Widgets Magazine

Video: Interview with Paolo Bartolani, Founder of Rites of Spring

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NFN: Paolo this is your third year with the Rites of Spring Music Festival, how has it been going?

PB: the festival has been growing as is our audience. We are also growing in terms of events, because we started 3 years ago in 2016 when was just four events – but the concept remains the same. The idea is to organize and present classical and contemporary music in multiple locations/venues. Normally I like to discover new locations, and the location becomes part of an artistic proposal- because each event is site specific.

This year we have 8 concerts from Riverhead to Orient on the North Fork and also in Quogue Wildlife Refuge, the format is to combine music with our natural environment and history. We have good partnerships with Stonybrook Music Department, and also Hofstra University and Pianofest in the Hamptons. This partnership for the festival is important because we can invite professional musicians, but also young professionals. We try to discover new talented musicians.

NFN: So for somebody who doesn’t know anything about the festival, how would you describe the types of music you are bringing to your audiences? It’s very eclectic. How would you describe the differences?

PB: The focus is always on presenting classical music, but in a new way. Not academic, not old fashioned – the idea is to involve a new generation to classical music, and how to attract a new young audience. It’s quite difficult for everybody, but the combination of an unusual venue and a unique music product are also quite interesting and original. That combination is successful.

NFN: I saw that for this Saturday your performer is a lutenist, what is a lutenist?

PB: It’s not easy to listen to a lute, because lute is part of big a family of ancient musical instruments. Christopher Morrongiello is one of the refined musicians of renaissance and baroque music, and he will perform our recital with different kinds of lutes. The product is about English, Scottish, French and Italian songs – renaissance songs. The important thing to discover the instrument – the sound. Chris is also a professor at Hofstra University, and he is able to present and explain each piece, so it’s like an introduction to renaissance music.

NFN: That’s really interesting. So people who come to the event on Saturday will understand more about the lute, not only how to play it but why, the history behind it – you get an education a history lesson as well.

PB: It’s not really education because that’s not our goal right now – but it’s a way to introduce or connect to the audience. All concerts have a conversation, before the concert we have a music conversation and normally a musician or the composer, or we can invite a specialist and just converse with the musician to introduce the concert. What we like to do is also have feedback from the audience.

NFN: I think you have a headline event, based on what I saw last year. This is your final event at Laurel Lake Vineyards and you’ve got Masha Carrera coming back, doing quite a fantastic show. Tell us a little bit more about some of the songs we can expect to hear from this event, what’s in store?

PB: We call this final event Opera Night concert, and for sure we have a beautiful soprano from Italy, from Rome. The product is a little bit of an opera, but it’s also important to live this experience because the music is presented on this beautiful terrace overlooking vineyards during sunset. After the concert we have dinner. Mostly we perform Bellini and Rossini and Italian opera composers. What is new this year is we have another beautiful musician, Tomoko Fujita, on the cello. It’s like a second voice – but it’s not a human voice, it’s the cello – and cello has a conversation with soprano.

NFN: I can’t believe you can take an amazing event that I saw last year, and made it even better. It sounds like it’s going to be amazing! Congratulations Paolo.