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PANDEMIC CHATS - UL

Based in Rome, Italy and London, UK - Umberto Jacopo Laureti is a concert pianist that performs both solo and chamber music engagements in Europe and abroad. In 2019, he debuted his album Piano Renaissance released on the Master Chord label.





MA: Hi Umberto - where are you these days? and where are you spending most of your time during the year?


UL: Hi Michael! So happy to answer your questions and really love the “Unblocked Musician” idea. At present, I am in my hometown, San Benedetto, a small city by the Adriatic sea - in central Italy. I am currently living here as I teach in the civic music school.


In the meantime, I am completing my PhD in London, UK (usually traveling once or twice per month for this). I am often in Rome, where there is a part of my family, friends, and chamber music partners. I travel quite a lot across Italy and Europe for concerts so in the past months the routine was staying home and teaching the first half of the week and travel for concerts or PhD work in the second half.



MA: Do you have any projects or concerts this summer or anything that you are working towards in the coming months?


UL: I have just played my first concert since February. It was an open air concert, in a socially distanced park: a very beautiful location, overlooking both the sea and hills of my region.


It was a bit of a new experience for me as insects were attracted by the lights on the piano and hanging around the piano keyboard quite a lot during the first piece of the program. Just a tip for us musicians: get ready for outdoor concerts by bringing an insecticide, it could really save the concert!


Apart from this, I will have another solo recital in my region later on this month and a viola recital come September in Bari, a beautiful city in the South of Italy.


MA: How is Italy handling in bringing back some of the live concerts? What sort of ideas and structures?


UL: I think everyone has really missed the live concerts, especially in their ritual of attending them as well as sharing the concentration, energy, and emotions. Live streaming is nice but of course it is a different situation. Open air concerts are the most popular choice right now with people feeling more safe outside than inside.


Apart from open air concerts, there have been opera festivals already: the Puccini Festival and Macerata Opera Festival both presented socially distanced operas, even re-imagining Gianni Schicchi at the time of Covid-19!

It has also been quite common to make use of big theatres for chamber music events, re-designing the stage and the seats to suit this time. Teatro La Fenice in Venice did something quite spectacular: they built a sort of ship that embraced the stalls and the stage - swapping the usual positions between the musicians and the audience.



MA: You released a wonderful album of Italian music back in November 2019 - can you give us details about the album, context, and inspiration?


UL: I have always been interested in Italian piano music; it is a small rarity as during the 19th century, Italian composers were mainly busy writing operas. But from Busoni onwards this has changed, and some new original repertoire was created, mixing new European languages with the rediscovered ancient music. I have always been fascinated by this historical moment and it was my dream to record this music. A chance came when I met Stefania Passamonte, who owns the label Master Chord; she introduced me to Stefano Faggioli, curator of the concerts at the Italian Cultural Institute in London where I first presented the CD. At the same time, I recorded the CD in Italy, in a small and wonderful theatre of my region. It was like putting together two worlds of mine; it was very special indeed. In addition, the CD is an essential part of my PhD at the Royal Academy of Music - which is about the influence of Ferruccio Busoni.


MA: Finally, how do you keep up with the stamina of the travel between cities for concerts, research work, engagements, and projects? What do you do to maintain yourself and any advice for keeping up with practice and life overall?


UL: Sometimes it is difficult to divide myself between all of these activities, I just find it energetically difficult to change the mindset and jump from one to the other. But over time you gradually become more accustomed to it and better organised.


Practicing is essential to maintain my balance - the rest is more flexible. I am learning to manage all of these activities by having a very organised practice schedule - not a lot of time but very focused and sometimes even using the “pomodoro technique”!


I like to decide in advance what am I going to accomplish each week in terms of: piano practise, research, admin, personal life etc. It helps me to track progress and stay motivated.


I love to go biking, do some yoga and reading as well as spending time with my loved ones. And the seaside of course! I go for a quick swim every time I have the chance.








© Michael Alampi - Unblocked Musician

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