• Features

Intervista con Cynthia Lewis, NCPA Magazine, India (2/2018)


  • You started composing music at the age of four. Do you remember what that experience was like? 

In my house, there was an upright piano and I considered it as my favorite toy. I started discovering the sounds and found the way to play some tunes by myself, so my parents supported me. Thanks to my father, an amateur musician, I learned to write music earlier than writing Italian. 

  • What drew you to the piano at such a young age?

I wanted to be a composer, rather than a pianist, and I started playing a piano to compose my own compositions, usually improvising at the piano and then writing them on score. I entered the Conservatory at 10 year-old and gradually the piano become more important for me than composing, also I realized that it was hard to find an original style for my compositions: my teacher noticed that all my compositions were very close to the style of Mozart, Haydn and Clementi, so I felt I was 200 years late! 

  • Which teachers had the biggest impact on you?

Karl Ulrich Schnabel, Fou Ts’Ong, Alexander Lonquich, Charles Rosen. I had the luck to take lessons with great musicians and artists, and to learn from the, that the technique should always be a natural consequence of the musical idea. Today, so many pianists are focused on “how to play” rather than to the core of music: the poetic idea that we want to express, according to the score.  

  • Why would you say it's important for everyone to hear the works of Mendelssohn?

To enjoy his music as it is: without prejudices or comparisons with other composers. In Mendelssohn you can find all the elements of music: dramainspired lyricism, enchanted moments, rhythmical energy, refined polyphony, great orchestral writing. Its music is always perfectly tailored and balanced, yet full of musical tension and innovative ideas.   

  • You've spent years rediscovering and popularising lesser-known works by Italian composers. Which are some of your favourites? 

Among the composers ot the 20th Centuries, I really like Goffredo Petrassi, Luigi Dallapiccola, Silvio Omizzolo, Niccolò Castiglioni, Aldo Clementi, whose works I play often and extensively. Among the composers from 18th Century, I like Rossini (who wrote an incredible number of piano works), Guido Alberto Fano, Roffredo Caetani.  

  • You've always been driven to break new ground in the classical world, especially through your experience as a ghost pianist with the robot TeoTronico. Tell us more about that.

TeoTronico is an android robot, able to play the piano with its 53 fingers. It is also able to speak, and I created an educational concert-show with TeoTronico to explain the sense of musical expression to younger audiences. The robot and me play the same pieces, and we discuss about our different approaches: the robot is literal and only plays what is written in the score, while I give of course, my own interpretation and explain how the music can express moods and reach the heart of people, if we are able to embody the narrative and the emotional meanings that the composer wanted to share with us through the score. 

  • You have such varied roles: pianist, producer, innovator, musicologist, author, radio host. What drives you?

All these roles are a natural consequence of one idea: sharing the beauty of music to improve our lives and live in a more authentic, intense and rewarding way. Nowadays, a performing musician cannot just live in his own studio, but has to share his ideas with his audience, and built a wider audience. I like to use social networks, for example, to share my own thoughts about music and am now posting some videos where I play a certain piece and explain my own point of view to the audience. My work at Italian Radio has the same goal: helping listeners to understand music and enjoy it more deeply. And travelling in several countries, including India, is a privilege for me, to help local audiences to discover great musical masterworks that maybe did not have the chance to know yet. 

  • What can you tell us about your upcoming performance at the NCPA? 

I will give two concerts: on Feb. 24 I will play Mendelssohn Piano Concerto n. 1 with the Symphony of India, and on Feb. 26 I will give a piano recital, including some rare Italian piano works. On Feb. 27  I will give a recital in Pune for the Pune Chamber Music Society. I am grateful to Mr. Suntook Kushroo and to Mr. Jehangir Bathishwala, who made this tour possible.