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by Stefano Bollani
LA LETTURA, 26/01/2020

LA LETTURA, Il Corriere della Sera, 26 january 2020.
Written by Stefano Bollani, on the 50th anniversary of the album JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR.

United Kingdom, at the dawn of the 70s. 

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice decide to write an opera, more specifically a rock opera on the Passion of Jesus.

After a few meetings with possible sponsors, they realize it would be too complicated to take their project on stage. They therefore decide to make a record. First a single, Superstar, then an entire album, released in September 1970.

The score – that will later become a play staged on Broadway and in London, then in 1973 a masterpiece of cinema directed by Norman Jewison – is full of ideas, brainwaves and suggestions, written with the open hearts and beating minds of two English guys in their early twenties. One of them, Lloyd Webber, was born into a family of classical musicians, his father a composer and organist and his brother a cellist; the other one, Rice, was pursuing a career as pop singer. At the time of the Beatles, in England everything seems possible, therefore everything IS possible, to the point that Judas Iscariot can sing the doubts of all of us, accompanied by a choir of soul girls.

The Webber-Rice duo has previous experience in musical theatre; they stood out in a performance for children, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, based on the biblical story of Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons. After the very flourishing success of their singleSuperstarin the US market, they work hard to write an entire opera. Together they imagine the narrative structure and the topics they want to address in their songs. They broadly outline the emotions behind each song, then Lloyd Webber translates such emotions into music and Tim Rice adds the lyrics. They complete the score in just a few weeks and take it to the studio. For the recording session of Jesus Christ Superstar, they are not afraid to go all out. The symphonic orchestra is accompanied by a rock band. The cast of singers is diverse and full of talents, from debutant Yvonne Elliman (Mary Magdalene), discovered by Lloyd Webber in a piano bar, to the very famous Ian Gillan (Jesus)Deep Purple’s lead singer. And if you need strong contemporary colors to make this two-thousand-year-old story appealing, you better rely on very energetic musicians. The bassist, the drummer and the two guitar players are from The Grease Band who accompanied Joe Cocker in his concerts. The four musicians’ long rehearsals, together with the composer, crystalize the score as we know it today; the same score Lloyd Webber wants to be faithfully performed, note by note, today as in the past.

Is there a desire to shock and scandalize in Jesus Christ Superstar? Back in those days, shocking and scandalizing was the norm, and these two verbs were buzzwords in the artistic debate. Surprisingly, the most astonishing part of this rock opera is its momentum towards the myth, its desire to use many colors to depict a fundamental story of our culture and the way we see things.

If, as Joseph Campbell said, “Myth opens the world to the dimension of mystery”, that of Jesus is the myth par excellence. It brings us face-to-face with a number of mysteries, first and foremost the mystery of death. And it puts us in the corner when facing key issues: what to do with our lives? What vocation should we follow? What are we willing to give away to others? A thousand topics enhanced by music which makes them alive and throbbing.

Musical themes continuously chase one another across the tracks of the record. You couldn’t imagine anything more diverse. From songs based on unusual time signatures for rock music (Everything’s Alrightin 5/4, The Templein 7/4), to suggestions coming from authors of the early 20thcentury (in the overture of the album, there is a quite obvious quotation from the ballet The Firebirdby Igor Stravinsky), to flat and simple melodies, so simple and pure that they reject any opposing argument and end up in the songbook of the Italian Church. The Last Supper– a tune sung by the apostles in a quiet tone during the Last Supper – takes new shape in the 80s through a prayer attributed to Saint Francis and becomes “Where there is hatred, let me sow love”; people sang it in choir during mass, accompanied by a guitar. Probably, many priests did not know the profane origin of this melody, or they definitely would have taken action.

What happens to Jesus could happen to anyone: Jesus takes up the world’s burden and is overwhelmed by it. It is easy, from our side, to feel empathy. And it is even easier to feel empathy for Judas, as Lloyd Webber and Rice realize when conceiving the framework of the album. As such, in Jesus Christ Superstarwe see that Judas’ feelings for Jesus change in many different ways: from love to treason, to penance and the consequent self-inflicted punishment. The same musical figure that accompanies him at the beginning of the album will later be the background for his suicide. It is a six-note ostinato that revolves around itself, just like Judas’ mind. Such a masterpiece is made of three Ds, an E-flat and a C that ends up in D, taking you back to the start, to repeat. If you are an apostle, your song will rightly revolve around D (Divinity). Sure! That’s because Lloyd Webber, born in London, naturally uses English names for notes. Yet, for my Italian readers, such D – that is the core of Judas’ song – becomes a “re”, which is a note but also means king (King of the Jews). Now, let’s move on.

