Let me introduce you to a friend of mine, composer Marc’antonio Modaro. I met Marco back in the days of Mp3.com. We used to frequent their message boards and enjoyed lively debates (of course in the middle of composing works). We then coincidently joined a composer network called “The Group” which subsequently changed (with my suggestion) to Classical Music Makers (CMM). CMM turned into a venture which happened to coincide with my retirement from composition. I don’t know what became of CMM, but I know Marco helped in that arena along with Jeff Harrington and many more composers who have been reunited over at NetNewMusic.
Marco writes beautifully constructed works (described in more detail below in the interview), much of them with a touch of difficult piano sections. I used to write up reviews back in those days on a popular indie online review site and gave his Fantasia opus 10 a 10! (P.S. He also performed a piano work of mine called “Time Capsule” which is at his page over at NNM)
I highly recommend visiting his site for a listen over at NetNewMusic.
Here is a brief bit of his bio followed by a little Q&A.
The italian Composer-Pianist Marc’ antonio Modaro was born in 1964 in Pistoia but he always lived nearby in the city of Montecatini Terme. He studied piano in Firenze with Giorgio Sacchetti who studied with pianists such as Carlo Zecchi and Benedetti Michelangeli. In 1990 Modaro moved to New York and he was often performing at the Steinway Hall where he quickly gained a virtuoso reputation among the other concert pianists. He was offered to take part at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1993 and he was selected for a tournee’ of concerts in the United States and South America, but he refused preferring to dedicate intensely to composition.
JC: Who are your greatest influences?
MM: In composing I think Bach, Liszt, Chopin and Debussy, as a pianist Horowitz and of course Michelangeli because I studied with one of his students, Giorgio Sacchetti in Firenze.
JC: What are you working on right now?
MM: I am finishing the first part of my concerto for piano and orchestra and I am also finishing my Piano Etudes op.11 .
JC: Fill us in on what you you have been up to for the last five years?
MM: In 2005 with another italian composer, Giorgio Sollazzi, I started a project named “New Composition in Progress” and I was back to concerts with a successful series of concerts of contemporary music, but in Italy it’s very difficult to pull up a tour of concerts of contemporary classical music, so despite the great response from the public, we didn’t find a good agent that could help to make the project grow. I also have been composing a scherzo for sax contralto and piano, an Ave Maria for organ and soprano, a piece for organ, a divertimento for guitar and an aria for soprano and orchestra. As a painter with Riccardo Lenzi and Luca Angeli, I started a new artistic movement called Movimento Aristico Praticomateriale that proposes the total symmetry between concept, work, communication and the market .
JC: How would you describe your style or technique?
MM: For sure to know well the piano technique helped me in composing the music I wanted to compose for this instrument . To have technical limits prevents you from squeezing the best you can in terms of structures and textures from an instrument. A pianist understands right away if a composer of a piano piece is a good pianist or not. If you read Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition you understand that he didn’t know the piano as much as you know that Liszt was a great pianist just from reading his Sonata in b Minor or even a simple valtzer. My style of composing is a bit complex but it’s coming right off what I said before. Piano literature lately has been going toward forms of composing that has nothing to do with being “pianistic” in the classic or in the contemporary sense of the word.
The result was that the sound of the piano was losing its own “essence” and personality. Many times it was not sounding as a piano anymore and was constrained in musical forms that were using it at 1% of its instrumental and, why not …,orchestral possibilities. I thought that it was possible to find new communicative lines, making the instrument to sound as it was made for: in a complete pianistic way. To achieve this goal I explored new pianistic textures and mechanics ( the Etude op11 were made for this purpose); that keeping a special and recognizable pianistic sound would ” enlarge” the grades of the scales, alternate arpeggios and tonal chords so that the harmonic tonal basement would lose its association from a bit to the next one. Without all this the listener would not have the sensation of any change of tonality or forced dissonances or mechanical rigidity coming from a preordered atonal texture. The result is what I called crosstonality, which is just a name that quickly describe complex pianistic motions and textures that make possible to perceive the music as a continuous palette of different notes and colors that is not more tonal in the purest sense of the word nor is it atonal or polytonal, even if in many moments coexists association of different tonality at once.
JC: If you had to describe Marc’Antonio Modaro in one word, what would that word be?