Valentina Ciardelli: Bassist Extraordinaire
By Ravi V. Chhabra/fnbworld
Valentina is among the rare breed of bassists who is adept at both the double bass as well as electric one, though her penchant is double bass. The BBC Music Magazine has rated her as 'Rising Star 2020' and she is also the Global Music Award Silver Medal winner for 2020. She was born in Pietrasanta (Lucca - Italy), to a German mother and Italian father. Starting off as a pianist, she began to play double bass in late 2009, graduating with Honours from the “Istituto Musicale L. Boccherini” in Lucca in October 2014. She then got her Master of Performance (Honours) at the Royal College of Music in July 2016 and continued studies under the guidance of Leon Bosch an Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where she was the recipient scholarships from Trinity Collegee London and the Leverhulme Trust. In 2018/19, she was awarded Trinity Laban’s Carne Trust Junior Fellowship for an Individual.
Valentina also won a place with a scholarship in the Accademia Chigiana for summer 2018 with Maestro Giuseppe Ettorre. She was finalist in important national and international competitions such as the “Migliori Diplomati D’Italia” (best young Italian music graduate) 2015 and “Double bass international competition Galicia Garcia Graves. She was selected with other 16 young double bass players around the world to perform in the live final rounds at the worldwide double bass solo competition granted by “Bradetich Foundation” in Denton, Texas, at the end of august 2017.
She has given solo performance with “I solisti veneti” with Maestro Claudio Scimone and she won the prestigious scholarship granted by this Academy (Proliber). She has performed as a soloist in the prestigious London concert halls Wigmore Hall and St. Martin in the Field and has been invited to the pre- opening of the Zappanale 2018 in St.Katharinen Kirche (Hamburg) with her Trio featuring the Worldwide saxophone virtuoso Napoleon Murphy Brock.
Now residing in London she is teacher assistant in Leon’s Bosch class at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and young artist of Talent Unlimited. She won a scholarship from associazione Animando in Lucca for a research project investigating the music of Giacomo Puccini’s ancestors and her work has been published for the Japanese Press Da Vinci. Valentina's work is focused to expand the double bass solo repertoire composing new virtuoso pieces.
fnbworld.com interviewed her recently. Excerpts:
Ravi V. Chhabra: You got into transcribing Frank Zappa's music rather early in pre-teenage. How did it happen, I mean what aspect of Zappa appealed to you as a child?
Valentina: I was actually eleven, my first record was the Grand Wazoo, I never stopped loving it, I never stopped liking it. I spent most of my time in adolescence transcribing Franks' music, all instruments, just to catch and analize ( I was more or less still a kid so in a really naive way!) why I loved his music so much. I think because of my sinestesia Frank's music is unbelievably colorful and intense, as a kid I think this was the most fascinating thing I ever visualized while listening to some musical performance/recording. How I wish I had listened to Frank Zappa in a live concert...
RVC: From love for piano to bass...inspiration?
Valentina: I think playing the piano was a good thing for me, especially for composing, I still play it and try my arrangements or composition on it. My mother introduced me to this instrument (she plays piano and organ) but I really never loved it in a 'physical' way; I mean I never got the thrill of playing and I discovered this thrill and pleasure through the double bass. Performing is a matter of physical sensations and also connection with the instrument you play and I think I never reached this deepness with the piano. Musical instruments are like dresses, it doesn't matter how beautiful they can be, if they do not fit you, you can't do anything about that and you better find another one that's perfect for you and Bass is definitely gives me the sensation of complete matching with my personality and physical sensations on the instrument.
RVC: Favourite piano and pianists, tunes? Reasons.
Wow, it's a huge question, I could name hundreds of them in any genre! I love Chick Corea, Elian Elias, George Duke, Oscar Peterson, Bull Evans, Thelonius Monk, Nina Simone, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Hiromi Uehara...I love a lot of their recording and I get a lot of the sound inspiration from the clarity and the perfection of piano sound. From there I try to construct the sound of the bass and I re-orchestrate, exactly how it happens on the piano, the harmony and the melody distribution on my instrument.
RVC: Jazz and rock bassists that influenced you from early on?
Valentina: Charles Mingus, Eddie Gomez (he's just incredible), Scott Lafaro, Jaco Pastorius, Christian McBride, Niel Pedersen.
RVC: Do you play other musical instruments besides double bass?
Valentina: Electric bass but not as a super pro.
RVC: Your favourite jazz, rock, experimental and avant-garde bands and musicians?
Valentina: Mothers of Invention, King Crimson, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Area, PFM, Camel, Steps Ahead, Brecker Brothers among many other giants.
RVC: Where all have you performed till now?
Valentina: I am travelling quite a lot, I have performed mostly in Europe for now and occasionally in Asia and USA.
RVC: How much rehearsal do you do in a normal day and preparation time before
Valentina: I do practice on the instrument around 2-3 hours a day (I wish I could do more) plus I write and work many hours on my compositions, transcriptions and arrangements. I do rehearsal usually 2-3 days before the concert if it's repertoire I know, if not I prepare it in advance with some additional rehearsal to know and get confident with the new repertoire.
RVC: Have you performed with any of Zappa musicians like Adrian Belew, Arthur Barrow,
Ponty etc? Reasons if not...
Valentina:I have performed with Napoleon Murphy Brock and Robet Martin.
RVC: Performances and future recordings the audience can look forward to?
Valentina:I am preparing a very special record for 30th anniversary of Frank's death...no spoilers but you will be surprised about it! Another big project that's going on is called "How I met Puccini and it all about the opera and the music of Puccini re-transcribed and worked for instrumental, actors and dancers ensemble". It quite huge so I would recommend to go and have a browse on the website www.howimetpuccini.com
RVC: Do you take up transcription assignments professionally?
Valentina: yes I do
RVC: What music do you listen to for relaxing or energizing?
Valentina: That's an easy question. It's Frank Zappa!