Visiting professor Giovanni Verrando: Don't be scared to find your own path

Italian composer Giovanni Verrando was appointed visiting professor to the Sibelius Academy starting in August. During this Autumn, he has paid two visits to Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy teaching the music theory and composition students and also giving a public lecture to the audience.

- I have found this a very nice environment – the level of the students is high and it has been a pleasure to work with them, Verrando says in the middle of his busy visit teaching week in Helsinki in December.

Verrando’s main focus as a composer has for years been the new lutherie. This means music composed for and played by newly invented instruments.

- I started by composing for traditional instruments. But in 2005-2006 I found the new lutherie – and after this discovery, I have actually spoken about ”my second life” as a composer, Verrando smiles.

In composition, using new or prepared instruments is not a new idea; it has been used in the last decades around the world. For Verrando, using the new lutherie derives from his own perspective on music.

- It comes from my personal view on music. As a composer, I needed something new; tools to produce sounds, musical forms and shapes that were almost impossible to produce with ordinary instruments.

As a composer using the new lutherie approach, Verrando works in close connection to the instruments; he has to be able to teach the musicians how to play them as well.

This has affected me and my connection to the string instruments. Many years ago, I also bought myself a violin, a viola and a cello in order to better understand how they work.

As a teacher it is important for Verrando to show the students that in today’s world they are free to express their identities as composers – to teach them that they should not be afraid to explore and find their own path.

- I’d like to help them to reach their own goals and to understand that each of us as composers have different goals. This is something that  working with new instruments has taught me. I moved to new instruments because I needed to show my real identity and display what I wanted to express to the musical world.

He advices the students to research estethics, instruments and techniques widely in order to find out where – as musicians and composers - they feel comfortable with themselves.

- Contemporary music allows us to find our personal expression. It is not always an easy path, because we do have a lot of limitations around us, but it is a path worth taking. You don’t have to be scared!