Interview: Celebrating classical music and beyond with Italian pianist Alessandro Taverna (Khaleej Times Dubai)

The musician will treat classical music lovers to a delightful experience on July 23

Classical music lovers rejoice as Italian pianist and educator Alessandro Taverna is set to take the stage at Dubai Opera on July 23. He will perform as part of VIP Classical concert series, an initiative organised and presented by SAMIT Event Group. 

The evening will open with Frédéric Chopin’s enchanting Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante. 

The recital will then feature Alexey Shor’s Piano Sonata No. 1, a mesmerising three-movement piece blending mellifluous tonality with technical brilliance. 

The programme continues with a piano transcription of Isolde’s final aria Mild und leise from Richard Wagner’s timeless opera Tristan und Isolde, prepared by the legendary Franz Liszt. Liszt’s virtuosic Paraphrase de concert sur Rigoletto, drawing inspiration from Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, will captivate the audience with its dazzling melodies. 

Alessandro will then showcase Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Études-tableaux, presenting No’s 1-6 and No. 9, offering a captivating display of Rachmaninoff’s rich musical tapestry. 

The evening will conclude with the lively and iconic 1924 composition, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, blending classical and jazz influences, a true masterpiece of the Jazz Age. 

In a delightful and insightful conversation with Alessandro, we explore his passion for classical music, his upcoming performance at the Dubai Opera, and his thoughts on the contemporary relevance of classical music. 

How are you feeling about your upcoming performance at the Dubai Opera as part of the VIP Classical initiative? What can the audiences expect from your show?

I am extremely excited about the upcoming performance at the Dubai Opera. The programme brings together top- class musicians, including some Italians I know well. Dubai has become a significant stage for classical music, and being a part of this initiative is a highlight of my season. My performance will take the audience on a musical journey, starting with the European romantic tradition and then moving to the Russian influence through Rachmaninov, and finally, landing in America with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The programme also features Alexi Shore’s Piano Sonata No. 1, a synthesis of various styles, and I have to say that it is very demanding for pianists. You’ve performed across the globe, and classical music is clearly your forte. 

What does classical music mean to you personally?

I have performed in many places in the world at different occasions, and I would say that it is not different. But I feel that I, as a musician, will never get used to performing in front of an audience, no matter the venue. I feel I have a responsibility towards the audience who have paid for the tickets, and I, in turn, have to respect them and try to give them the joy of music. 

Today, music is very important, even more important than before because it allows you to escape from reality. And for me, that is very important. So, it is kind of a mission for me. 

Balancing your roles as a pianist and educator must be challenging. How do you manage to strike a balance between teaching music and performing?

Indeed, it can be challenging to find the right balance between teaching and performing and it is not very easy. Teaching requires a lot of time, but I feel it also benefits me because teaching is an experimental field in which I show my students what I have already tried and rehearsed in my recitals and concerts. With teaching, I could also learn something new every time. Classical music has endured the test of time and continues to captivate audiences globally. 

What are your thoughts on the contemporary relevance of classical music, especially in a world dominated by popular genres? 

I wouldn’t say classical music is not accessible, it is just that it is less known. And we play a huge part in this. As musicians, we have a crucial role as ambassadors, carrying forward the message of peace through our performances. Music is a universal language, and classical compositions carry profound emotional depth that resonates with listeners across cultures. 

Your advice to young pianists aspiring to follow in your footsteps?

Patience is key. Pursuing a career in music requires dedication, compromise, and significant sacrifices. Investing ample time in training and practice is essential. While it may be demanding, the journey is filled with beautiful encounters, incredible experiences, and personal growth. Precision and discipline are vital, and maintaining patience through the process will lead to a fulfilling and rewarding musical journey. 

We’re looking forward to your upcoming recordings. Can you tell us more about your recent recording at the Chamber Music Project? 

Certainly! I recently recorded with my talented colleagues on violin and horn. The recording, set to be released in late spring 2024, features a repertoire for violin, horn, and piano.

Husain Rizvi


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