The end of February was also the time I went to Tbilisi for the first time.
I was invited by Mariam Gviniashvili to join a project together with Mike McCormick in which we would present our master program to the students of the Tbilisi State Conservatory, giving a series of lectures that included both technical, aesthetic and artistic knowledge, and more practical instructions about funding opportunities, residencies and exchange opportunities in Europe.
It’s very hard to sum up what this week has been. First of all I found the idea of giving a talk a very thrilling opportunity and I discovered that not only I really enjoy to explain things, but also the need to organize my thoughts to then explain different concepts really helps me to solidify my own knowledge.
There I had two talks, one was about the conducting language we developed with OEOAS and was meant to introduce the students to free improvisation, a practice that not many of them had experienced before. The other was about the stereo format and different panning techniques that can be used in production to work with space in an interesting way. Tips and tricks that are part of my own practice and that I wanted to share.
Also I provide a reading and listening list full of musical examples of electroacoustic music.
At the end of the week, we organized two concerts. The first one was a fixed media ambisonics concerts that we arranged with an 8-speaker ring in one of the halls inside the conservatoire, the second was in a small local club called Zoestan where we played different live setups.
Being for the first time so far away from home, in an environment where no one knew me (and also thanks to Mako who almost forced me to do so) I decided to play my first solo improv-set. The idea of playing alone on a stage would usually give me unbearable anxiety and make me panic, but that time I managed and I used my moog, microphones and found objects on a guitar amp to play 15 minutes of electric mayhem.
But Tbilisi wasn’t just that, it was also an encounter with a completely different culture and lifestyle which is absolutely different from the European standards, and yet has a lot in common with southern Italy. The only difference is in projection, you can really see that despite all problems, corruption, the ghost of war and the strength of the Russian Army constantly menacing an invasion, it is a country in development. A country that tries to stand on their own legs, to make it, both economically and culturally, to grow, and it does it with an outstanding strength.
Sure, western culture penetrated that society in a real violent way and it’s obvious that globalized capitalism will just be another form of exploitation. Big brands are opening shops on the main avenues, while the narrow streets around the corner are still half demolished and the areas outside the town center are completely degraded. But there is growth and hopefully the strong Georgian cultural identity will prevent total assimilation. Compared to that, Italy looks more like it has begun the process of decay which will bring my country to collapse, despite how people idealizes it.
I’m really looking forward to go there again.
The very last day of January I left Oslo again to go back to Napoli. This trip was for a very noble cause, I participated to the recording of the first album of OEOAS (Orchestra Elettroacustica Officina Arti Soniche).
OEOAS is a huge ensemble started by Elio Martusciello with a small group of conservatory students, including myself, in 2014.
At the beginning we were just a handful, but the project encountered a positive response in the local music scene and soon after we became over a hundred. By now, about 250 musicians have played with OEOAS, in different occasions. Our biggest performance featured 110 musicians on stage in an extemporary composition conducted by Alvin Curran.
The recordings were organized and curated by Antonio Raia and Renato Fiorito, I played percussions and a drum set in different formations. I haven’t really played much drums in an impro setting, but what I do is often inspired by musicians such as Ingar Zach, Lê Quan Ninh and Seijiro Murayama.
Back In Oslo I played stereo diffusion for my second time at a concert we organized in occasion of the masterclass of Dániel Péter Biró. For that concert I decided to play a old classic by Luciano Berio: Thema, Omaggio a Joyce and the new piece I composed for Luca Sguera.
I had a tutorial with Prof. Barrett right before the concert, she absolutely demolished my piece, which she didn’t like AT ALL both in terms of structure and in terms of sounds implied. She even asked me not to include it in my portfolio.
That got me extremely nervous and I played an awful concert, full of mistakes led by distraction. I was away in my thoughts and I couldn’t manage to focus. I recognize that for the standards of what is expected by a piece of acousmatic music inside the academia, that piece isn’t truly orthodox. I sometimes take unpopular choices, deliberately including ugliness in my pieces, elements that clash with the structure, that feel out of place, but I often find all this very interesting and it’s what I like in the music of artists such as Graham Lambkin.
Anyways, I was very confused after that performance, which left me a bit disappointed about myself and my work. Still I considered that piece finished and functional to what I was going to use it for, therefore I sent it in for mastering.
I might rework it into something else for my master exam, but also maybe I won’t.