Young Artist Interview: Meet Classical Guitarist Giacomo Susani
Giacomo Susani is a multi-award winning guitarist and winner of the Company’s Ivor Mairants Guitar Award. Regularly performing as a soloist, chamber musician and soloist within orchestra at renowned venues across London and Europe, Giacomo also works as a composer and guitar teacher at the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music. As Artistic Director of MoMus-More Music in Italy, Giacomo helps promotes young classical music artists through organised concerts and educational events. We caught up with him to find out more.
Where and when did you first pick up the guitar?
In Italy, during summer holidays at the age of seven. That happened sort of by chance when a friend of mine handed me the instrument for me to try, but music had always been a constant presence in my daily life. My grandfather from my mother’s side, Antonio Pocaterra, was a cellist and worked as first cello of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan for 30 years. Many other relatives of mine were also involved in the musical life of the same theatre. Therefore, probably at an unconscious level given my young age, music had a strong influence on me from my earliest days.
You’ve won lots of competition. Which have opened the most doors?
I would say the support of various trusts like the Musicians’ Company itself, the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the City Music Foundation as well as others here in England have led to some of my most enjoyable and rewarding professional experiences, and, most importantly, helped me enter the extremely lively musical scene of London. On the other hand, success in international guitar competitions has enabled me to get known to a wider range of audiences and colleagues in Europe and a little bit beyond.
Soloist, chamber or orchestral playing… which do you most prefer?
Solo playing is the one I get to do the most, and definitely the one that allows me the most freedom of choice, both of repertoire and interpretation. Chamber music can be extremely inspiring as it gets you working with other talented musicians and sharing your experiences with their own. Moreover the guitar blends extremely well with almost all kinds of instruments (I particularly enjoy playing with string quartets and singers) and has a much wider and fascinating repertoire than one normally expects.
Playing with orchestras is always a wonderful experience and I would list the same qualities I have just mentioned about chamber music to it. On top of this, as I am also a composer, I have written a guitar concerto and several chamber music pieces in order to further explore the worlds where the guitar still seems shy to enter. Definitely playing with other instruments and orchestras is something we guitarists need to do more!
What was the inspiration behind your most recent solo album?
My last album “Gebeth” presented the work of two romantic guitarist- composers, Johann Kaspar Mertz and Giulio Regondi. It features two major concert works and a series of smaller pieces (a selection from Mertz’s Bardenklänge and of Regondi’s Etudes) of both composers. On the next recording project I am planning a CD of my own compositions.
Tell us about your work as a teacher and artistic director helping young artists
As a teacher I mostly taught privately until I had the luck and privilege to become a teacher at the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music in London. I had my first lesson in September and I am deeply enjoying working there. The environment and colleagues are lovely and the students are all committed and eager to improve. Every now and then I travel abroad to give masterclasses (mostly in Italy), which gives me the opportunity to teach students at a more advanced level as well as discuss concert repertoire. In Padova (my hometown) me and my family have started organising concerts and events in our own theatre, called “Barco Teatro”. Here we invite young performers to play and teach masterclasses to the students of local conservatoires: our aim is to provide high quality concerts and events and involve as many young people as possible, both on stage and in the audience. The venue is becoming better known and attracting a wider audience and we hope success will continue to grow, attracting young people and making them aware of the beauty of classical music.
Which guitarists have had the greatest influence on your career?
I would say the guitarists who have had the most influence on me artistically are my teachers Stefano Grondona, Michael Lewin, Paul Galbraith, Julian Bream and Andrés Segovia. I had the chance to work with all of them in person, except of course the last one… alas! But I like to think of myself as one influenced by other instrumentalists and musicians as well. If I had to list my greatest inspirations I would have to mention pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and conductor Sergiu Celibidache.
What are you up to this year?
This year is setting out to be very exciting with lots of solo concerts in England and Europe, new compositions and projects with orchestras. In particular on March 27th I will be playing my own guitar concerto with the London Chamber Orchestra conducted by Christopher Warren-Green at the Great Hall at St Bart’s in London, and I will give the world premiere of a new piece of mine called “Nona Onda” for cello, guitar and orchestra in Luxembourg for the “Agora Music Festival”, organised by Constantin Riccardi and Nora Braun. For all other details, visit my website. As for the rest… I will be spending most of my time practising!
You can find out more about Giacomo Susani at giacomosusani.com
Interview by @suzywillmott.com