We are in conversation with Nicola Possenti; Nicola Possenti was born in Rome in 1996. At the age of 19 he obtained his piano diploma at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Roma. Two years later he obtained the Chamber Music Master diploma with full marks with honours with Francesca Vicari at the “Conservatorio Licinio Refice” in Frosinone and, in the following year, he obtained the Piano soloist Master with full marks, honours and jury’s special mention.
Tell us a little about yourself [who are you - what do you do - what’s your background]
Hi everyone, my name is Nicola Possenti, I’m 24 years old and I’m an Italian pianist. At the age of 19 I got a diploma in piano at “Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia” in Rome and then I graduated in chamber music, attending violinist Francesca Vicari’s class. I’m currently entering upon the career of concerts, both in solo and in chamber music repertoire, and I’m also teaching piano.
"I was lucky enough to start studying piano very soon. My father is a pianist and, as I have always had a piano at home, the approach to this instrument was natural for me".
Can you tell us about your artistic journey since the beginning up-to-date [how your research developed, transformed and in what direction and why]
I began to study and practise the piano at the age of three with my teacher Elena Pigliapoco and Guido Gavazzi, who had a very huge impact on my piano style, as my studies were diverse and enriching me with different styles. Later I studied at "Ottorino Respighi" and earned my diploma in 2015 at "Santa Cecilia" attending maestro Frnacesco Martucci's class.
This was a turning-point in my music career, because at the age of eighteen I got an opportunity to study at the prestigious Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, under the guidance of maestro Pawel Kaminski. I didn’t have a piano at home, so I couldn’t practise when I wanted to; at the conservatoire there were two classes for the students, that could be booked for two/four hours a day; there were many students who also didn’t have their own piano and needed to practise. At my first day I arrived at 9 am and all the classes had been booked until 7 pm. I understood that I had to adjust myself to this new environment, characterised by a positive competition, where everyone studied hard, without taking advantage of others.
After this decisive year for my music life, I met the maestro Pierluigi Camicia, who supported me during the final part of my path towards my diploma and became - and still is - the reference point of my musical career. During the year in Warsaw, I was introduced to the beauty of Chamber music, by my music partner, a Polish cellist, Mikolaj Blaszczyk. After which I undertook chamber music studies with Francesca Vicari, violinist of "I Musici", a fundamental figure for my growth in this field.
"I believe that the beauty of chamber music lies in being able to compare and study with other partners a vast and diverse repertoire, exchanging a knowing look during a concert, and being able to create together something unique that can be conveyed to the audience on stage; it is a real teamwork".
Last year I had the opportunity to collaborate with a chamber music teacher, Lea Leiten, at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallinn. Also, working as an accompanist pianist at the same Academy, I had the chance to broaden my horizons in this great world of ensemble music. I currently play with Alice Notarangelo (violinist) and Leonardo Petracci (cellist) in the "Trio Enea". It's a unique project that involves 28 top-level teachers and aims at providing young chamber music players with one of the most complete and varied offers worldwide, under the guidance of the famous "AVOS Piano Quartet".
When I was a child, I conceived music as a game, but as time went by I began to see it as a potential life's work and now I'm really committed to the art of music.
Technology is an extremely vast and constantly growing world, but it cannot replace every aspect of the music field.
How do you see the tech evolution in your work in the next ten years?
Internet and social media has become quite important when communicating with the audience & indeed, I have my own web page managed by Keiros theatre, where everyone can keep up-to-date with my future concerts, and contact me for concerts or collaboration. Technological progress is a very delicate subject, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic, in which we must stay at home, and even those who have never had a good relationship with technology have found themselves adapting to it. As regards to music, it's more complicated; due to the closing of schools, I had to look for the best solutions to prepare good lessons for my students. For theoretical lessons, there are no big problems; the difficulties come when you have to listen to music performances via computer. The connection often doesn't work and the sound arrives late; further, in a piano lesson, it is important a direct contact with the student, the possibility to provide examples in real time so that the student can imitate and observe closely. The sound problem can be solved by using professional items; the contact with the student, even with the most cutting-edge technologies, can't be replaced by a computer screen.