In this opera even Pontius Pilate, a character made rather one-dimensional by catechism, appears in his image of mythical figure. He is a man full of doubts, who feels his power is at risk as he is surrounded by the class of the High Priests who want to find an exemplary punishment for that puppet who pretends to be the Messiah. A Messiah who clearly wouldn’t harm a fly and could be set free. Especially after Pilate had a prophetic dream in which he saw that in the future the world would blame him for the death of that innocent. But let’s be clear: in the biblical stories, the wifeof Roman prefect Pontius Pilate is actually the one who had that dream, while he was peacefully sleeping. This is just one example of the authors’ artistic license regarding the story. Other things come from the Apocryphal Gospels, as stated by the authors themselves. However, as we know, the Gospels that tell the life of Jesus present many differences, most of which are remarkable. Jesus’ character changes a lot from Gospel to Gospel. Oftentimes his story is clearly shaped on that of Mitra, his direct inspirer, while other times it differs from it. The reason why Lloyd Webber and Rice are so interested in the story of the Passion of Jesus is its nature as a resounding catalyst of universal and eternal themes, such as love, friendship, destiny, earthly justice and its clear limits, to omit everything following Christ’s death. Wilhelm Reich wrote a book on this to remind us that we continuously kill the Christ inside of us through our actions, and we insist in creating complex sophisms in our mind to justify ourselves. If only we were able to keep a warm heart and an open mind, we could constantly be driven by Love and Ecstasy.

Back in those days there were many controversies. In this rock story, Jesus dies on the cross. End of the album. And what about resurrection? Nobody talks about it. And what about his divine origin that gave him supernatural powers? Nothing, no trace of miracles. Herod is the only one who mentions Jesus’ special abilities rather sarcastically in his song (“Prove to me that you’re no fool / Walk across my swimming pool”, just to mention one). He does so with a musical smirk, immersed in a sound landscape typical of the early 20thcentury in the US, completely detached from the rock opera context in which it is placed. King Herod’s Songis indeed the only song of Jesus Christ Superstarthat existed before the opera was even conceived. It was recorded with different lyrics and title (Try It and See) by – guess who? - Rita Pavone. You see? Webber and Rice’s masterpiece provides so many clues that it is possible to mention Rita Pavone and Jesus in the same paragraph. But let’s go back to the hero of the opera. No miracles, no resurrection and this is what is left: in this story of the Passion, Jesus is a man.

“Heal yourselves”, cries Ian Gillan-Jesus in the record when surrounded by lepers who want to be touched and healed.

“Heal yourselves.”

This sounds like the exasperated cry of a man who feels overwhelmed by the burden he’s carrying. But it is also a clamorous call for each one of us. Dear Human Being, you keep looking around for help. Look inside you instead, you’ll find everything you need to heal yourself. Strike a balance between your body that is experiencing an earthly life and your soul that, free from the issue of space and time, knows and feels it is the Daughter of God, the Creative Force.

If you need help through this journey, don’t panic! English rock is here to give you a boost!

Stefano Bollani's new record
On the 50th anniversary of the original album

On the 50th anniversary of the original album, Stefano Bollani will release his new record “Piano Variations on Jesus Christ Superstar” in spring, his very own version of Andrew LIoyd Webber & Tim Rice’s masterpiece, with the English composer’s approval.

While enshrining the original as a treasure, the album is a brand new, free and entirely instrumental version for piano solo. Following the release of the album, the pianist and composer will tour his new ambitious project both in Italy and abroad.

Napoli, cittadinanza onoraria a Stefano Bollani e concerto di Capodanno
il 30 dicembre conferimento della cittadinanza onoraria
Il 31 dicembre concerro di Capodanno in Piazza Plebiscito
Napoli, cittadinanza onoraria a Stefano Bollani e concerto di Capodanno

Il sindaco di Napoli Luigi de Magistris, alla presenza dell'assessore alla cultura Eleonora De Majo, conferirà la cittadinanza onoraria a Stefano Bollani nel corso di una cerimonia che si svolgerà lunedì 30 dicembre alle ore 11 nella Sala della Giunta di Palazzo San Giacomo.

