23 April, 2019
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«I’m an entertainer who offers dance music, I do not like being tied to a single genre. I love Umbria for its culture and for the ability to maintain its own peculiarities».

I send a message to DJ Ralf to plan the interview with a bit of apprehension –  something that rarely happens to me – but we are talking about Ralf. As a teenager I watched him many times (from a certain distance and in the dark) stood behind the console like a sort of untouchable deity of music. So I was quite excited. He answeres immediately to my text: “You can call me now, if you want, I have just came back from the spa”. We begins to chat, and I discover a Ralf, or rather an Antonio or Antonello Ferrari (all his names), unexpected and very close to Umbria. Born in Bastia Umbra and grown up in Sant’Egidio, dj Ralf does not need any introduction, he “made” dance – and he still does – millions of people allover the world, a true icon of night clubbing since 1987.

 

Dj Ralf

The first question is customary: what is your link with Umbria?

It is a very intense link, in fact, I have always remained here, despite Umbria has not a well organized trasportation system and I usually travel a lot due to work. I live near Lake Trasimeno and I have never thought about changing, even when it would have been more useful to live in a city with much more opportunities. Perugia and Umbria are very lively places from a cultural and musical point of view. So beyond the love that I have for my land, there is a real pleasure in living in a place with a strong presence of artistic expressions.

Why are you called Ralf?

It comes from the animated cartoon Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf that I used to watch with my friend Laura, at that time, I attended the first year of the middle school. I looked like the dog Sam, because of my long hair in front of the eyes were exactly like its. This dog used to greet the wolf saying: “Hello Ralph!”. I was very fond of this animated cartoon and everyone started to call me “Ralf”.  I became Ralf before being dj Ralf.

Why did you decide to use it also in your profession?

It’s not something that I really decided: I started playing and everyone already knew me as Ralf. This nickname has brought me luck, my wife – we got married last year after over 30 years of engagement – has always called me Ralf, but if I came back I would use my real name: Antonio Ferrari.

How much Antonio is similar to Ralf?

It’s not an alter ego even if I’ve often thought of doing something using my real name, but I’ve never done,  but who knows … I’m still young! Antonio is a nice name, but the last person who called me like that was my elementary school teacher because everyone always called me Antonello. I had an uncle priest and since there isn’t a saint called Antonello, I was registered as Antonio, but at that point my family always called me Antonello. From the first year of middle school I have become Ralf.

Many names mean many personalities?

I have many names but I am only one, even if each of us has different personalities.

From your console, how did you consider changes in Umbria during these these years, both on a social and musical level?

There have been changes to the same extent that there have been in other places. For example, as far as music is concerned, Umbria has very special events, which have become a real Italian heritage and not only. I talk of Umbria Jazz, of the “Festival dei Due Mondi” of Spoleto, of the Music Festival of Todi, of the Festival of Nations in Città di Castello and of the last UniverseAssisi, all very interesting realities. Not to mention the classical music by the “Amici della musica” of Perugia. Umbria has both cultural and musical excellences it is certainly a rich region. Even from the religious point of view it offers so much, even for an unbeliever like me: there are places of encounter, social and cultural exchange that go beyond religion itself.

Is there the lack of something in Umbria compared to other realities?

The first thing that comes to my mind is what I said at the beginning: the lack of infrastructures. But this is also its charm: who wants to visit Umbria, is someone who really wants to do it. The region has a niche tourism and it is no less beautiful than other regions. Surely it is no less beautiful than Tuscany: our villages have retained their typicality and their character much more. All this makes me love Umbria even more.

Have you ever thought about a concert in Perugia like the one in which you performed  years ago on the occasion of Umbria Jazz?

I often think about it. I would be gladly to do it again, but it does not depend only on me, someone has to ask me. I am very lively and willing to organiza these events. I like them because I have the opportunity to experience different musical types compared to the genre that distinguishes me. I’ve never had a specific musical direction: I’m an entertainer who proposes dance music, I do not like being tied to an unique genre.

 

Has your audience changed in these years?

Yes and no. The ritual that we organize and which we participate in over the years has not changed much. The music has changed, but the sense of going dancing has remained unchanged. The style to dance can be changed, but that style could go back in fashion: people love to dance and this will never change. Everyone loves a certain rhythm and a certain style of music, but every music has its own dignity.

When do you think of turning off the console permanently?

I never thought of it. The artists never stop, they continue until they want and until results are obtained: I still have both desire and results. Obviously things change over the years, but, I work as if it was the very first day.

Confess to the public something that nobody knows about you.

On some respects, I’m very compulsive, like as regarding food. An aspect that I should solve in some way (laughs). I like eating, as you can see looking at me.

What is your favourite food?

The bruschetta. It is a food linked to childhood: bread and olive oil with bruscato bread and nothing else. When I’m hungry, however, I prefer pasta.

I read that you use some kind of “supertitious spell” before your performances: are they always the same or have they changed during the time?

They have always been the same for years. In the console the suitcase of the new discs goes to the left while that of the older discs to the right: this is a ritual that I have never changed in my life. Then, if I drop my headphones, I beat them three times on the mix; without my battery I feel lost: even if there is enough light I have to use my flashlight to look for things and discs.

Inevitable is the black t-shirt…

Yes. Sometimes I try to get out of this routine and I wear T-shirts with some writing but I can not stand them more than an hour. In truth, I use black T-shirts because they make me look thinner, if I had another body I would also wear colorful T-shirts (he jokes).

