Composer and longtime friend of PARMA, John A. Carollo, is releasing his newest album THE TRANSFIGURATION OF GIOVANNI BAUDINO on Navona Records today, which is not only PARMA’s 500th release but also PARMA’s first vinyl release (release 9/15). We checked in with Carollo and asked him a few questions for this special edition of The Inside Story, a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists.
Who was your first favorite artist(s) growing up?
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. I loved how they weaved humor into music. They were entertaining, inventive, bizarre, prolific, witty and often uncouth! One of my regrets is not seeing them live and just as Frank was focusing more of his energies into modern contemporary (classical) music, he died. A real loss for the musical world. His Yellow Sharks release I treasure.
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist/composer/creator?
My composition teacher, Robert Wehrman, told me that I was an artist in about my third or fourth year of composition lessons. Did not realize it at the time. It was a total surprise! It took me awhile to tell people that I was a composer. After compositions lessons ended, I felt more comfortable with the title!
I had studied piano for many years prior to composition lessons and after learning and playing a Scarlatti sonata, I told one of my teachers that I could compose something similar. (I adore his 555 brilliant harpsichord miniatures. They sparkle, entertain and the inventiveness never stops!) This is what sparked my career as a composer. I went on to compose over 100 piano pieces in solitude before beginning composition lessons.
What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?
During my first piano recital, I was so nervous that I stopped midway! Thankfully, I regained my composure seconds later and left off where I started, thus completing the work.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I drink too much coffee; I find it to be a wonderful stimulant and can focus more intensely on the project at hand.
If you could do any job in the world and make a living at it, what would that be?
Being a professional photographer should have been my calling. Collecting images is a hobby of mine and I take photos throughout the day. Saving them in an archive on the computer is almost an obsession! Working for a magazine like Nature or National Geographic would have been my dream come true. Nature is the best artist, and photographers, who can be capturing its artistic moments has my total admiration.
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be? And why?
Right here on the big island of Hawaii. It is peaceful, the climate is perfect and my gardens are thriving! Perfect conditions for composing. Since I compose in spurts, there are intervals of time that allow me to go outdoors and enjoy the beauty that surrounds me. Musical ideas flow easily under calming conditions that inspire.
What would you say to an artist performing your work that nobody else knows?
Everything is new. Give yourself space to be creative with this music. We are a single expressive unit and dynamics and tempos are suggestions only. My music seldom repeats and when it does look for changes that may not be obvious. Use it to your best advantage.
What was your favorite musical moment on the album?
There are several musical moments that stand out from my perspective, but perhaps my favorite one is the last fifty seconds of Line and Polyphony, the music builds to an intense climatic ending!
Was there a piece on your album that you found more difficult to compose/perform than the others?
No. Just as all modern music is difficult to perform, it is all difficult to compose! Nothing comes easily, it’s a struggle, however, once a piece gets started it does tend to write itself. Endings and transitions become more obvious as you get deeper into the score.
What does this album mean to you personally?
It is my first all orchestral music release. And seeing the artwork on the vinyl puts a huge smile on my face. Alex Gross is one of my favorite artists and he graciously approved the cover design which I commissioned.
My music/library room is full of vinyl from years of collecting, I can now add my own to the collection. Composing The Rhetoric and Mythos of Belief for Bill, my partner of 37 ½ years, means more than words can convey. I will always treasure the time we had together on this planet, and the music, dedicated to his memory, will live forever in spacetime.
Is there a specific feeling you want listeners to tune into when hearing your work?
Express yourself!! Don’t let fear keep you from being creative and breaking rules. Embrace mistakes, weave them into the music. Be bold.