project, inspired by the Laudario di Cortona, one of the most complex and evocative productions of his Tuk Music label …
“We rearranged the 13th century pilgrim melodies for string orchestra transcribed on the parchment kept in the Library of the Municipality and of the Etruscan Academy of Cortona”.
What relationship does it have with faith?
“I come from a deeply Catholic family, and have lived in my church for a long time. When I was born, in 1961, personal and collective growth took place in my part of the country between the countryside, the church and the gang, three apparently distant “creeds” that actually have rituals in common. St. Francis taught us the essentiality of life and respect for animals and plants. Even the band, an element of celebration and sharing, helps to appreciate the little things. We Sardinians know the sound of our land well, because in Sardinia the wind is a character you can only depend on. Anyone like me who has had a pastor knows that “earth” means “thanksgiving”. The rites of the seasons are celebrated in the country churches in Berchidda: there I began organizing concerts that gathered more and more audiences, to the point of pushing us to move outdoors. This is how my acoustic investigation into nature was born ».
What prompted her to join the village gang at the age of eleven?
«I saw the gang pass and, from an early age, my dream was to be part of it. Music has always been with me. In the house there was a trumpet that I could not touch: our parents, with many sacrifices, had bought it for my brother Antonello, who had enrolled in the band course and then abandoned it. When I was 8 or 9 I had permission from my confirmation godfather, a Colombian missionary, to play the organ in church ».
“The best of the gang improvised in front of the bar. Then we formed a group that accompanied the weddings; we also began to move to neighboring countries… One day, in the late 70’s, I heard a jazz trumpeter on the radio, and I went crazy. I knew I was going to play that music. ‘
What is your idea of cultural activity in Tuscany?
“Much more can be done. But specifically in jazz, Tuscany is among the liveliest regions of Italy, thanks to the great work of realities such as Musicus Concentus, Siena Jazz and Music Pool. More funding would be needed, especially in this historic moment ».
Do you feel the responsibility to carry a message of peace through music?
“Yup. If we were more able to appreciate beauty we would have a few less wars. I have often played in the places where now there is fighting: it is terrible to see the destruction of the people and what they have built. Also for this reason, I like to think that music can be useful, as a universal language, to awaken confidence in the future ».
When he got married (in the summer of 2003, with the Alghero violinist Sonia Peana), he declared that he was a man of other times …
«I carry with me what I am and I hold firm to my principles. I’m not nostalgic. I use electronics, I know the languages of the web, I am curious … And I learn from my son Andrea, who plays drums and is a great music listener. He started at 5 with the Beatles, then moved on to Coldplay; he now he listens to many quality American rappers, and also songs from the past. He makes me listen to beautiful music that is the soundtrack to video games. Together we find fantastic sonic connections ».
If you want to stay updated on the news from Florence, subscribe to the Corriere Fiorentino newsletter for free. It arrives every day straight to your inbox at 12 noon. Just click here
April 19, 2022 | 12:50