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

Vertical, shady, loyal.

The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…

The cake called torcolo.

Music breaks the barriers of language and goes beyond superstructures, judgments or stereotypes

Nil Venditti is more than a promise, in the field of classical music. Born in Perugia, 23 years ago, she is a real “magic wand“. Despite her young age he has already directed many orchestra. Recenty she has performed with famous soloists like Fazil Say at the piano and the Philarmonica of Ljubljana or Vladim Brodsky at the violin and Rossini’s symphony. In October 2017 she won the second prize, and the special prize of the orchestra at the Jeunesses Musical competition in Bucharest with Lup Octavian at the cello. Now she is attending the master’s degree in conducting at the Hochschule der Künste in Zurich under the guidance of Master Johannes Schlaefli, one of the world’s most famous master for conductors.

 

Nil Venditti

What is your link with Umbria?

I was lucky enough to be born in the beautiful Perugia in a curious way: my mother is from Ankara in Turkey, she came to Perugia to study Italian at the University for Foreigners. My father, is from Ciociaria, he was born in Rome, came to Perugia supported in his studies by the ONAOASI. They met in front of the Fountain Maggiore, in Piazza IV Novembre, and there, their love story began.

You started studying and playing the cello, when did you decided to become a conductor?

More than choosing it, I was directed to it. I played in the Juniorchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia and one day the conductor, Master Simone Genuini, decided to encourage some of us to direct , for educational purposes. He must have noticed something interesting in my gestures because he directed me to the best schools and suggested  methe best Italian teachers.

At the age of 23, you have already directed a Christmas Concert in the Chamber of Deputies and one at the Quirinale and in 2015, you have been awarded the Abbado prize instituted by the Miur: where do you want to get there? What is your dream?­

It seems perhaps banal, even a little naive, but my greatest dream has always been to change the world through music. Music has supernatural power, capable of breaking the barriers of language and communicating directly with that part of us that does not depend on superstructures, judgments or stereotypes.

How do you make yourself obey by an entire orchestra?

Rather than being obeyed by an orchestra, I would say that it would be better if you succeed in seducing its components. If you get on the podium with humility towards people who are unquestionably much more experienced than me, you will always meet smiling eyes and, I dare say, musicians will be always ready to help you in order to realize a wonderful concert.

And above all how do you transmit your ideas, your vision of music to the other components?

The first rule to convey your ideas is to have them in mind. The clearer the musical idea is in your mind, the easier it will be to find a gesture for expressing it. Then it is clear that when the gesture is not enough we can resort to the use of the word, but this usually occurs rarely.

A necessary characteristic for a conductor?

Empathy. Anyone can study music in every smallest detail for years and years. But what can not be learned is the ability to communicate with many living beings in a few thousandths of a second and be able to create a serene and productive work environment.

The gestures that a director  seem almost made by chance: which  are the characteristic of the relationship to create with the orchestra?

Every little movement of a conductor is always a concentrate of information for one or more instrumentalists. There are no movements that means nothing. In general we use the right hand to give information about the rhythm, while the left hand to manage the expressiveness and interpretation of the piece that is being performed. The orchestra is always to be considered as a family and the conductor as a stranger, “a guest” who becomes part of that family for a couple of days. It is clear  that, not with all the orchestras there is always the same feeling but in any case we should be able to build the best possible contact so as to be free to perform the concert without stress.

The Umbrians, and especially the citizens of Perugia, have the reputation of being closed: do you consider yourself as a close person?

I was born, grew up and I learned to love it. Of course having traveled so much, I do not recognize myself  in this characteristic and I can not say whether it is an advantage or a disadvantage.

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

Green, warm, protected.

The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…

The wonderful Umbrian hills in the summer, covered with that particular green that we only have in our beautiful region.

Michele Bravi left Città di Castello to conquer Italy. With charisma and a powerful voice he’s becoming certainty in the Italian music scene.

Michele Bravi

Michele Bravi

 

The Umbrian singer is touring the Peninsula with his NewPagineTour: his job keeps him away from home, but the bond with it is still strong.

What’s your connection with Umbria? 
I am particularly fond of this region, I have a lot of memories related to my childhood. I would like to come back more often; unfortunately my job doesn’t allow it.

Is there a song that could describe Umbria?
No, it isn’t. But I would like to tell my land through music.

X Factor, Sanremo and tour: would have ever imagine all of this when you lived in Città di Castello?
I dreamed it, singing has always been my dream. I could not imagine my life without music, everything I experience is transformed into songs and at this moment I am very satisfied with my achievements.

His tour is called NewPagineTour: what new pages would you like to write?
There are many things that I would still like to tell, but I did not have time given my young age and the little time available. After Sanremo, it was all a whirlwind of emotions and commitments. I would like to live new experiences to find new inspirations and interpretations.

Have you ever felt that Umbrian stereotype of being narrow-minded, or did someone make it notice to you? 
Umbria is at the center of our country and represents the beating heart of Italy. Surely the fact that it is difficult to reach can suggest that the Umbrians are closed people, but it is only an impression.

Three words to describe Umbria… 
Solar, green and intimate.

The first thing that comes to mind thinking about this region… 
My home, my family, my origins and everything related to my childhood.

 

 

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