“Deep within my soul there is, of course, music, but there is also Sicily, my birthplace and my homeland. This ancient land, with its layers of tragic history, diverse cultures, startling beauty, decaying grandeur and extraordinary climate are inevitably entwined with my own artistic sensitivity and creativity.” Alessia Pianelli, Sicilian cellist & composer
Award-winning cellist and composer Alessio Pianelli is a musician intent on drawing together the traditions of classical music, the innovations of 21st century art and the profound influences of his cultural environment to kindle new musical presentations, collaborations and ideas. Born into a family of musicians in Erice, he studied in Palermo with Giovanni Sollima and in Basel with Thomas Demenga and also cites Mario Brunello and Wolfgang Boettcher as important influences.
He regularly performs as soloist with symphony and chamber orchestras, including Basel Symphony Orchestra, Baden-Baden Philharmonic and RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Turin. Also an avid chamber musician, he participates frequently in renowned international events such as America’s Marlboro and Piatigorsky Festivals and Switzerland’s Davos Festival for young artists and has performed at many notable venues including Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Hajuko Hall in Tokyo and the Tonhalle in Zurich.
As a composer, he won first prize with his work Tanzen Wir! at the International Composition Competition in Clausura organised by the Ravenna Festival and 100cellos in 2016. The following year he was invited by French violinist Marianne Piketty to her Musique aux 4 Horizons festival in Ronchamp as composer in residence. Publishers of his works include Mueller & Schade and Casa Musicale Sonzogno.
He is a co-founder of Almendro Musica, a progressive studio in Palermo that is a breeding ground for like-minded artists, technicians and producers intent on collaboration and creativity across the widest range. Pianelli’s passion and obsession with the solo cello suites of J S Bach form the basis of his current long term recording project for the Almendra Music label: an ongoing series of albums exploring Bach’s six solo cello suites coupled with lesser known contemporary works as well as his own compositional responses. The first album, Prélude, released in 2014 features Bach’s Cello Suite No 1 alongside works by Thomas Demenga, Sulkhan Tsintsadze and Mieczyslaw Weinberg while the second, Sulla Quarto, features the fourth cello suite with Pianelli’s own work for two cellos. Both are also featured in two specially made films in collaboration with Antonio Cusimano/3112htm.
Pianelli received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship in 2018. He plays a 1921 Evasio Emilio Guerra cello.
Photographs by Baldo Messina / Francesca Cicala / Antonio Cusimano