Q: Tell us about how you first became involved in music
A: I was nine when I started piano, but I had already begun studying the violin a couple of years earlier. I had felt drawn to the piano however since the age of four, when I discovered the instrument in my grandmother’s house and started picking out melodies by ear. My parents pointed out that you have to be outstandingly good to succeed professionally as a solo pianist, whereas with a string instrument you also have the option of a career in an orchestra.
Q: Is anyone else in your family a musician?
A: Both my parents, Mario and Daniela, are cellists, and both teach cello at middle and high schools in Italy. My mother also played in the cello section of the Orchestra of Catania’s Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini. They always supported me and were so important for my musical life.
All of my brothers (Lorenzo, Marco and Sergio), are all very talented musicians. We often collaborate together and enjoy playing chamber music professionally.
My wife Chiara is a wonderful pianist and musician too. I’m so grateful to be able to share the love for this wonderful world of the music with the love of my life.
Q: Tell us more about your music education
A: Since I started, I fell in love with this wonderful instrument. When I listen to video recordings from when I was 9 years old, I am astounded at myself by the ease and spontaneity of my playing. I don’t know how to explain it: one even hears a degree of musical sensibility that is associated normally with more mature players. All I can say is that I simply wanted to be myself and think only of the music. I have had very good teachers and a wonderful family that gave me the perfect support to be become the person and the artist that I am today.
I have my master degree from the Italian Conservatory Vincenzo Bellini in Catania with the maximum votation cum laude in 2007. While I was in Italy, I also studied at the Imola Piano Academy between 2005 to 2008 with great teachers like Lazar Berman, Louis Lortie and many others. After I won the Lodovici Prize at the Busoni Internazional Piano Competition and won the ICMA (International Classical Music Awards) as Young Artist of the Year 2013, I moved to the US to study with Dr. Leone for my second degree (PD-Performer Diploma) at Southern Methodist University. At this time I have only one semester left, and in December I’ll earn my third degree, the AD-Artist Diploma, which is a very special program at SMU reserved for very few special artists. I had the honour to be selected as one of them.
Q: Growing up, did you have any influential teachers/professors who guided you towards becoming a professional musician?
A: I have always had wonderful teachers since I started playing the piano.
Certainly, one of the deepest, important and influential teachers of my life was when I met Dr. Carol Leone at SMU for the first time. She gave me all I needed to grow and become the artist that I’m today….
Of course, I’m also so grateful to the great, world renowned pianist Martha Argerich, for giving me the confidence in many occasions and supporting me in the world of the music.
Q: What is your personal teaching philosophy?
A: Enormous devotion and love for a job which inevitably involves a certain degree of emotional tension, because emotion lies at the basis of all music-making. If we fail to feel the emotions while we are playing, the music in a certain sense ceases to exist. Of course I consider the age differences between students, but we need to remember that at any age, you can discover and feel music with different emotional grades. I try to transmit energy and enthusiasm, as well as understanding of their different needs, through my teaching.
Q: What is your favorite music genre?
A: I really love classical music, of course…. but very often I love to listen jazz music played by a great piano player of the past like Oscar Peterson.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a piano teacher?
A: The excitement that I feel when my students improve after I worked hard with them. Because I’m really busy, I try to select students through auditions and find really talented students. In my opinion, it is better if they are little, so I can work with them and introduce them to this wonderful world from the very beginning. In this moment, I have talented young students. They all have great potential to become wonderful pianists….time will be relative.
Q: When you are not teaching, what do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I wish I could have spare time… If I could have it, I would love to fish. I remember when I was little, me, my father and my brother Lorenzo used to fish often. There are some things and moments that we can not forget, and one is where we are coming from and what we have done to be where we are now.
Q: We know you are originally from Italy- what do you miss about your country?
A: I miss all my family, my dogs, the sea and, of course, all the memories of all my life that I spent there, in my country of origin. When you spend a lot of time in a place, Sicily in my case, you have a lot of emotions and feel like there is part of that culture in everything I do.
To learn more about Alessandro, click here