“He makes me look like a pussycat!” said Ma, 54, sounding proud and almost relieved. “He’s very elusive. He goes silent for months at a time. You just can’t find him. He’s a supervirtuoso of the cello. He studied with [the eminent] Antonio Janigro but plays like a jazz musician and is part performance artist. He has no fear, and that’s unusual in the classical world – we’re all terrified of wrong notes.”
Yo Yo Ma, Philadelphia Inquirer
Giovanni Sollima is a true virtuoso of the cello, playing for him is not an end in itself, but a means of communicating with the world. He is a composer out of the ordinary, he communicates with a music full of mediterranean rhythms, with a melodic vein typically Italian, his world covers all eras “from the Jurassic of the Cello” as he calls the baroque period to the “Metal”. He writes mainly for the cello and contributes significantly to the creation of new repertoire for his instrument. His audience is diverse; from classical music lovers to young “metalheads” Giovanni Sollima conquers all.
Sollima was born in Palermo into a family of musicians. He studied cello with Giovanni Perriera and Antonio Janigro and composition with his father and Eliodoro Sollima and Milko Kelemen. From an early age he worked with musicians such as Claudio Abbado, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Jörg Demus, Martha Argerich, Riccardo Muti, Yuri Bashmet, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Ruggero Raimondi, Bruno Canino, DJ Scanner, Victoria Mullova, Patti Smith, Philip Glass and Yo-Yo Ma
His works as a soloist with orchestra and various ensembles (including the Giovanni Sollima Band, which he founded in New York in 1997) – unfolds between official and alternative locations: Brooklyn Academy of Music, Alice Tully Hall , Knitting Factory and Carnegie Hall (New York), Wigmore Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall (London), Salle Gaveau (Paris), Santa Cecilia, RomaEuropaFestival (Roma), Teatro San Carlo (Naples), Kunstfest (Weimar), Kronberg Cello Festival , Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Teatro alla Scala (Milan), International Music Festival in Istanbul, Cello Biennale (Amsterdam), Tokyo Summer Festival, the Venice Biennale, Ravenna Festival, “The Sounds of the Dolomites”, Ravello Festival, Expo 2010 with Orchestra della Scala (Shanghai), Australian Chamber Orchestra, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Liverpool Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra commissioned a double cello concerto for himself and Yo Yo Ma, the premiere took place at Symphony Hall in Chicago in February 2014 with rave reviews. They repeated the collaboration in 2015 at the Tanglewood Festival in a new cello project called “Distant Mirror”.
In parallel to the cello his curiosity led him to explore new frontiers in the field of composition through contamination between different genres making use also of oriental instruments, electrical and many of his invention. He also collaborated with other artists such as, for dance, Karole Armitage, and Carolyn Carlson, for the theater with Bob Wilson, Alessandro Baricco, and Peter Stein and cinema with Marco Tullio Giordana, Peter Greenaway, Lasse Gjertsen (DayDream, 2007), and John Turturro.
Together with cellist and composer Enrico Melozzi he promotes the project 100 CELLOS created at the Teatro Valle Occupied in Rome in 2012. Musicians from all ages, formation, get together for 3 days and 3 nights of cello music, from baroque going through rock music to contemporary music written “during the concerts” there are no limits. The project is already at its 7th edition and will be “occupying” the Ravenna Festival from the 11th until 18th of June 2016
In 2013 and 2014 he was the Maestro Concertatore of the project “La Notte della Taranta” a festival of traditional popular music from the Salento (region of Apulia”) that climaxes with a big concert in world vision with an audience of more 140 000 persons dancing to the hypnotic sound of the “pizzica”.
Among the last albums “Neapolitan Cello Concertos” for Glossa, “Caravaggio” and “Aquilarco” for Egea, in November coming out for Decca “Onyricon” while in May 2016 will come out for Glossa Music the first recording of the “Costanzi Project”, Giovanni will record the complete work for cello by Giovan Battista Costanzi, starting with the sonatas and a new composition: “Il Mandataro”
Giovanni Sollima, teaches at the Accademy of Santa Cecilia in Rome. He plays a cello by Francesco Ruggieri cello (1679, Cremona)