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  • “AndràTuttoBene” Music Festival Online

From Italy to the World- “AndràTuttoBene” Music Festival Online

Europe has been suffering heavily by the current global coronavirus pandemic, Italy being one of the hardest hit. Since 10 March, the country is on lockdown with all concerts and events being cancelled. People cannot leave their homes except shopping for very basic essentials and are spending long stretches of time at home.

Amidst this crisis, artists and musicians around the world have started streaming performances, masterclasses, lessons and lectures/talks online since March, with the intention of keeping the performing arts alive. Today, I would like to introduce you to the “AndràTuttoBene- Music Festival Online” from Italy, which started from very early on in the pandemic, leading the trend. The festival pages on Facebook and Instagram currently have over 60,000 views.

Keeping the Light of Music Alive

The mastermind and artistic director of the festival, Italian cellist Riccardo Pes, who lives in the Spilimbergo province of Pordenone says: “When I first heard the word
pandemic, I was in London and thought it was fake news. I returned to Italy, and immediately saw the severity of 
the situation. Theatres were closing, concerts were being cancelled left, right and centre, and we were in a very difficult situation.

I had to come to terms with the reality that artists wouldn’t be able to perform, people wouldn’t be able to attend concerts and the light of music will be extinguished. In these unprecedented times, we as humans need beauty and music. As the dark silence continued on, my close friend, the journalist Paola Dalle Molle contacted me in early March to say “Riccardo, we have to do something.” I then had the idea of an authentic classical music music festival- a festival that also included the musicologist Roberto Calabretto, (Professor of Udine and Padova Universities, Director of the Levi Foundation in Venice). When I asked him to get involved, he loved the idea and we created the video lecture series “Music Anatomy”. Finally, the pianist Yuki Negishi joined the team as technical support.”

Photo: The London-based violinist Laure Chan streaming online on 13 April

Musicians from Around the Globe Join the Festival

This idea to hold an event entirely online came to full fruition as the “AndràTuttoBene- Music Festival Online”.
AndràTuttoBene means “Everything will be alright”, and it is a phrase that has been used frequently during this crisis to encourage each other to overcome the virus.

Between 20 March and 9 April, 35 musicians from Italy, UK, USA and China performed at 6pm CET everyday concurrently on the official Facebook and Instagram Festival pages. The programme and artists varied everyday, and there were violinists, violists, cellists, pianists, and even chamber music groups such as piano trios.

“I chose from among my musician friends, not only the most talented, but also those with wonderful personalities. Those that can provide a very high-level performance but also those who’s personalities shine through. There are many in the classical music industry who are extremely talented but have a poor personality, lacking in sensitivity and generosity. It is rare to find artists with innate talent and technical ability, and on top of that, being a compassionate human being, able to reach millions of people.” (Riccardo Pes)

Giving Their All in a Short Concert

“I asked all musicians to provide a programme that they felt were most personal to them, and that they would like to share to audiences listening from home (maximum 15 minutes). All musicians generously gave their artistic and musical personalities and talents, which I believe led to the success of this festival.”

Artistic Director Pes himself performed as a soloist in the festival. Using multi-layered recording techniques, he played his own piece along with solo works of Giovanni Sollima.

“I wanted to share a lively programme consisting of contrasts in tempo and mood, including ending with Leonard Cohen’s famous ‘Hallelujah’” (Pes)

Photo: Duo of a Chinese-Canadian (from Wuhan) pianist and an Italian pianist

Most musicians video-streamed from home. They gave brief introductions and started performing amidst silence with no applause. The media and public praised the variety in style between the artists; among them, pieces by Piazzolla and Moricone’s famous “New Cinema Paradise” performed by an Italian musician family, and a virtual duo performance between a Chinese-Canadian pianist (from Wuhan) and an Italian pianist.

“All the artists mentioned over and over how important it was for them to be involved in this project. They were united in high-levelled performances, a novel way of communication, the efforts of the team, and a social and human message.”

Using Social Media as a Platform

So how was it actually done? When you go to the festival page on Facebook or Instagram at the given time, a “live” button shows. We know that a live video will start from the screen soon.

