Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Learning From a Virtuoso; Carlo Aonzo in New York City

From March 18-21, 2010, Carlo Aonzo presented a mandolin workshop at Chelsea Studios in New York City. Aonzo is one of the finest classical mandolinists in the world, and his highly anticipated workshop is in its 10th year.

According to Chiam Caron, who has organized the workshops from the beginning, “One day in 2001 I was driving around New York with Carlo, and he said, ‘I think I’d like to have a mandolin workshop in New York.’ That first workshop was about 9 people in my apartment.” Since that time, both the notoriety and attendance have steadily grown. Now, mandolin players join together from all over the US and Canada for the opportunity to experience the mandolin through the heart and soul of Carlo Aonzo.

One such student is Kristine Massari, owner of Trumpets Jazz Club and Restaurant in Montclair, NJ. Massari plays a classical, bowl back mandolin as second chair in the Bloomfield Mandolin Orchestra, and even she found the material challenging. “These are serious musicians who play at a high level.” Although the music is distributed to students months before the workshop, she observed that since the demands of each person’s life are different, not everyone could prepare to the same extent.

During the workshop, Aonzo teaches the finer points of nuance, style, dynamics and ensemble playing. “I learned how to be conducted and he made us aware of how certain passages should be played. He also exposed us to pieces by classical and contemporary composers, and taught us to listen more critically,” says Massari. “Carlo has a nice way of dealing with people and his interpretation of the music is very special because he is such a sensitive player.”

The workshop provided not only the opportunity to grow as a musician, but also to share the love of this music. Depending upon where you live, playing the mandolin can be isolating if there is little community support for the instrument in orchestras or ensembles. By bringing players together from all over North America, the workshop experience created camaraderie, solidarity and the opportunity to reinvigorate the players’ passion for the instrument.

To learn more about Carlo Aonzo and future workshops, click here. Carlo’s newest CD, Fantasia Poetica, with Elena Buttiero, explores repertory for mandolin and piano and can be purchased through his website.

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