La laudatio di Stefano Bollani sarà affidata agli interventi di due artisti napoletani Lorenzo Hengeller e Daniele Sepe.

CAPODANNO 2020 - La sera del 31 dicembre, Stefano Bollani salirà sul palco di Piazza Plebiscito alle 22.30 circa per suonare un repertorio di Renato Carosone. A seguire il concerto di Daniele Silvestri. 

in all major digital stores
out on 22nd November 2019

5 historic recordings by pianist-composer STEFANO BOLLANI: out on 22nd November in all major digital stores.

A handful of successful recordings by Stefano Bollani will be available on all major digital platforms for the first time from 22nd November on: “Live Trio Macerata” (2006), a powerful live recording by his historic trio featuring bassist Ares Tavolazzi and drummer Walter Paoli; “Ordine Agitato” (2008), a rich album of Bollani’s and his band ‘i Visionari’, consisting of tunes composed (but not used) for the soundtrack of A. Grimaldi’s film Quiet Chaos; the solo live album “Live From Mars” (2016) with Bollani ingeniously exploring legendary territories from David Bowie, Michael Jackson to James Brown; “The Music Of Sasha Argov” (2009), a unique concert of an outstanding band of his playing revered Israeli composer Sasha Argov’s vivid melodies with compelling energy, recorded at the Royal Opera House of Tel Aviv; and “L’Orchestra del Titanic” (1999), Bollani’s very first album as a leader, remastered on its 20th anniversary and with three inedited bonus tracks!

The digital release of the five albums on Bollani’s label Alobar represent a grand occasion to re-discover some of the jewels of his back catalogue.

con Rupert Sheldrake e Corrado Malanga; modera Stefano Bollani
30 novembre 2019, Firenze

Una giornata dedicata all'esplorazione del rapporto intercorrente tra scienza e spiritualità, a cura di Spazio Interiore. 

from 26 october to 5 november 2019

PIANO A PIANO Stefano Bollani Chucho Valdés on tour!

26/10 Teatro Verdi - FIRENZE
30/10 Teatro Grande - BRESCIA
31/10 Jazznojazz Festival - ZURICH
01/11 Teatro Europauditorium - BOLOGNA
02/11 Veneto Jazz - Teatro Goldoni - VENEZIA
03/1 JAZZMI - Teatro Dal Verme - MILANO
05/11 Auditorium del Lingotto - TORINO

from 12 to 27 july 2019

Stefano Bollani's piano joins the Hamilton De Holanda mandolin and is immediately magic.


20 CD in edicola
con Corriere della sera e La Gazzetta dello Sport

Il 24 giugno 2019 arriva in edicola con il Corriere della Sera e La Gazzetta dello Sport la collana Stefano Bollani e i suoi maestri: 20 cd scelti e introdotti dal grande jazzista.

I primi dieci album fanno parte del repertorio di Bollani: «Questa collana mi ha dato un’enorme possibilità: riscrivere il mio passato. Ho scelto dieci dischi che mi rappresentano».

Le altre dieci uscite sono dischi di musicisti che hanno ispirato la scrittura e l’interpretazione del pianista: «Persone che non ho mai conosciuto ma che mi hanno insegnato tramite la loro musica». Si va da Portrait in Jazz di Bill Evans (in edicola il 2 settembre) a Changes One di Charles Mingus (il 4 novembre), passando per Chet Baker, Miles Davis e Art Blakey.

I cd saranno in vendita a e 9,90 più il prezzo del quotidiano. A inaugurare la serie L’orchestra del Titanic che quest’anno compie 20 anni. Per la collana e per l’anniversario, il primo album da leader di Stefano Bollani è stato rimasterizzato e includerà tre tracce inedite. Poi seguiranno: Rava plays Rava (1° luglio), Småt Småt (8 luglio), Concertone (15 luglio), Piano solo (29 luglio), Carioca (5 agosto), The music of Sasha Argov (live inedito, 12 agosto), Joy in spite of everything (19 agosto), Napoli trip (26 agosto).

world première, 19 june 2019
Teatro Coliseo, Buenos Aires

After Concerto Azzurro [Azure Concerto] for piano and orchestra, dedicated to the throat chakra of expression, Italian pianist-composer Stefano Bollani has now created a new concerto of classical composing: Concerto Verde [Green Concerto] for piano and chamber orchestra; green like the central heart chakra of love.

