September 2017 Premieres

The Cloisters of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Fuentidueña Chapel at The Cloisters
of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

We hope this background information on Maestro Luisi interests you in the forthcoming world premiere of his St. Bonaventure Mass on September 17, 2017, at St. Bonaventure University, followed by a very special performance at The Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on September 19th.

Please visit “New Mass by Metropolitan Opera Conductor” for details.

Fabio Luisi - July 2017 SDG Composer of the Month

Fabio Luisi, conducting  

Today’s audiences recognize Grammy Award-winning conductor Fabio Luisi for many accomplishments: Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, General Music Director of the Zurich Opera, and Principal Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Add to that his position succeeding Zubin Mehta as Music Director Designate of Florence’s Opera di Firenze and the legendary Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 2018, and you would think he’s done it all!

But most do not know that he studied composition early in his music education.

After his career as a conductor took off, however, Maestro Luisi’s engagements around the world prevented him from having time to write more than a few works for chamber music and solo vocal music.

Now he has chosen to compose his first large work as a Mass for chorus, string ensemble, percussion, and soloists. Motivated by his deep spiritual faith, this commission is his gift to St. Bonaventure University to commemorate the 800th Anniversary of the birth of St. Bonaventure, one of the most influential theologians of the Middle Ages.

SDG is thrilled to be working with this consummate musician, and we want to introduce Fabio Luisi as our “Composer of the Month” for July 2017.

 

Fabio Luisi, with one of his pugs
Fabio Luisi with one of his pugs, Leonie

Family Roots

There is an intriguing interview with Mr. Luisi on “Classic Talk with Bing & Dennis,” in which the hosts ask Mr. Luisi if he came from a musical family. Luisi responds, “Not at all. My father was a conductor … a train conductor.” It was very difficult for his parents, Luisi went on to say, to cover the cost of piano lessons, but he credits their support, affirming that without them he could not have made the accomplishments he did. Because his mother always sat by his side when he practiced, she often said, “I learned music together with you.” 

Luisi began his piano studies at the age of four, and by the time he was seventeen, he had dreams of being a concert pianist and went to Paris to study piano with Aldo Ciccolini.  But as he began to coach singers, he found the work very rewarding, and this is what eventually steered his career path. 

 

Fabio Luisi, second season at the Met
Fabio Luisi in his second season as Principal Conductor at the Met

Doors Open

After his opera debut at the Graz Opera in 1984, conducting a production of Donizetti’s farce “Viva la Mamma,” he worked his way up through European opera houses as a coach and conductor, leading orchestras in Graz, Geneva, Leipzig, Vienna, and Dresden. 

His primarily European career took a sudden shift in 2010, when he stepped in to replace an ailing James Levine for performances of Puccini’s Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. For this “reserved yet approachable Genoa native,” as The New York Times described him, multiple doors opened. 

From his tenure as Principal Conductor of the Met beginning in 2011, to his current position as Principal Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, to his anticipated new position as Music Director of the Opera di Firenze and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Luisi’s conducting career seems to have no limits.

 

Fabio Luisi
Fabio Luisi named "Maestro of the Year" on Parterre Box (2011)

Compositional Roots

Yet, in the midst of this prolific activity, this busy conductor is also creating time to return to his compositional roots. When Luisi visited Chicago in 2008, to conduct the Dresden Staatskapelle, music critic Andrew Patner made an observation about Luisi that provides an insightful reason into why we just might want to pay special attention to Luisi as a composer:

“[This] is Luisi's most important gift: In addition to his technical abilities, his tremendous focus and his palpable energy (his players are on the edges of their seats much of the time), he has ideas about the music he plays—not eccentric, but deep ones. And whether he is presenting a narrative, as with Strauss, or showing us how Brahms solved a musical problem, he conveys a wonderful mixture of thought and art."—Andrew Patner

As you might expect from someone who grew up on Rossini, and who is a passionate fan of early Romantic operas, his composition style is traditional. Take a moment to listen to these one-minute excerpts from two Luisi vocal compositions:

 

Der Himmel hat eine Traene geweint (“Heavens has shed a Tear”) - poem by Friedrich Rueckert. Performed by mezzo-soprano Jane Henschel in Vienna, Austria; Barbara Luisi, violin; Fabio Luisi, piano. Later performed in Hamburg and Paris.

 

 Das Meer hat seine Perlen(“The Sea has its Pearls”) - poem by Heinrich Heine. Performed by soprano Renate Holm of the Vienna State Opera, where it was also premiered; Fabio Luisi, piano.

 

 

Fabio Luisi in his perfume workshop
Fabio Luisi in his one-person perfumery workshop
(Photo: Daniel Auf der Mauer, for The New York Times)

Connection to the Heart

There is one other tidbit you might be interested to know about Mr. Luisi. One of his passions, turned hobby, turned business, is his interest in perfumes. He started studying books and taught himself how to mix scents. His comments about the link between perfume and music are illuminating:

"[Perfume] is not so far from music; it is a blending of different things. In music you blend sounds, instruments; as a perfumer, you blend raw substances. Mixing them together, the result is something you’ve never experienced before. But music is different. Making perfumes requires time; it is not a spontaneous event. Making music, you have an idea of your interpretation, but in the moment of the event, of playing it, sometimes you have something more, a ‘magic’ more, that you didn’t plan. This is the beauty of it."—Fabio Luisi
(from "Fabio Luisi: Conductor, Part 2")

Is it any wonder that this conductor/composer believes, “Through music, you have a direct connection to your heart”?