21 July 2013

Antonio de Innocentis

Antonio was born in Naples in 1961. In 1985 he was awarded ‘Summa cum Laude’ at the D. Cimarosa Conservatory in Avellino, Italy. From 1983 to 1990 he attended Master Classes by Eliot Fisk in Florence, at the Vienna Conservatory and at the Salzburg Mozarteum. He gave his first concert in 1980 and apart from playing all over Europe, since 2000 he has been regularly holding tours in the USA. He has won first prize in several guitar competitions including Pesaro (2nd National Contest, 1981), Bardolino (4th International Contest, 1981) and Genoa (4th National Contest ‘P. Taraffo’, 1984). He was the first guitarist in the world to have performed the entire ‘24 Caprices’ by N. Paganini in one single concert (Avellino, Italy, 1992).

Mr. De Innocentis has premiered and published several works composed especially for him. Important composers who have dedicated their works to him include John W. Duarte, Larry Cooperman, John Bent, Pasquale Bifulco. John Oster from the USA, Jonatas Batista-Neto from Brazil, Luigi Arbolino, Marcello Parisi and Giovanni Zaccari from Italy, Peter Stewart from Scotland and Neil Smith from England. In addition to performing actively, he gives Master Classes in Italy (Caserta, Acerra, Florence and Giugliano), England (Frensham Heights), Scotland (Oatridge Festival, Aberdeen and Glasgow), Norway (Bergen), USA (California, Maine) and teaches regularly at the “A. Ruggiero” School in Caserta, Italy. He has also been juryman in International Guitar Contests. His performances are broadcasted by several TVs and Radio Stations in  the USA and Europe.

He recorded six CDs for Fiammant Records: “Guitar Recital” (1997); “Premiere!” (2004);  “Live at Kellie Castle” (2005), “Return to Glenmore” (2005), “The 24 Caprices op. 1 by N. Paganini” (2010), and “Vive la France!” (2011), in collaboration with GiZa Records. This recording, carried out together with Italian composer and guitarist Giovanni Zaccari, features transcriptions for two guitars of French music from late 19th and early 20th century.
Besides, he has published some of his transcriptions and revisions in Italy and the USA (California, Florida). His arrangements of Scottish traditional music have been published in March 2008 by Lathkill Publications, England, and reviewed on Classical Guitar Magazine in the October of the same year. In September 1998 and October 2000 Classical Guitar Magazine’s music supplement was dedicated to his transcriptions and, in March 2003, he was also interviewed by the prestigious magazine.
In October 1999 he took part in John Duarte’s  80th birthday concert in London and, in 2005 in the first memorial concert to celebrate him after his death. In June 2009, invited by Christopher Duarte, he performed in Norwich two guitar concertos – “A Tudor Fancy” by J. Duarte and “Fantasia para un Gentilhombre” by J. Rodrigo – with the Academy of St. Thomas Orchestra conducted by Roger Coull, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of John Duarte’s birth.

Among the most important events of his career: the  composition of the Twelve Studies op. 140 by Maestro John Duarte; the participation in the Oatridge International Guitar Festival (Scotland, 2001, 2002, 2003); the Guitar Foundation of America International Convention 2001 (La Jolla, California. USA) where, after his concert, the American luthier John Dick presented him with his best guitar, just exposed at the Convention’s Vendor Fair; the International Guitar Festival of Great Britain, Wirral (Liverpool, 2001); the Scottish Premiere of Claude Bolling’s Picnic Suite (2003); the invitation to play in Wales with the NYGE Orchestra under the conduction of Gerald Garcia and the concert for the EGTA Annual Conference at Cambridge (2004); the invitation, as Artist in Residence at the L.A.H.S., Turner (Maine, USA, 2004); the foundation of the “John Duarte Guitar Quintet”, the name approved by Mrs Dorothy Duarte (December 2004). In Summer 2005, has been invited, as the only guitarist, to give four concerts at the “Arcady Summer Festival”, in Maine, U.S.A.. In the Spring of 2007 in Norway, he closed the “Gitarekspressen Festival 2007”, with a concert and a master class given in Bergen at the local “Grieg Academy” and in July 2007 he was awarded for his international career in Castel Morrone (Italy). In 2007 he also gave his debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (August) and at the 9th Gliwice International Guitar Festival, Poland (November).

Apart from founding and playing in the “John Duarte Guitar Quintet”, he has also regularly performed with the prestigious Edith Ferguson’s Ensemble in Glasgow, at Kellie Castle for the National Trust for Scotland,  and at Pittenweem Arts Festival. Lately, he is also giving recitals in duo for voice and guitar with his daughter Fiammetta (soprano).