While Concerto Azzurro was arranged by composer-conductor Paolo Silvestri, with Concerto Verde - and for the first time - it is Bollani himself to have orchestrated the entire work, which also favours moments that disobey the rules that demand that a pianist shall stick to the rigorously precise and immutable score.

Concerto Verde also allows various passages of improvisation, entrusted to a real piano jazz trio with Argentinian bass player Pablo Navarro and young Florentine drummer Bernardo Guerra (who has also been Bollani’s ally in Napoli Trip and Concerto Azzurro).

Concerto Verde, also informed by tango and other folkloric music traditions of Argentina, is structured in four movements of strong impact and distinct character of both melody and rhythm. As tradition wants, the third movement, the “scherzo”, stands out by virtue of its joyous playfulness, which reflects Bollani’s sparkling creativity best.

With Concerto Verde Stefano Bollani has created a hymn to love: to love as such, but also to his love for music.

Stefano Bollani - Concerto Verde for piano and chamber orchestra

Title: “Concerto Verde” for piano and chamber orchestra
Duration: approx. 25-30’
Composer: Stefano Bollani
World premiere: 19 June 2019 at Teatro Coliseo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Orchestra: Orquesta Sin Fin
Juan Pablo Navarro on double bass, and Bernardo Guerra on drums
Conductor:  Exequiel Mantega

from May 10th to June 10th 2019

On the occasion of the vinyl release of the album QUE BOM, Stefano Bollani launches an open contest to all those who in the world play cover of his songs!

How to participate? From the dawn of May 10th at midnight on June 10th, post a video-cover on Instagram (performed by yourself) of a track of the album QUE BOM tagging @stefano_bollani and using the hashtag #quebomcover. Only the QUE BOM's cover will be considered valid!

What features should the cover have? Check out the music sheet (featured on @stefano_bollani) and extemporize! There are no other rules, as it happens in the Stefano Bollani's concerts.

The winners will receive a copy of the vinyl with custom dedication meeting the artist in a stage of the 2019 world tour. 

vinyl edition
from 10 may 2019

On 10 May 2019 Stefano Bollani’s album QUE BOM (published digitally and on CD in 2018) will be internationally released in an exceptionally beautiful-sounding vinyl edition.

The 2-LP 180g vinyl edition comes in an elegant high-quality Gatefold packaging with black polylined innersleeves and contains the lyrics of the songs with Caetano Veloso and João Bosco and extraordinary pictures from Codex Seraphinianus by Italian artist and designer Luigi Serafini.

A genuine hymn to life marked by sparkling liveliness and (contagious) joy, QUE BOM mainly consists of Bollani’s own original tunes informed by Brazilian music culture, which Bollani has cherished since the beginning of his rich multifaceted music making.

The new album by Stefano Bollani
from 25 may 2018

Italian pianist-composer Stefano Bollani's new album QUE BOM - a genuine hymn to life marked by sparkling liveliness and (contagious) joy - mainly consists of Bollani’s own original tunes and distinctive melodies strongly influenced and informed by Brazilian music culture, which Bollani has always cherished since the very beginning of his rich, multifaceted crackerjack music making and dexterous playing.

In QUE BOM Bollani is joined by the same outstanding Brazilian rhythm section as in his earlier, extremely successful CARIOCA project (2008) - Jorge Helder (db), Jurim Moreira (dr) and Armando Marçal (perc) - plus Thiago da Serrinha (perc), but here, in QUE BOM, also by the grand guest stars Caetano Veloso, João Bosco, Jaques Morelenbaum and Hamilton de Holanda.

The CD packaging, an elegant and exquisite 6-side DigiSleeve with an 8-page booklet, contains the lyrics of the songs with Caetano Veloso and João Bosco, photos of the merry Rio recording session by Vinícius Giffoni and extraordinary pictures from Codex Seraphinianus by Italian artist and designer Luigi Serafini.

