At the Piano

A Short-Ish Vitae

I was born in a relatively boring Italian town close to Milano and I moved to San Francisco in my late twenties. I studied music and piano at the Milano and San Francisco Conservatories and privately. My dearest memories: Ernesto Esposito, my music theory teacher (I miss him so much), Isabella Zielonka, who opened the piano for me, Giacinto Salvetti, so dedicated and who believed so strongly in my capabilities, and later Bob Helps, the king of piano technique, and Julian White who taught me much of what needs to be known about the piano and music. I studied composition at the San Francisco State University (where I got a Master) and at the University of California at Davis (where I never finished my PhD due to ... the commute ... way too long from San Francisco and I was getting a bit too old to move to go school!).

For many years my musical activities were intertwined with a parallel-track academic life in mathematics as a professor of Bioengineering and Biostatistics at the University of California at San Francisco. I got a PhD in science! and I was doing research in mathematical applications to Biology for a long time. This, being somewhat versed in mathematics and musics, often generates the familiar reaction: Ah! Musicians and Math! But I must admit that the relationship of music and mathematics still eludes me, although some simple mathematical relationships pop up, mostly hidden, in my compositions.

I have now been a full time musician for many years, which is quite a relief, and I am actively involved in the new music scene in the San Francisco Bay Area (as soloist, chamber player, board member of the SF Composers Chamber Orchestra, and NACUSA SF, co-organizer of the Festival of Contemporary Music in San Francisco, founder of the composers’ group Irregular Resolutions). I teach piano and composition privately and at the Community Music Center in San Francisco. Recent compositions include works for orchestra, chamber opera, piano and violin solo, two pianos, percussion, and a variety of chamber ensembles. My writing is a mix: alternating lyricism, dreaming and sometimes surreal landscapes, lots of rhythmic variety, and more anxious musical motions. My idiom is a 21st century mix of neo-tonality, extended counterpoint, modern techniques, classical structures and experimentation with musical forms

The unavoidable list of slf-promotional achievements: I am recipient of multiple ASCAP Plus, Zellerbach foundation, and international composition competition awards ... and many NIH (National Institute of Health) grants. A lot of those actually ... all trying to make some sense of stiff biological realities using some mathematics ... but that was another life.

The future? Desires for what time is left of this quick life? Not very much. I would like to write some good music and to be good.

at the piano