In the field of chamber music this topic is more complex. Someone will surely come up with a virtual class where it's possible to play simultaneously with other people in the class, where the sound arrives immediately to those who are connected, making it possible to play together at a distance as if the other musicians were really close to them, as it happens during a rehearsal of an ensemble. This however can't replace every aspect of a real rehearsal, such as the exchange of glances that are very important for ensemble musicians in order to play really in unison or the study of movements that can help the members of the group to identify more easily some parts. Technology is an extremely vast and constantly growing world, but it cannot replace every aspect of the music field.
"The study of music is a never-ending journey, a constantly evolving process. You can't reach perfection".
How do you prepare for a concert and when do you think a piece is ready to be presented?
Preparing for a concert is a long journey that doesn’t end the day before the concert; every performance requires a different study. In the case of solo concerts, before I perform, I concentrate on practice and theory, trying to find out what led the composer to create a particular piece and in which historical period he lived, in order to understand his feelings at the time he was composing. When I feel free to change even just a sentence while I’m playing, compared to how I usually play it, or when I choose to adapt my music to what I feel, I am ready to show my piece to the audience.
The study of music is a never-ending journey, a constantly evolving process. “You can't reach perfection”. The piece also grows a lot on the stage; the performance of a concert rehearsal at home will always be different from the one presented on stage in front of hundreds of people; sharing with the audience is very inspiring, even when you start playing.
Name three artists and composers that inspire you the most?
I can't just choose three composers; the music world is so immense that I still can't say I prefer some artists over others: first I need to know and play most of their repertoire to answer this question. What is sure is that every musician feels he can give his best by playing some composers than others, depending on his own pianism or simply on the type of writing; as I said at the beginning of the interview, I don’t want to focus on a single musical genre but I'm always trying to expand my horizon and find, for each composer, the pieces on which I can best express my skills. I have always looked at the artists, trying to assimilate what I liked the most from each one of them and adapt it to my style, starting with my father, passing through the teachers I had and still have or the musicians I listen to at a concert.
As an artist what is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The first thing I understood - that can be true for other situations, both artistic and non-artistic - is that talent is not enough to go on in a career or to be appreciated. Having a talent is certainly an important gift, but everyone should always add the right dose of commitment and interest in what they do.To achieve great goals, we always need to work hard behind the scenes, for ourselves, but also because we have the responsibility of having to perform to an audience that also pays a ticket.
My mother taught me the importance of always keeping busy and keeping occupied by doing something or learning something new. In addition to many technical advice, my father taught me the approach to studying; you don't have to spend too much time on the same passage when you don’t succeed and you can’t find a way out; in those cases, it is better to study something else, go out, have fun and go back to that song another moment. It is not the quantity of the study that matters, but the quality.
A piece of advice that I have recently received and that I have treasured is the one of the composer Teresa Procaccini, for whom I got the chance to record a piece (Fantasia op.4) for her chamber music CD; she suggested me to accept, when possible, any work opportunity, because behind every opportunity, even the most unusual one, there’s going to be a more important one. And since I’m a workaholic, this advice is always right.
The last advice I would like to give to anyone who wants to undertake this constantly moving and unstoppable life is to never lose contact with reality and to learn to organise one's life knowing that it can change at any time, for example due to unexpected job offers. You should always be ready to adapt to changes.
"Talent alone is not enough to go on in a career or to be appreciated. Having a talent is certainly an important gift, but everyone should always add the right dose of commitment and interest in what they do".
What does “dare” mean to you in your life and in your work?
For me “dare” is the consequence of being aware of doing something. Going back to what I have said so far, you often find yourself in a relaxing atmosphere, not thinking about work, when suddenly someone asks you to play in a concert, and you actually don’t have enough time. This is something that happens very frequently; it takes courage to make this choice, you need to consider your own skills and limits before deciding whether to accept the offer; following the advice of the composer Teresa Procaccini, “you never know what is going to come, opportunity after opportunity”. It’s really a matter of courage.