An Interpreter's Tribute To A COVID-Stricken Europe
Francis Poulenc composer
Curt Cacioppo composer
Maurice Ravel composer
Bruce Leto, Jr. piano
Navona Records artist Bruce Leto’s newest album of solo piano works synthesizes the tribulations and perseverance of the human spirit in the age of COVID-19, while also taking a look at some of the more bewildering aspects of the global response. GOMITOLO!— named after the Italian expression that loosely translates to “the incomprehensibility of human life"—is a fitting tribute to the European countries heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, featuring solo piano performances of works by Poulenc, Ravel, and fellow PARMA artist Curt Cacioppo.
Despite the current status of the music industry in the year of COVID-19, Leto has stayed exceptionally busy and has achieved recognition worldwide. He was the sole recipient of the Performance Scholarship to the Cohen School of Music based on range of ability, technique, knowledge, and experience, and won the Bronze Prize (soloist); Silver Prize (ensemble) for the Progressive Musicians International Competition (Amateur Division, Piano). In addition, Leto won First Prize in the Quebec International Music Competition (Piano) and the Silver Prize for Virtuoso Artists '20 in the Seattle International Piano Competition. Additionally, Bruce was awarded Honorable Mention at the V ODIN International Competition (EAAA Affiliated) for aspiring professional musicians. He is also the recipient of recognition via "Encouragement Award"/Honorable Mention in the Artistic Division of the WPTA Finland International Piano Competition 2020.
A highly-lauded pianist since childhood, Leto’s sensitive and refined style gives new life to classical and impressionistic works alike. His works are all deeply embedded with philanthropic elements, and this new album was born out of a pressing need in Leto’s music community. Faced with possible faculty layoffs at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia in April 2020, Leto participated in a virtual gala to benefit the school. The inspiration for GOMITOLO! arose from this experience. Here, he interprets the works of European and American masters—with each work speaking in some way to the crisis and the resulting global response.
Leto describes composer Francis Poulenc’s music, for example, as “as serious, capricious, and bewildering as the global response to COVID-19.” Likewise, Leto finds meaning in the more whimsical pieces by Ravel and Cacioppo, a badly-needed dose of levity during unprecedented times. Adding to the musical experience, Leto has also collaborated with integrative interpreter Lauren Angelini to create thought-provoking multimedia integrations for the audio works on the album.
As is often the case in times of profound crisis, artists have begun responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting social isolation with powerful resilience. Leto’s GOMITOLO! comes at the forefront of what is certain to be an artistic movement in its own right. Surely, even after life on planet Earth has begun to resume a sense of normalcy, this album will continue to be treasured not only for its historical significance but for its immersive beauty.
Bruce, who is now working as the Director of Project Management at Design With Artisan, a web design startup he co-founded in 2018 was particularly inspired by one of his clients - Carlos Colon, who indirectly helped make this album release happen. Carlos is the founder of ThankX - a Peer to Peer delivery courier service (assisted by Bruce's help) in March 2020, called "ThankX"! This express delivery method is a way for Philadelphia residents to send goods/parcels to each other in a safe, customized, and efficient manner. ThankX delivers comply with COVID-19 safety regulations AND foster a sense of community (via charitable, personalized drivers and grateful recipients). As Carlos puts it: "each delivery has a story - from sender to recipient!" Visit www.gothankx.com for more details.
Lastly, Bruce's diverse taste in music led him to partner with Adrian Howard of Astronaut Boyz Inc (ABI), another Design With Artisan client. Founded by Adrian Howard back in 2015, ABI records and features hip-hop, R&B, and pop artists out of Aurora, CO. Partnering with BWillz - one of Denver's local, most accredited artists (which can be streamed on every music platform) ABI has three salient, impactful messages: partnering with local artists, messaging that authentic Hip-Hop is still very much alive, and promoting the signing of disadvantaged artists in underserved communities. Oftentimes, ABI donates the proceeds of record and merchandise sales back to local charities. In the efforts of assisting local communities, ABI also organizes school supply drives, kickball games via Kicks for Kids in Colorado, and facilitates food drives around the time of the holidays. In summary, ABI develops raw, talented artists and helps foster personal and spiritual growth in every way possible for these musicians (as well as giving back to the Colorado community). Follow Astronaut Boyz at: www.astronautboyz.com - another community-based, mission-related affiliate of Bruce Leto, Jr!"