In the Summer 2009 he also wrote the original soundtrack for the theatrical play “Giuseppina – Una donna del Sud” by Italian actor Pierluigi Tortora, premiered, together with Tortora,  in September 2009 at Casertavecchia International Art Festival “Settembre al Borgo” and still having repeat performances in Italy.

Antonio De Innocentis will be soon preparing some more recordings with Fiammant Records: a collection of harpsichord baroque music by Scarlatti, Cimarosa and Paradisi; the world premiere recording of various works written for him and a recital for voice and guitar together with his daughter Fiammetta, featuring, among other things, several Gershwin’s hits.

 “Antonio De Innocentis is in all respects a remarkable artist, one who must be included in the upper echelon of today’s guitarists…” John Duarte

“He is a truly great virtuoso of the guitar… I find his interpretations stimulating and original…far more so than those of any better known players…and his level of virtuosity is really astounding.” Eliot Fisk

“Antonio De Innocentis is a player whose dark-toned virtuosity ranks him highly amongst the new breed of players establishing identities around the world. His strong technique and unpretentious musicianship were perfect tools to deal with the Prelude, Canto and Toccata op. 38 by John Duarte…De Innocentis executed extremely difficult triplet passages with impressive strength and was the picture of professional composure.”
Tim Panting, Classical Guitar Magazine, UK

“…A true musician, a player able to join refined and virtuosic technique, serious and reflexive work and a real artist’ sensibility…a great professional, a masterly expert of styles and of the instrument’s possibilities; a guitarist who, no doubt, will be master and model for future generations.” 
Avelina Vidal Seara, Royal Higher Conservatory of Madrid

 “…This guitarist is world class, of that there can be no doubt…”
Chris Dell, Classical Guitar Magazine, UK

“…In my experience only David Russell plays Scarlatti with the same combination of technical assurance, musical and stylistic correctness, and true harpsichord-like playing. De Innocentis’s two-strings trills are blazing and crystal-clear. His control of staccato and the stopping of the notes at their exactly correct points is the mark of a finely honed technique and a very meticulous musical mind… Not since I heard Julian Bream at UCLA for the very first time in 1969 have I been SO overwhelmed by a new player…This player must become better known – and fast!…”
John Bent, New Millennium Guitar Magazine, USA

“…A finger-crunching virtuoso…, De Innocentis injected flair and dynamism into the usually sedate business of Scarlatti on the guitar.”
Paul Fowles, Classical Guitar Magazine, UK

“…His performance at Kellie Castle surpassed all expectations… Antonio gave a fascinating interpretation of Bach’s Chaconne…The capacity audience at Kellie Castle was ecstatic in its applause for this virtuoso performance…”
Ursula Ditchburn, “St Andrews Citizen”, Scotland

“…De Innocentis opened with three Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti that did not seem possible for mere mortals to play on the guitar… This Neapolitan’s playing… was fast, loud, and exciting, replete with breathtaking position changes and stretches. His speed and power were remarkable…”
Joseph Mayes, GFA Soundboard, USA

“Antonio De Innocentis is a guitar player of formidable technique…”
Mark Switzer, GFA Soundboard, USA

“...The technical skill, the creation of different shades and moods of tonality put into Paganini's 'Three Caprices' was remarkable... P. Stewart's 'Povero Pietro' composed for Antonio and J.S.Bach's Sarabande showed the artist's great feeling for musical structure. Whether playing Scarlatti or Scott Joplin, Antonio manages to enter the very essence of a composition and interprets each piece with great enthusiasm and musicianship. It was a privilege to have one of the great guitarists of our time in Pittenweem.”.
Ursula Ditchburn, “St Andrews Citizen”, Scotland

“…Antonio is a unique musician who balances phenomenal techniques with an acute and sensitive musicality to produce music appealing to all listeners.”

