“Gomitolo” — an Italian expression that loosely translates into the incomprehensibility of human life.


As a pianist and lifelong music student, I wholeheartedly believe that it is important to derive meanings in the pieces that we undertake from various aspects of life (both internally and externally). Life lessons, emotions, social circumstances, and current events all shape who we are as people—and as artists. GOMITOLO! was taken on as a project following a virtual gala benefiting Settlement Music School in Philadelphia during April 2020, surrounding which Bruce Leto, Sr. set up an “Emergency Relief” fund for Settlement Music School to retain its talented faculty members after the ensuing financial crisis.


In the context of COVID-19 (and specifically considering its deleterious impact on Europe), one particular composer comes to mind: Francis Poulenc—a dedicated scholar, musician, and enthusiast of all things European. Poulenc spent much of his adult life sojourning Europe and touring with soprano Denise Duval and baritone Pierre Bernac. Combining his mentorship from Erik Satie, sensibilities of Mozart and Stravinsky (per Sante Fe Chamber), and the geographical influences of Southern Italy (Naples and Sicily), it is no wonder that Poulenc’s indelible European influences are widely recognized amongst musicologists and stylistic interpreters. Indirectly, Poulenc’s music speaks to the COVID-19 pandemic via themes ("melancholie"), titles (“Sicilienne”), and introspect (“Novelette”). From Schubert-inspired waltzes to Parisian, whimsical impromptus, Poulenc’s music is as serious, capricious, and bewildering as the global response to COVID-19.


Additionally, music by Maurice Ravel and Curtis Cacioppo was included in this album to demonstrate the contrasting interpretations/compositional variations of the “waltz”—a gesture that provides levity during tumultuous times. The waltz idiom appears in the middle section of Ecco Venere; an impactful work composed with doves (symbolic), Venus, and Sicily in mind.


Impressionistic artwork (from Gauguin to Monet) can be viewed in engaging and thought-provoking multimedia integrations of the audio works on this album (courtesy of Lauren Angelini) at The video integrations are meant to provide viewers with a glimpse into the uncertainty, destruction, and glimmers of hope that impressionistic/contemporary music can provide—an all-encompassing visual and auditory tribute to Europe during COVID-19.



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