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Sergio Gallo - Piano

Interview

1- You specialize in the repertoire of the Romantic period, especially Liszt and his contemporaries as well as the work of composers in Brazil, the nation of your birth. Clearly composers from Brazil are not as well known in the international circuit, do you think they deserve better recognition? Who are your favourites of this nation and why?

I do believe the music of Brazilian composers should be heard more often. With the exception of Villa-Lobos, most composers are not known outside Brazil. Francisco Mignone and Ernesto Nazareth write in a very elegant manner, it,is interesting to see their nationalistic idiom blended with European taste.

2- Is your family musical?

Yes, my uncle was a piano professor of the Conservatory of São Paulo.

3- Your recent release of Liszt’s transcriptions of operas by Meyerbeer received a four star rating from the BBC Magazine, September 2015. How did receiving this accolade feel like?

I feel honored to have my CD reviewed by such a prestigious magazine.

4- In 2011, you won the Global Music Awards “Award of Excellence” for your album, Mostly Villa-Lobos: 20th Century Piano Music from the Americas. Clearly you were delighted with this award and can you tell us more of the contents and composers you highlighted in this album?

My purpose was to give an overview of the different music styles in Brazilian music, for instance, the work “Minha Terra” by Barroso Neto is a refined miniature, while “Rudepoema” by Villa-Lobos, is a large structure considered by many as one of the most important pieces from the 20th century piano repertoire. Ernesto Nazareth is a very important composer who influenced the work of many future composers.

5- You received a grant from the Henry Cowell Incentive Funds at the American Music Center in New York, to record works by the composer. How did this project go like and what does his music evoke in you?

It was a new experience for me, and I am glad I worked on this unique repertoire. I am still amazed by Cowell's creativity and daring experimentation.

6- You have twice toured North Dakota with a Challenge America Fast-Track Grant award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Can you tell us about this project and how this region’s citizens, who presumably are not very exposed to classical music, received you?

The concerts were very well received, and I felt that the audience was eager to hear the music. I left with the feeling that music is a true universal language.

7- Your musical training between 1987 and 1998 took you on a journey from the Conservatoire Européen de Musique de Paris to Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest to the University of Cincinnati to the University of California, Santa Barbara. Clearly along this training you were mentored by some remarkable tutors, can you highlight those who had the greatest influence on you?

My teacher in Brazil was Joao de Sousa Lima, a former student of Isador Philip and Marguerite Long. He was a marvelous musician who inspired me greatly during our lessons. Anna Stella Schic mentored me in Paris, and she was a great pianist who recorded the complete works by Villa-Lobos. In Hungary, I was exposed to various teaching methods, and enjoyed the lessons with Gulyas Marta and Falvai Sandor. I decided to pursue graduate studies in the USA, and had many performance opportunities since. Eugene and Elizabeth Pridonoff were my teachers and often played duo concerts.

8- Which competition or appearance do you treasure most?

I was thrilled when I won the concerto competition of the São Paulo Symphony and performed Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini with the marvelous orchestra. The prize also opened the doors for me to receive a scholarship from the government to study in Paris and Budapest.

9- Can you share with us an abiding memory in connection with one of your performances or competitions?

I have often toured with Zeynep Ucbasaran, and with our close friend Miguel Chavaldas. When we play together, all the wonderful memories of places we performed together come to mind.

10- How often do you practice?

I am always practicing and learning new repertoire.

11- What advice would you have to music students and recent graduates at the start of their journey?

It is a journey of hard work and patience. The most important is to keep one’s inspiration fresh, so the musician never stops to grow.

To return to Sergio’s profile:

submission November 2016