Peter Stock, “Inverurie Herald”, Scotland

A stunning concert from Antonio: …he rendered a near perfect interpretation of Bach’s Suite BWV 1012. The listener experienced the remarkable complexity of sound, structure, harmony and counterpoint. The result was stunning. Equally fascinating was Antonio’s insight into traditional Scottish Airs. His arrangements for guitar reflected the very essence of Scottish songs… The concert ended with Duarte’s ‘Americana’ and Paganini’s ‘3 Caprices’, both compositions played with the technical skill and virtuosity rarely found in guitar playing these days.”
Ursula Ditchburn, “St Andrews Citizen” and “Dundee Courier”, Scotland

“Antonio gave an incredible performance of a very elaborate program… his playing was brilliant, with gigantic stretches and rapid harmonies… At the end of the concert I was convinced that I witnessed one of the world’s greatest guitarists in action… He dazzled the audience by his colourful playing, rhythm, perfect intonation, speed, and splendid interpretive ability… I recommend anyone who has the opportunity to hear Antonio performing live not to think twice about it, go and hear this fantastic artist, it will be a life changing experience.”
Pasquale Bifulco, Leavitt Area High School, Turner, Maine, USA

“… The Paganini, of course, was thrilling. The powerful and sustained production of notes at the fingerboard in Caprice # 5 literally caused jaws to drop. It’s not over the top to say that Antonio’s playing hits one with the force of revelation. It is as though the guitar had yet been reserving some untapped potential in anticipation of the master who could unlock it. Antonio’s musicianship is enchanting, utterly wonderous. The sword has been pulled from the stone.”
Bill Heckman, Dover-Foxcroft Chamber Music Society, Milo, Maine, USA

"Antonio is unbelievable, a unique artist who combines incredible passion, unrivalled technique, deep musicality and a powerful native intelligence.  The result is performances that are not merely definitive, but revelatory." 
John Jenab, President of the Kansas City Guitar Society, Missouri, USA

“There is always high quality music at the conference and on this occasion a recital was given by the Italian Antonio De Innocentis, who had come from performing with the EGTA sponsored National Youth Guitar Ensemble (NYGE) in Wales. De Innocentis has enormous powers of technical control and amazing fluency: he was the first guitarist to give a complete performance in one concert of all 24 of the Paganini Caprices, before Fisk’s endeavour. It was probably in the concluding Paganini set that De Innocentis reached the closest marriage of artistry and astonishment, and there were notable contributions also from Scarlatti and Tedesco.”
Stephen Kenyon, Classical Guitar Magazine, UK

“Played well, solo classical guitar has the depth and complexity of a small orchestra, as was demonstrated in this free concert by Italian virtuoso, Antonio De Innocentis.
His command of the repertoire, from the Renaissance up until the present, was dazzling; the contrast of styles and techniques included the impressive perpetual motion of Domenico Scarlatti's 'Allegro Sonatas', and the technical - and emotional - surprises of twentieth century masters, including Agustin Barrios Mangoré and Jorge Morel.
Then, to underline the guitar's versatility, his encore was in the style of the Scottish traditional harp.
De Innocentis performed this challenging programme with an infectious love of his instrument, and whetted the audience's appetite for the artists following him in this varied series of concerts.”
Louise Rodgers, Edinburgh Festival, Scotland

“In order to ‘translate’ these traditional melodies onto the guitar, De Innocentis has used a variety of guitar techniques to represent the varying moods of each piece, hence we hav almost the whole range of ‘special effects’ the guitar  can produce in its imitation of drums, clarsach, pipes, vocal lines etc. He has also added his own, often virtuosic, always tasteful, variations to some of these melodies… De Innocentis is a guitarist and arranger not only of consummate skill but he is also an interpreter of great understanding for the music he his performing. This is altogether a first class new release and one which I wholeheartedly recommend.
Steve Marsh, Classical Guitar Magazine, UK

“Antonio De Innocentis, a great supporter of John Duarte’s music, offered an assured and expressive interpretation. He is a scrupulous player who produces a wealth of warm sonorities but at the same time articulates every fine detail of dynamics, phrasing and colour.
Graham Wade, Classical Guitar Magazine, UK

“…Tortora is accompanied on the classical guitar by Antonio De Innocentis, a musician with an amazing interpretation of the text. His guitar creates a background sometimes light, sometimes more intensely lyrical, but never overdoing the harmonic embellishments or the tempos, and with the music composed on purpose by him for the play, it seems almost to go back through some moments of the soundtrack from “Il Postino” (The Postman)…”
Salvatore Viggiano, Caserta Musica & Arte, Italy

“…Parallel thirds, octaves, and even tenths, pizzicato, and blazing scale passages: this one (Paganini’s Caprice n. 24) has it all, and Signore de Innocentis simply plays it all to perfection…
Antonio de Innocentis is a guitarist with power, depth, a musical perceptiveness that few guitarists possess, and a fanatic's love of purpose.”
John Bent, New Millennium Guitar Magazine, USA