Welcome to a truly insightful conversation with Maria Rago, a remarkable composer whose music resonates with the language of emotions and breathes life into silent stories. Each creation is a journey shaped by an undefinable process of creativity and destiny.
In this interview, Maria shares her admiration for musicians who have shaped her work, her experiences of trials and triumphs, and the importance of always listening, being curious, and being honest. She offers us a glimpse into her recent piece, ‘Lady M Day of Hundred Candles’, a tribute to influential women in classical music, and her upcoming projects, including an opera, a soundtrack, and global concerts.
Join us as we delve deeper into Maria’s captivating music world that knows no boundaries.
What first got you into music?
Music is in life even before life reveals itself as such. We are made of vibrations, music that takes shape
when we are born. I don’t think there was a rational moment when music became part of my
being. I think it chose me, leaving me no way out. It was, as in love, a love without knowing why but
discovering it little by little and understanding that even if we are different, we belong to each other. We
don’t always walk or look for the same paths – rhythms, tones, pauses, or movements to create – very
often, we collide, but in the end, we can’t do without all this because it is precisely this moment in which
the material of art becomes a reality.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
A music of wandering stories and unknown people to whom I try to give an identity, a voice. Musical
notes are the words of creatures who live in silence, who move between shadows and lights, and who,
at the first opportunity, try to catapult themselves onto the pentagram sheet, between lines and spaces
and take possession of it, becoming the protagonists.
What is your creative process like?
It’s always challenging to explain the creative process because it comes from something you can’t define,
trace or, at least at the beginning, you don’t do it rationally. You have an idea, a voice, a sound that
follows you and chases you, you smear the white sheet, you give a shape to those black corpuscles,
sometimes you delete them, you get confused about them, you lose them, and you find them again in new
guises, and it is in that moment that you rationally organize them, make them breathe, and make them
move, and finally detach yourself from them – and it’s not always easy – to make them go to their destiny.
Can you tell us a bit more about Lady M Day of Hundred Candles and what
inspired you to make it?
Lady M Day of Hundred Candles is a piece of music for the soprano and orchestra dedicated to Mary B.
Galvin a renowned arts icon, philanthropist, and leader in the classical world. A woman who, with her
work, has impacted the world of classical music and beyond. But it is also dedicated to all those women
who, like Mary B. Galvin, were visionaries, who anticipated their times, believed in an idea, and traced
the way forward for future generations. The voice is entrusted to the superb and talented soprano, Laura
Which famous musicians do you admire?
It is difficult to answer among composers because many of them have shaped and influenced my way of
writing music and are still guides. Of all, I would say J.S. Bach. It is like a giant of universal breadth that extends vertically from the earth to
the sky, passing from the finite to the infinite. Among the musicians, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli,
Radu Lupu, Oscar Peterson, Mitsuko Uchida, but I also wink at Metallica and Frank Zappa.
What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
One way or another, I’m always in trouble. I think it’s part of artistic nature to be in trouble; it becomes a
stimulus, a way to test yourself, seek, find, tell, transform, and, honestly, when you immerse yourself
in this process, you are inevitably in trouble. But I remember as a child, about six years old, there was a
time when I was in trouble. To defend a friend, I pushed the boy who was bullying him, and he
broke his arm in the fall. On the other hand, my friend didn’t defend me. Indeed, he accused me. I
remember crying a lot, being punished, and learning that the path of dialogue, mediation, and listening is always the best response to violence, and what matters, in the end, is being honest
with yourself first.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Life is a wonderful journey with a big, mysterious mistake, different for each of us, and music is the
solution and the answer to that mistake. A means of communication capable of transforming and, in
some cases saving. The best advice I was given was and still is: Listen. Be curious. Be honest. Never take
yourself seriously. Change; we are creatures in motion, works in progress. Believing in an idea, in a
dream, falling, and getting up again, there’s something to learn in every situation. Believing that
each of us can leave a trace, whatever it is!
What’s next for you?
Writing an opera on the life and faith revolution of Paul of Tarsus.The soundtrack for the short – Ettore
Maiorana, for love, for a dream, for madness – on the mysterious disappearance of the Italian
scientist. Concerts for electric guitar and orchestra premiered in New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City and
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