Julian Gargiulo is nothing if not a traveler.
The concert pianist has played at some of the most famous venues in the world, including Carnegie Hall, but was spotted most recently on an episode of the popular TV show “House Hunters International,” looking for a place to rest his head alongside his partner Elektra. They settled eventually in Greece. Things tend to happen to the busy people, and Gargiulo [who has also been a columnist for the Weekender] is no exception, as he explained.
“My sister, who just published a best-seller ‘Diary of an Expat in Singapore,’ based on her popular blog by the same name was approached by the producers of the show,” said Gargiulo.
“She decided against being featured but gave them my name. Several Skype calls later we had come to an understanding with the people from ‘House Hunters.’ It was a go.
“Filming for three days in Athens, Greece, and one day in New York was much more intense than I had expected. Overall, it was a great experience, though I will never think of actors in quite the same lazy, good-for-nothing terms.”
Since that show was first aired, the pianist and growing tribe (he has a daughter, Nikita) have moved to Paris, a city of romance, art and magic.
“Paris is amazing!” the performer notes enthusiastically.
“We found an incredible place on Ile de la Cité, which is the small island in the middle of the Seine where Notre Dame is located. We are approximately a three-minute walk from Shakespeare & Co, the famous bookstore/art gathering place. As for the exact nature of a typical Parisian musical evening, I don’t want to ruin the fun by breaking it down into words. You’ll just have to come visit and find out for yourself.”
It’s on the list, believe us. So how has fatherhood impacted the composer and the performer’s art, we wonder?
“Tremendously,” said Gargiulo, succinctly.
“I now have to combine everything I know and do into tiny packets of time. Nikita is a light sleeper. (Let’s not say anymore on the topic for fear she wakes up.)
“In general, however, having Nikita has been a powerful creative force. I couldn’t tell you exactly why, but I’ve never felt so full of life and excited to be playing and writing music.”
Around the world in music
That music has taken the renowned concert pianist around the world, with the last two years or so seeing him on various cruise trips.
“I just flew back to Paris from Honolulu, and a bit earlier in the year I was in Singapore,” he confirms.
“It seems that anything I do nowadays is at least 12 time zones away. Crazy cruise moments? Well, there was the time I got thrown overboard, but then simply woke up in my cabin, victim of an undercooked curry.
“Maybe the most memorable was during my first cruise, when during a storm, the person who was scheduled to perform that evening got sick and 10 minutes before showtime I was asked to fill in for a Willy Nelson impersonator. I particularly liked the cruise director’s intro, when to an auditorium of 1,000 people he announced, ‘and just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse…’
“Beethoven with a southern accent. Bring it on.”
Gargiulo’s performances are often the polar opposite to the stuffy, opera glasses-and-politeness concerts of yesteryear. Instead, he prefers to demystify the process by getting up between songs and telling jokes, talking to the audience and explaining certain parts of the music. To date, he has released seven full-length albums of both classical and original classical music, the most recent titled “No Smoking,” which was released in 2011. He told us he had another one lined up.
Seeking a title
“My next CD will be all original compositions and transcriptions,” he said.
“I haven’t settled on a title yet, but if any readers out there have a good idea, please send it along. As it has only original music, this will be in a sense, my most personal CD and also my most risky endeavor, as I don’t have the name recognition of a Beethoven or Chopin to go on.
“It will have solo piano music, as well as works for violin, cello, trumpet and voice. I’m very excited to be collaborating with some fantastic musicians on this project. The release date is scheduled for late spring 2014, so start queuing up, iPhone 5 release style.”
There is already much in store for next year, he said.
“I’m starting the year with a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York on Jan. 12, so it will all be downhill from there,” he joked.
“But seriously, it seems like it will be very busy, with tours in the United States, Asia and Europe, the release of my new album and chasing after baby Nikita, who is already practically walking, and will certainly be running by then.”
Gargiulo is not only one of the world’s most sought-after performers, he’s also a firm friend of the Cayman Islands, having performed during 2010 for a special concert to raise funds for diabetes charities. Will he be coming back soon, we wondered.
“I’d love to come back and play in Cayman!,” he said, quicker than any man could transcribe the words.
“The last time I was there was a truly magical experience. The organization of the concert by Christina Rowlandson to benefit diabetes was impeccable. The people I met incredibly generous and kind. The weather, food and hospitality, [were] above and beyond.
“If there is another chance, count me in!”
Cayman promoters – over to you.