At the AAR, Reflecting on the Nuova Consonanza and Nuovi Spazi Musicali Concert Series

Sunday 7 November, behind the board at the Sala Aurelia

For a full six weeks and in eight major events—from 5 November through 21 December 2010—Rome is enjoying the 47th iteration of the Nuova Consonanza music festival. The unifying theme of this year’s program is “Romantik”. Says Nuova Consonanza president Fausto Sebastiani, here “we will try to enhance the richness and multiplicity’of contemporary music, tracking ideas, experiences, influences and links inherited from the nineteenth century.”

It all started at the AAR’s Villa Aurelia the evening of Friday 5 November, when pianist Emanuele Arciuli set out the landscape in an innovative program that joined the music of Elliot Carter (FAAR’53, RAAR’63, ’69, ’80), Béla Bartók, Francesco Antonioni (the world premiere of his 3 Preludi Diatonici), Frederic Rzewski, and Robert Schumann.

Emanuele Arciuli at the Sala Aurelia, Friday 5 November

Elliott Carter’s Night Fantasies (1980) and Schumann’s Concert sans Orchestre (1836 version) bookended the concert. It was an inspired choice on the part of Arciuli, that brought into three dimensions for the capacity audience Carter’s famous stated aim in that piece “to capture the poetic moodiness that, in an earlier romantic context, I enjoy in works of Robert Schumann”.

Outside the Villa Aurelia, 11 PM Sunday 7 November

It would take a lot of keystrokes to detail the next installment in the Nuova Consonaza series, the traditional music marathon that took place at the Villa Aurelia for a very full six and a half hours on the afternoon and evening of Sunday 7 November. For a brief appraisal of the roughly dozen solo and ensemble performances, sound installations, and film screenings that took place in practically every available room, nook and cranny of the Villa—see Claudio Listanti in La Voce here.

Treated piano at the Villa Aurelia, 9.30 PM Sunday 7 November

At the centerpiece of the program was the “Focus Americano”, featuring the music of the two current American Academy Fellows in Composition, Huck Hodge (Luciano Berio Rome Prize recipient) and Paul Rudy (Elliott Carter Rome Prize recipient). Hodge’s “A Distant Mirror” was performed brilliantly by clarinetist Massimo Munari and pianist Massimiliano Tisano of the Associazione G.E.R.M.I.

Then Paul Rudy presented the first three pieces from his new CD Cannac (Mayan for “there is no form without spirit”). The pieces—“Earth’s umbilical: Yoda tree”; “Imagination games: the cow jumped over the moon”; “Messenger Particles: peculiar gravity”—seemed to merge into one as a seamless digital sound collage which Rudy accompanied on various traditional and non-traditional percussion instruments, as well as ukelele.

From left, Massimiliano Tisano, composer Huck Hodge, Massimo Munari, following performance of Hodge’s “A Distant Mirror”

From left, Italian Fellow in the Humanities Marco Rossati (Scuola Normale Pisa) and current Fellow Current Fellow in Musical Composition Huck Hodge

Current Fellow in Musical Composition Paul Rudy in performance

Paul Rudy

The Nuova Consonanza Festival relies on the support of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita’ Culturali, the Comune di Roma, Regione Lazio, and the Provincia di Roma. Other venues include the Accademia Filarmonica Romana, Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia, Istituto Polacco, Istituto Svizzero di Roma, Pro Helvetia, and the Edizioni Suvini Zerboni.

5.30 PM Sunday 7 November in the Sala Superiore of the Villa Aurelia, Lucy Rosei (mezzosoprano) and Paolo Marcello Venzi (guitar)

10 PM Sunday 7 November in the Sala Aurelia. The ensemble HEKA (Frosinone), following its performance of Cineocchio (2010), scored to the film Kinoglaz. Zizn’ Vrasploch (1924) of Dziga Vertov

10.55 PM Sunday 7 November in the Sala Aurelia. The Sudden Swing Quartet, with (from left) Luca Tilli, Alberto Popolla, Gianfranco Tedeschi and Fabrizio Spera.

11.13 PM Sunday 7 November in the Sala Aurelia


“Will it be atonal?” One audience member was heard to voice this question just prior to a concert on the evening of Thursday 14 October at the Villa Aurelia as part of the 31st season of the festival of contemporary music known as Nuovi Spazi Musicali (“New Musical Dimensions”), directed by Ada Gentile.

The answer to the question was, most enjoyably, yes and no. An audience of approximately 100 from Rome and from the American Academy gathered in the Sala Aurelia to listen to the giften and versatile pianist and composer Curt Cacioppo, Ruth Marshall Magill Professor of Music at Haverford College, perform a wide range of contemporary piano music.

Prominently featured in the program was a beautiful and lyrical meditation entitled “Insieme” (1980) by AAR Fellow, Resident, and longtime Music Liaison and Advisor Richard Trythall (FAAR’67, RAAR’71).

Performing on a splendid full-size Steinway grand, Cacioppo also presented music by his Haverford College colleague Ingrid Arauco (“Envoi,” 1980) and by his son Charles Cacioppo (“Klavierstuck III,” 2010), as well as an ingenious “Bagatella” (2009) by Beatrice Campodonico, originally composed for a marathon performance of the 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven and featuring variations on the solemn motif of the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. A strong anchor of the program was Leon Kirchner‘s 1995 piece “L.H.” (for “Left Hand”), composed for Leon Fleisher.

Pianist and composer Curt Cacioppo. Photo courtesy of the artist

Pianist Curt Cacioppo prepares to perform in the Sala Aurelia at Nuovi Spazi Musicali (Thursday 14 October)

Including pieces by Paolo Porto (“Sonata Mediterranea,” 2010) and Riccardo Piacentini (“Venexian,” 2007), the program concluded with “Three Pieces in Tribute” by Cacioppo himself: “Precious Lord, Take My Hand (for Martin Luther King),”  “Burlesca (to Luigi Cerantola, after Mozart),” both of 2010, and “Homage to Diz (for Dizzy Gillespie),” of 2004.

Cacioppo offered three further pieces of his own as encores, including one named for Boathouse Row, on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. In addition to Richard Trythall, composers Paolo Porto and Beatrice Campodonico were present in the audience.

Senior Advisor of the AAR Richard Trythall (FAAR’67, RAAR’71) with current Fellow Paul Rudy

Current Fellow Huck Hodge with Andrew Heiskell Arts Director Karl Kirchwey (FAAR’95)


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