International pianist to tune up UVM

One European music star is embarking on his first tour of the U.S. – first stop, Vermont.

Italian singer and songwriter Raphael Gualazzi will be playing a free show at Southwick Music Recital Hall, 7 p.m. April 16. The concert is being put on by UVM Program Board.

“In the concert committee, we’re always looking for new events,” senior Jordan Ganz said. Ganz is a member of the UPB Concerts Bureau. “We’re trying to get away from what we’ve already done,” he said.

Steve Ferraris, UVM affiliate artist and musical partner of Gualazzi, said Gualazzi has a very wide appeal, but still offers diverse sounds. “The thing about Raphael is that he is a very talented piano player, he’s classically trained,” Ferraris said. “He is a very good vocalist; he sings in English, he sings in Italian, and he’s a very talented song writer. He’s a triple threat.” 

Ferraris said that Gualazzi’s music appeals to college-aged audiences because it is original but also draws on a wide array of musical styles. “His music is very sophisticated,” he said. “It’s popular music but the level of sophistication and musicianship is very high.”

Gualazzi said he first fell in love with the piano as an instrument when he was 9 years old, and began studying at a conservatory soon after. He studied classical music for eight years. He said he later discovered jazz and blues and struggled to learn and incorporate the new sounds into his own music.

“My goal was to bring all the skills that I was learning at the conservatory into this beautiful blues vibe,” Gualazzi said. “[This was difficult because] we had to learn [jazz] by ear or taking private lessons,” he said. Gualazzi said he prefers to try out different genres of music rather than staying with what is familiar.

“There are some artists, they find a certain kind of coat, and once they understand that this coat works they will repeat it over and over,” he said. Gualazzi said what he loves most about jazz as a genre is the freedom and wisdom that accompany it. “[In jazz] you can get your freedom but you also have to be responsible for your actions,” he said.