Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?
I grew up in a family of musical traditions. In particular, from my mother’s side, my grandfather and great-aunt were respectively first cello and harp of the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala in Milan and, with them, also other relatives were involved in the life of the same orchestra in different ways. I can therefore say I was surrounded by music since I can remember, but was never forced into it: making music has been a genuine desire of mine, in particular to play the guitar. I loved the instrument since I first played a few notes on it and fell in love with recordings by Julian Bream and Andrés Segovia since a very young age. I therefore like thinking that the desire of pursuing a career in music came naturally from a background of genuine interest and love for music itself, and thanks to the constant support of my family.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
From an artistic point of view and strictly from within the musical world: Sergiu Celibidache, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Stefano Grondona and Paul Galbraith. From a professional point of view: the support of an institution like the Royal Academy of Music and my teacher Michael Lewin as well as the general excitement and cultural life of a city like London, which I haven’t found anywhere else yet.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I think the greatest challenge is shared by most musicians at the start of their careers and it is finding as many opportunities to make ourselves heard by a wider and wider audience. I am now a City Music Foundation Artist and CMF helps emerging musicians break into the professional world.
The more we play, the more we feel fulfilled: the will to play the music I make to people is one of the profoundest desires that I have and keeping that up with the international platform can be quite challenging! But also the very force that pushes me forward, trying always to improve what I do.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
In terms of recording, definitely the studio recording of the Guitar Concerto that I have composed (Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra): this in fact I consider to be a great achievement of mine as I managed to write a Concerto, play it myself and see it performed by wonderful players as well as conducted by a great conductor, who is also a very good friend, Constantin Riccardi.
This Concerto was premiered recently in London and that is definitely one performance I am very proud of. But also concerts that I held in London at Kings Place, The Athenaeum Club, St Martin in the Fields were wonderful moments, together with many others i might forget now.
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
Tough question… First thought I’d say it is not up to me to answer it, rather to the audience! But I do enjoy particularly playing new music as well as original 20th Century repertoire and I hope I am conveying my enthusiasm in my interpretations.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
Lots of elements come into play when choosing repertoire, and I think it is important to find balance between them: there are always pieces I personally would love to play, then certain repertoire that works well for certain venues and audiences. What I try to do when choosing repertoire is always having a wide range of styles under my hands so that I can build programs flexibly, according to what promoters and venues prefer. Also I try to play music from a historical period that is as wide as possible as I find audiences enjoy very much contrast as well as a large overview on the guitar’s repertoire, which is not necessarily well known.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Barco Teatro in my hometown, Padova (Italy), because of its amazing acoustics but also because this is a theatre that is run by me together with my family. When I get the chance to play there it always feels special, as I am performing in a space that was created with my family in order to make art and music.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
I would quote again the premiere of my Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra. This happened on September 20th 2019 in the Duke’s Hall of the Royal Academy of Music, which was filled with audience. This not only was a great deal of work in terms of practice and composition, in terms of organising, finding the orchestral players and scheduling rehearsals on my own together with the other artists involved in the project, but also represented the culmination of a very long creative process for me, where all the aspects that I find essential in music making came together. The presence of teachers, friends, family and important musical personalities in the audience made it an incredibly moving night.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
To me success can be both artistic and professional and I believe it is important to make this distinction. This said, I feel the best success I wish to have is to artistically fulfil my aspirations and, because of that, be admired and respected by audiences and musicians alike. Fingers crossed!
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Always keep up enthusiasm and curiosity, never let the desire of knowledge and discovery fade.
Giacomo Susani performs at the Church of St Bartholomew the Less on 13 November. Full details here
Recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, the classical Guitarist Giacomo Susani has won numerous prizes and awards including the London International Guitar Competition, the David Russel Guitar Prize, a special prize at the XVII Koblenz International Guitar Competition and received support from The Julian Bream Trust, The Calleva Foundation, The Countess of Munster Musical Trust (Star Award), Help Musicians UK (Ian Fleming Award), The Worshipful Company of Musicians (Yeoman programme) and The Park Lane Group. He has been a D’Addario Artist since 2018.
In 2016 he was selected by the International Guitar Foundation – Young Artists Platform for a concert tour in the UK. In 2018 he was invited by EuroStrings – European Guitar Festival Collaborative to perform and teach masterclasses in numerous guitar festivals across Europe. He continues an intense performing schedule as soloist and chamber musician playing in prestigious venues in England (The Athenaeum Club, St. Martin in the Fields, King’s Place, St James’s Piccadilly among the most recent) and in Europe.
Giacomo is a 2019 City Music Foundation Artist