The master Peppe Vessicchio, born in Naples in 1956
The national-popular culture, with which we are all impregnated, relegates Maestro Peppe Vessicchio to the constant presence on the podium as conductor of the Sanremo Festival Orchestra. Over thirty years, wand in hand, to hypnotize the audience of the Ariston, accompanying the Piccola Orchestra Avion Travel (conSentimento, 2000), Alexia ( To say no, 2003), Valerio Scanu ( For all the times, 2010) and Roberto Vecchioni Call me more love ( 2012). But for this philosopher of music, Neapolitan, born in 1956, weaned from the cabaret of the “Tre tre” (“short experience, but which allowed a” stockfish “as I was at the beginning to learn the tricks of the stage and the value of the smile that in life must never fail “) alongside the popular songs are the soundtracks (” I’m working on that of the latest film by Bille August, based on the novel You my by Erri De Luca), the concert activity (“yesterday evening in L’Aquila for the 70th anniversary of the Institute of Nuclear Physics and tomorrow evening in Rome for the 100th anniversary of the Catholic University” and will be awarded together with Sister Valentina Sala ), classical composition and even chamber music, such as the Tarantina, which on the sly has just been performed by the Soloists of La Scala.
A debut in Verona under trace. But perhaps MaestroVessicchio the great national-popular public needed to be warned no?
To tell the truth, I have not even communicated it to close relatives – he smiles under that thick beard that is the effigy of the “Verdi” Vessicchio -. We met with the Solisti della Scala a year ago and they asked me if I had an idea to match their program, of which I only knew Debussy and his trio. I thought about it and asked myself: what is the best expression of Italianness to combine with the French breath? I found the answer in tarantism, that is, in that capacity that our popular music has to exorcise pathologies linked to the sociological part of belonging. So I wrote the Tarantina working on a viola “ostinato” which is very demanding for the player, but fortunately among the Soloists of the Scala there is Giuseppe Russo Rossi who is from Puglia, a very committed and sensitive musician to this type of knowledge. Then the fact that the Tarantina it was not advertised it is only because it was an “encore”, therefore a composition not included in the program. But I consider it a stroke of luck and a privilege that my music has been listened to in the Theater which is a universal patrimony of musical culture.
“His music”, in 1990 had entered the Kremlin: the Moscow concert in honor of John Lennon. Unique experience in Russia or did you also have contacts with Ukraine at the time?
That Moscow concert remained unique. I indelibly remember the profound humanity of the musicians who made up the orchestra linked to the USSR foreign ministry. The great material poverty further confirmed their extraordinary generosity. I have never been to Ukraine but I have collaborated with many instrumentalists from that country, just as generous as the Russians … Now there is nothing to do: the desire for power is tied hand in glove with money and to take advantage of it is the war industry that triggers a destructive process of all the values that should inspire humanity.
Not the whole world of music has expressed itself as openly as you Maestro are doing …
I am for absolute disarmament. I know, it is utopian, but utopia is the goal that you do not lose, offering you the direction in which to point. So I agree with the Pope: even if you find yourself forced to deviate, do not lose sight of the goal of peace, rather pursue it at any cost.
In every war, one in three casualties are children. How do you live the role of artistic director of the Zecchino d’Oro?
The theme of the children’s song is very close to my heart. Those little ones are our follow up and should receive more formative and informative attention. I am working for the official introduction of music in primary education, that is, in one of the most fertile moments of a child’s growth. Do many famous songwriters send their songs to the Zecchino more and more? The experience contributions of these established authors are welcome, they can only improve the scenario.
And is his “return” on stage in Sanremo possible?
I live with the flow of life. If anyone needs me, I will be happy to interface and contribute, whether an emerging artist or an old core knowledge asks me it doesn’t matter.
The most exciting moment in its long Sanremo history?
I lived it ten years ago, thanks to Roberto Vecchioni when he won with Call me love again. Roberto was “taken to heaven” by a tornado of telephone votes … he, an old school singer-songwriter without a call-center, without the stern wind blown by the talent, without the thrusts of the discography of power. His message was so animated and pure that it became music and arrived directly, instinctively, I would even say preceding the set of distinct words. When you then analyze them you understand even more why you liked that song.
You mentioned the talent. She who was among the jurors of “Amici” believes that they are really the only possible way for a young artist to get to fa- your own music profession?
All the talents present on TV are a real opportunity to appear on the scene enjoying an important start. If the hull is solid and the pilot is capable he will begin his voyage. But only a few, a few, go on, many return to shore, and then maybe leave again, if they mature their baggage of skills on the basis of this additional experience of the talent. But for me, making music my profession means something else: it means investing in the knowledge of the chosen language, practicing it consistently, carefully, training one’s neuromuscular technique just like an athlete builds his path as a jumper, periodically raising his ‘rod and, first of all, engaging in the race with themselves.
Perhaps television and television language should also raise the bar a bit, especially in this historical moment.
The dividing line has certainly been crossed. “Television” is now a noun that indicates the host, the actor, the director … Nostalgia for the past can be counterproductive because it creates even more distance between the adult world and the new generations. But personally I can only look back and say that Pippo Baudo’s TV and Festivals represented the pinnacle. Also because Baudo, unlike his heirs, despite being good at him, used television and not vice versa was used by the medium. Baudo was the only showman capable of being superior to the host medium.
And what is the state of health of current music?
A long convalescence due to the historical fracture caused by the music of the ‘900. Today we can offer people life and experiences, a reunion with musical language and adapt to the century of great acceleration, but the damage done and the collateral effects are comparable to environmental disaster. In the last 50 years, plastic has built an artificial island in the Pacific the size of Spain … Unfortunately, music is polluted, like much of the planet we live on.
Is it possible to recycle or better still clean up?
Through knowledge and education we can recover beautiful music in the Greek sense, the one that manages to communicate objective aesthetic completeness by melody and style, and put aside the incomplete one that swims using only the arms but not the legs. Young people should be guided to study the instrument in their most fertile period, the one that goes from 12 to 18 years. So we have to go back to an “Italian model” of conservatory that we have canceled, while in the rest of the world it has been copied and with exceptional results.
Besides the summer concerts, what is in your imminent future?
I started writing “music for music” again. A Match for two cellos with piano refereeing … A spiritual work with choir and orchestra, LaMissa pro Soul, title “baptized” by Don Nunzio Galantino. The first performance with orchestra and choir took place in Pietrelcina, the birthplace of Saint Pio, a special man who attracted around him so many energies of good and to whom I have always been devoted. Just as I feel the Franciscan culture as mine, especially in his invitation to strip us of the superfluous to return to a life in purity. Even music must do it to regain possession of his spirituality, free from the compromises imposed by the merchants in the temple.