QUE BOM, entirely produced by Bollani, is the first album to be released worldwide by his own newly created label ALOBAR on 25th May 2018.

Preview the new unreleased track that anticipates the disc QUE BOM
digital from 27 April 2018

Preview one of the pieces that are part of QUE BOM, the new highly anticipated album of unreleased tracks from Brazilian dna that comes after ten years from the great success of the disco Carioca. In the accompanying video, some of the musicians participated in the project including Caetano Veloso and João Bosco, Hamilton de Holanda and Jacques Morelenbaum.

QUE BOM will be released around the world on 25 may 2018.

Entirely self-produced by Stefano Bollani, it is the first album released by its new label ALOBAR and will create an international summer tour.

Galapagos is named after Kurt Vonnegut's novel of 1985 "a masterpiece set in a world of the future in which we remember what mankind was like, those men from the big brains that almost led to ruin the planet".

brazilian sound
out in may 2018

After the great success of the 2007 Carioca album, Stefano Bollani returned to the Brazilian sound with Que Bom, album of outtakes out in may and world tour since summer 2018.

Next to him great representatives of brazilian music like Jorge Helder on bass, Jurim Moreira on drums and Armando Marçal on percussion. Very loved artists from Bollani who had already taken part in the Carioca project and who here are in the company of another percussionist, the young and talented Thiago da Serrinha.

New disc of Stefano Bollani
From 27 October 2017

In bookstores since September 4, 2017, Dialoghi tra alieni is a book published by L'Arte di essere & Trigono Edizioni that collects the conversations of Stefano Bollani with Mauro Biglino, Anne Givaudan and Igor Sibaldi.

A journey through history, religion, philosophy, physics and science, to shed light on the many mysteries that still escape our understanding: from the existence of dimensions and universes parallel to the presence of life on other planets.

The same concept of "Alien" is investigated with a new look and becomes in this book excuse for the most exciting of exploration, that discovering ourselves and our inner universe.

A truly unique book in its kind, which for the first time brings together four leading personalities in their respective areas: composer and pianist Stefano Bollani, philosopher and philologist Igor Sibaldi, the expert of sacred texts Mauro Biglino and french researcher Anne Givaudan.

Dialoghi tra alieni
Conversations about nearby and distant universes
Stefano Bollani meets Mauro Biglino, Anne Givaudan, Igor Sibaldi.
Pages 164
Format: 12 x16
Date of publication: 4 September 2017
Edited by L'Arte di essere & Trigono Edizioni

Stefano Bollani's new album
From 27 October 2017

Stefano Bollani's piano accompanied by the Danish Trio, Vincent Peirani and 14 elements of the Berlin Philharmonic revisit the classic repertoire from Puccini to Monteverdi and Leoncavallo, passing through Rossini and Morricone. An unusual and fascinating tribute to the great Italian musical tradition.

Revisiting in key jazz some masterpieces of the Italian classical repertoire is the idea from which Mediterraneo is born, the new extraordinary album by Stefano Bollani coming out Friday 27 October by ACT.

Mediterraneo is a live, recording of the applauditissimo concert that Stefano Bollani held in the prestigious great hall of Berliner Philamornie on 12 June 2017. To play an unusual high-level music group composed of a jazz matrix represented, as well as from the plan of Bollani and the components of his Danish Trio - Jesper Bodilsen on bass and Morten Lund on drums - from the accordion of Vincent Peirani and fourteen chambers musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra that here do not only follow a cultured sound, but also show refined improvisers. Directed by the Norwegian Geir Lysne, curator of arrangements, which had already collaborated with Bollani in Big Band.

The result is a unique musical occasion, born from an idea of Siggi Loch, patron of the ACT, leader label among the independent of jazz in the world that literally enchanted a packed audience (over 2200 people) and enthusiastic. The new collaboration between Bollani and Peirani, accordionist among the most acclaimed in young french jazz, accentuates the mediterranean touch of the ensemble, especially when it holds the lines of Morricone's known themes.

The great Italian tradition crossed by this long musical journey that transcends gender and age boundaries, shows here all its vitality and modernity and testifies how its pure fullness remains central in feeding different and multiple assets.