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Carmine Catalano

Carmine Catalano, born in 1995 in Benevento (Italy), is an Italian and Austrian-based classical guitarist and teacher. In the last years he started participating in music competitions and pursuing a regular concert activity that has so far led him to perform in Italy, Austria, Belgium and the USA among others in concert halls such as the Wiener Saal, Schloss Höch, BOZAR and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.   Recent awards include Caneres International Music Competition Vienna, Manchester International Music Competition, Franz Schubert International Music Competition, Charleston International Classical Music Competition, UK International Music Competition, Sibelius Music Competition, Euterpe Music Awards, Fanny Mendelssohn International Music Competition, Odin International Music Competition, International Mozart Competition Vienna, London Classical Music Competition, Golden Classical Music Awards, Grand Prize Virtuoso, European Classical Music Strings Award, London Young Musician, International Moscow Music Competition, Vivaldi International Music Competition, MAP-International Music Competition, American International Music Competition Cleveland, New York Classical Music Competition, World Classical Music Awards,  Grand  Prize  Virtuoso,  Golden  Classical  Music  Awards,  BTHVN  International  Music Competition, Birmingham International Music Competition, European  Classical Music Awards Annual Grand Prix 2023, Lugano International Music Competition.

Can you introduce yourself and talk about how you got into music?

"Hello everyone! Before I get into the hearth of the speech, I would like to thank the jury of the European Classical Music Awards Competition for the award and the Competition Board forgiving me the opportunity to be interviewed, among other things for the first time. My first encounter with music was completely accidental and unexpected. I did not grow up in a family of musicians or devotees of the musical art or in a social context in which  there was a particular cultural ferment in this regard. When I was about to start middle school in my hometown, at the time of enrolment I discovered together with my parents  that the school offered the possibility of playing a musical instrument as an optional afternoon activity. I was immediately attracted to the violin, but in order to participate in lessons, one had to pass an entrance examination, which I did not pass. The school ’s violin teacher at the time invited me to give up music for lack of talent and devote myself to  something else. And so I did, until one day the guitar teacher, Silvia Cavalli, seeing that I  was still potentially interested, offered me a trial lesson with the promise that she could  accept me as a student if another student gave up his or her place in her guitar class. The following week a guy dropped out of Silvia Cavalli ’s class, and then my adventure with the six strings began. I am still immensely grateful to her not only for introducing me to the instrument, but more importantly for lending me CDs and magazines, giving me free extra lessons, playing forme sometimes whole hours telling me the stories behind the great pages of the guitar repertoire and the lives of composers. She gave me a model of teaching and pedagogy made up of passion, expertise, commitment and active pursuit of talent."

Where did you study your music?

"I obtained my first degree in music performance at the Conservatory of my hometown in Italy, Benevento. Then I perfectioned myself following masterclasses and courses, among others the Summer Academy of the University Mozarteum in Salzburg and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena. Currently, I’m pursuing a degree in Music Pedagogy at the Innsbruck Department of the University Mozarteum in cooperation with Innsbruck Conservatory of Music and I started in the last one year a career project at the Tiziano Rossetti International  Music Academy. For the next years I’m planning to deepen my artistical skills enrolling in  a new program in Music Performance."

What three words describe your performance style?

"As regards my performance style I would just say “in the making”. In the past two years I feel that I have made a significant step forward in the way I present myself on stage and in the technical mastery of the instrument so that I can express my artistry in a way that prioritizes a more authentic relationship with the musical text that ranges from analysing historical sources to structuring more solid interpretive frameworks that are so independent as possible of patterns related to the technical and organological limitations of the instrument. But it is this last aspect that I feel I need to explore further especially with regard to the methodological issue, that is, how to structure the time and type of work (listening, book study, pure practice on the instrument) to achieve the goal in reasonable time and with the right amount of effort."

Would you like to share your experience participating in the European  Classical Music Awards Competition?

"Participating in the European Classical Music Awards Competition, as well as in other opportunities for musicians to challenge themselves online has been a really rewarding experience. Ibegan sending videos of performances to be evaluated at online competitions around the time of the pandemic because of the difficulties of traveling and also the financial difficulties I had to face at a younger age and in recent years that did not allow me to be able to schedule long trips and stays at the places where many competitions were being held. Thanks to the ECM Awards, I have had the opportunity to confront competent juries of high artistic calibre, receiving in some cases extremely useful feedback and a not inconsiderable load of motivation that has pushed me forward with projects and ideas that I hope will become more and more concrete."

Can you explain a bit about the winning work(s) you entered into the 2023 Annual Grand Prix, and why you chose them?

"The program synthesizes the two main paths to which I have devoted the last year ’s concert activity: women composers and Italian virtuosity. I took the first path stimulated by my wife, a literary scholar with a major focus on women ’s studies and writing. As we often talk about the subject, she stimulated me to try to find a way to apply her literary research questions to the music performance. So I started researching works in this direction in order to be able to perform them in concert: it was absolutely worth it! The second path has been a pet peeve of mine for several years. The music of Legnani and, above all, Paganini has always fascinated me, but I have not always been able to overcome the obstacle of romantic virtuosity in the past. In recent years, I have therefore tried to find a new way to access this repertoire, which is slowly taking shape in a more systematic way.  Presenting those compositions for the Competition has been a way to showcase the state of the art of this work. I’m glad it worked!"

Is there anything else you would like to add to the interview?

"As through the last years I learned the importance of saying thanks, I just would to thank Nicola Lettieri. He knows why. Thanks again for having me in the artists’ interview!"

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