Italian composer Ivan Fedele to create music for Vilnius after finding inspiration in the works of Kazys Varnelis
Italian composer Ivan Fedele to create music for Vilnius after finding inspiration in the works of Kazys Varnelis

Italian composer Ivan Fedele to create music for Vilnius after finding inspiration in the works of Kazys Varnelis

The fifth composer to take part in the Music for Vilnius project has arrived in Vilnius. During his visit Ivan Fedele will compose works for specially selected spaces in Vilnius to celebrate the capital’s 700th anniversary, turning them into long-term musical installations. Ivan Fedele, a renowned composer visiting Lithuania for the first time, was fascinated by the museums of Vilnius, and the works of Kazis Varnelis which became the source of inspiration him.

The most diverse corners of Vilnius have already been visited by Anna Korsun from Ukraine, Agata Zubel from Poland, Michael Gordon from the United States, Heiner Goebbels from Germany, and two more composers from Japan and Austria who looked for venues of inspiration for their future works about the city.

Ivan Fedele, an Italian, can be described as a Renaissance man, whose talents and interests are not limited to music. After studying piano performance, composition and philosophy at the University of Milan, and inheriting a passion for the exact sciences from his father mathematician, Ivan Fedele has become a composer using unique computer software in his colourful work.

The author of around 200 pieces of music performed by the most famous orchestras in Europe and a laureate of numerous prizes awarded by music critics in Italy and abroad, the acclaimed Ivan Fedele will be focusing on a piece of music dedicated to the 700th anniversary of Vilnius this autumn, and will amaze Lithuanians with his creativity.

“I’m happy to be able to participate in this project”

In Vilnius, Fedele visited the Lukiškės Prison, the National Art Gallery, the Energy and Technology Museum, the MO Museum, the National Gallery of Arts, as well as the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, but he was most impressed by the work of Kazys Varnelis. “I saw works of optical art in the MO Museum, and one painting by Kazys Varnelis made a big impression on me. Later, I visited his house-museum and thought that this was the place that could inspire me to create a musical piece for Vilnius. It would be great to translate images into sounds! In the museum I felt in the right place – I felt safe, comfortable. Suddenly, the idea of a piece came to me. At night, I kept waking up and thinking about paintings and music. I will compose this piece with great pleasure, because I have always had the idea of creating sounds as colours,” the composer explained his ideas.

According to Fedele, during his two-days’ visit he immersed himself in the life and history of Vilnius, noticing many people visiting museums and galleries here, interested in art. “I learned one more thing: that Bona Sforza, the Great Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania, came from the powerful Italian family of the Sforza dukes, who lived in Milan. And this is the city where I live now – these unexpected connections were a revelation to me! I was thrilled to be invited to join the project: it’s a great opportunity to get to know an unfamiliar country, its history, traditions, and people. I like the northern countries, where the light and the sky are different from the Mediterranean and the culture is unique. I am happy to be part of this project, together with great composers, many of whom are my friends”, the composer said.

“The universe is simple”

Ivan Fedele is one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to wait for his Muse – he can create anywhere, anytime. “I know that many of my colleagues need special conditions to create. I can think about music and create anywhere. I don’t just sit down and wait for an idea – it’s important for me to have it already. For instance, on may way to Lithuania I was creating music for a choir at an Italian airport: I was able to concentrate and distance myself from the environment. I think that if you have an idea, nothing can stop you. Then you don’t need any special conditions, no special space, no special situations. Of course, it’s better if you are in silence, calm, and focussed. The work of a composer is quite complex, involving many stages – from finding an idea, arranging the work, writing, and then revising it”, Fedele explained his creative work.

The composer is not a composer confined to his own musical bubble – he is also interested in and inspired by astronomy, physics and mathematics, among other disciplines, which influence his work. “I remember when I was six years old, my father described the universe to me, saying it was simple. If you think it ends somewhere, it isn’t true. Beoynd one ending there is another, and another, and another, and another one… I was moved by that idea of infinity and to this day the universe still inspires me. I imagine the cosmos, the spinning planets, the sounds and noises originating from each planet, because I think the universe is full of sounds. One of my most recent works I am proud of is Galileo’s Journey in cooperation with visual artist Andrew Queen. I imagined Galileo travelling from the edge of our solar system to the Sun with today’s precision instruments,” the composer shared his thoughts.

“I am impressed by text that inspires form”

Ivan Fedele has an official You Tube channel where you can listen to some of his works. He says that each of them is important to him for different reasons, and if the listener takes the time to listen to it, they will be able to distinguish the different styles of the pieces. The composer’s work is extremely varied, and he is open to innovation. In his composition La pierre et l’étang for string quartet, accordion and electronics he used for the first time a new system capable of sending signals of each musical movement directly to a computer, which interprets this information in real time according to the composer’s settings. This new technology, developed by Thierry Coduys at the Kitchen studio in Paris, opens up new compositional perspectives that have not yet been explored.

The composer lists works of which he is truly proud, such as the work for orchestra Scena, conducted by Carlo Muti at the famous La Scala, Le Ali di Cantor, a piece specially composed for the anniversary of the composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, Leading Lines, a composition for electronic music quartet, and many others.

Literary texts are also important to the artist. “I’m very impressed by them, they inspire the form of the work. I like texts leading to archetypes, like the ancient Greek poems about my land. I come from Lecce, a city in south-eastern Italy, in the Apulia region. I have written a piece for orchestra and vocals called Calimerita, which means ‘woman from Calimera’, and there is a small town called Calimera in the area. So, there are many sources of inspiration, but when I think about pure music, I often draw inspiration from physics and mathematics”, says Fedele.

Find out more about the project Music for Vilnius here.

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