The listeners are able to send messages to the performers. They are also able to chat and give opinions amongst themselves or send ‘applause’and heart emojis to show their appreciation. Social media, which has become part of everyday life and has the ability to give easy access to anyone, has closed the gap between performers and listeners, and even amongst the listeners themselves.

On the other hand, artists who had never done online streaming before had slight hesitations about streaming, thus needing technical support.

“Something to consider during a live stream is to avoid getting the performance cut mid-way. We were able to sort this out before the actual performances started, and thanks to Yuki Negishi, fortunately we were able to avoid technical issues.” (Pes)

“I was the first performer of the festival, and Riccardo was just finished figuring out how to stream right before the opening on 20 March. Individual artists were starting to stream from home then, but not on a bigger scale of various musicians from various places around the world. My role really, was to provide help to Riccardo (who, on top of being a cellist is also a composer/arranger, and had many interviews to do for the Italian media) and lift him of the burden of repeating the same instructions to the 35 musicians. For me personally, that was my first live stream and I was very nervous!” (Yuki Negishi)

Photo: Riccardo Pes’ Concert on Instagram

A Live Performance Everyday

There are millions of people around the world in very difficult circumstances: not only the musicians and others in the arts industry who’s concerts and engagements were cancelled overnight and left unemployed, but many others who have lost their jobs, or have family in hospital, or are faced with a grim and difficult reality due to this crisis on a global scale. Social distancing measures are in place to slow the spread of the virus and there are millions of people unable to see friends and loved ones. This is why we are craving connection with others at this moment.

Instead of an applause, during the concerts, the viewers were sending virtual hugs, messages and emojis. A heartfelt performance from across the screen gave peace and solace to those watching. “The response from the public was overwhelming, and I have received many messages of support and also critiques!” (Pes)

You can still watch all live videos from the festival on their Facebook page.


The Future of Online Concerts

Amidst lockdowns in many countries and events where many people congregate being cancelled, there are many festivals and competitions organizing online events out of sheer necessity. As the internet usage is being fully explored, the pros and cons of online streaming start to emerge.

Photo: Yuki Negishi's concert on Facebook

“An online festival overcomes geographical barriers. Anyone can access or stream from anywhere in the world. The downsides are the low quality in sound and the lack of immediate and personal contact with the audience. Of course, I think there are many positive possibilities to be explored as another live experience platform and the ability to connect audiences virtually.” (Pes)

“I sensed the strength and opportunity of online concerts as concert halls and live music events were being shut down one by one. Until this current situation, I never considered, and was too embarrassed to stream from home on a poor quality iphone sound and video. There were already many artists who were using livestreaming to send messages to fans even before the current crisis, but most of the time, they did not compromise on the actual performance sound quality (they used professional recordings, video etc).

I think we were thrown into a situation where performing in casual wear and streaming unedited live videos from home with poor quality sound (and untuned pianos!) were not only forgiven, but welcomed- especially through the pure generosity of the musicians trying to convey a genuine and positive message and performance. Another advantage of online streaming is the comfort of being able to listen from your sofa at home without having to pay for tickets and travel.” (Negishi)

On the other hand, as the lockdown continues, in order for the musicians to carry on performing actively, there will need to be support from the listeners/viewers as well.

“Improvements can be made massively on the technical side of online streaming; better audio and visual quality. I also think streaming for free will have its limits; the longer the quarantine goes on for, the more musicians will need to be paid in order to support their income and lifeline. Donations, or a paid service possibly.” (Negishi)

Supporting the Soul and Connecting through Music

On 13 April, at the final closing event, 12 musicians/groups in total joined for a Music Marathon from around the world, including clarinet and accordion solos and a viola and cello duo, etc. Musicians may be far apart, the concerts may be online, and the music may be coming from our smartphones and laptops instead of the concert halls…but it is a reassuring reality that there is a concert happening somewhere in the world at this moment. We cannot see it, but I think many people have felt a renewed appreciation for music, which is a much-needed food for the soul, especially in this current crisis. This festival has reminded us that music is an indispensable presence that gives emotional and spiritual support in desperate times and connects us all.

Interviewed/Written by: Mako Yasuda (Lives in Holland. Music writer and cellist)

English Translation by: Yuki Negishi (Lives in London. Concert Pianist)