Humour is the forte of piano genius Gargiulo

Gargiulo’s own new non-profit organisation,
16000children, is named for the fact that 16,000 children die of hunger every
day. It will bring together musicians, visual artists and filmmakers to create
events to raise global awareness.

“All the money that’s raised will
go to partner organisations that are actually in the poorer countries in Africa,
India, Asia. Right now we’re working with Save The Children and the first
concert is on 12 March in New York.”

Gargiulo was invited to Cayman by
organiser Christina Rowlandson of the DSG Cayman who had seen a performance of
his in New York.

“At one point I got a little
serious and said that if we want anything to change then we, right here, are in
the best position to do anything. I guess I connected with some people and
Christina was one of them,” continued Gargiulo.

A performance starts with a short
piece on the piano that Gargiulo said gives the right ‘credibility’ and shows
the audience that he can play technically-demanding and fun pieces.

What’s different from a ‘normal’
classical performance is that he will then invite the audience to not sit there
quiet, tense and worried but to join in and ask any questions that they might
have.

“Ideally, they’d have a glass of
wine before every performance, but it sets a good tone. I play a little, I talk
a little and there’s an official Q&A session. Usually by the end of the concert
everybody feels very comfortable with everyone else and that’s nice. I think
that’s a good way to listen to music – not when you’re sitting there so tense
you’re scared almost to move.”

Gargiulo’s more relaxed approach to
a performance, he said, is based on three things.

“It’s who I am as a person – I like
to entertain people and not just by playing for them, so if I’m out with a
group of friends I want to entertain them. It’s important to me on many
different levels.”

He trained as a classical musician
and his idea of a concert was the traditional one, he said.

“A pianist comes on, plays and then
leaves. If he’s lucky the audience clap! The career of a pianist is very
difficult; you finish many years of study at a Conservatoire, at the end they
give you a diploma, shake your hand and say good luck cause that’s all they can
do. They don’t have a job for you, it’s like trying to become an actor – you
have to make your own path.”

Early steps into performance, he
explained, included regular concerts at retirement homes where he would be
asked to explain the music to his audience who were usually appreciative.

“I’d tell them all about Beethoven
or the composer on the serious side. Then sometimes they couldn’t hear so they’d
talk back to me and it was fun for everybody – so then I started trying to do
it at my own, more serious concerts and some of the presenters were sceptical.”

He said that a watershed moment
came in the traditionally staid-audience Philharmonic Hall of Verona in Northern
Italy.

“I didn’t tell them I was going to
do this kind of performance and they all really liked it and 90 per cent said
it was a great experience.

“I also went on tour with another
musician called Joe Bergstaller, the trumpet player. It was a road trip; we
were driving across from California. He’d been doing concerts for much longer
than I had and I saw that at his concerts he’d talk to the audience, tell them
stories and it was quite prepared but done incredibly well so I thought it was really
cool.”

Gargiulo’s performances may be
geared toward raising a grin – at least in the stand-up sections – but he’s far
from a ‘comedian’ in the traditional, scripted sense.

“Most of what I do is kinda
improvised. I’m usually preparing for the last five minutes before the concert.

“I love Jerry Seinfeld, I love
Woody Allen and I think if people are laughing they’ll stay longer for sure and
go away happier so there’s more chance they’ll buy your CD at the end!”

Talking of albums, Gargiulo’s recently
released a collection titled Mostly Julian, a blend of songs by Chopin and the
first time that the pianist has bowed to peer pressure and recorded some of his
own compositions.

He may not enjoy the over-serious
atmosphere that can pervade dusty old concert halls, but when it comes to
talent this is truly serious stuff.

On Friday, 5 March at 10 am Garguilo will be
giving a youth workshop at the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church. This free
workshop is dedicated to hosting high school Years 7, 8 and 9 and is designed
to introduce students to classical music in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

Tickets for the concert on Thursday,
4 March are available from Butterfield Bank, main branch location, 2nd floor
reception; Funky Tangs; Full of Beans café at Pasadora Place; Picture This in
West Bay; and Vigoro Nursery at both Walkers Road and Agricola Drive. They cost
$75 per person

Sponsors for the event are Butterfield, Caymanian Compass, Crighton
Properties, KPMG, Ogier, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Cayman National, and Caledonian. All proceeds will benefit paediatric
programmes supported by the Diabetic Support Group in the Cayman Islands.

CAYMANLIFEJulianSTORY

World-renowned pianist Julian Gargiulo will perform in a benefit concert at The Ritz-Carlton hosted by the Diabetic Support Group this Thursday, 4 March.
Photo: Katya Chilingiri
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1 COMMENT

  1. It’s just amazing that a talented young pianist like Gargiulo finds in himself the enthusiasm and altruism to worry about the children of this world and do something about it. It gives us all something to think about. Bravo Julian – Bravo Caymanian Compass!

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