Soulful and inspired, Maria Rago's music will take you on a musical journey toward new soundscapes.
Gifted with a unique artistic vision and incredible creativity, Pianist and Composer Maria Rago is one of those artists who can capture the wide spectrum of human emotions with her compositions.
Today we have the great pleasure of discovering more about this talented artist with an exclusive interview!
Hi Maria, and thanks for being with us today! Your music is intense, passionate, evocative, and energetic, but it is much more than that. We are thrilled to know more about your artistic journey, so let’s start from the beginning. When did you discover your passion for music?
Hi and thanks for having me. I think that music, partly for love, partly for pleasure, and partly as a moment of reflection, has always accompanied each of us, marking special moments, memories, smiles, and tears. Thus, like many others, my relationship with music began, but at a certain point, music decided to intensify this relationship and to request the exclusive right to be part of my life, becoming a companion, for better or for worse, with almost “no way out”. A path made of shadows and lights, a path where living among those musical notes becomes a challenge but also a perdition. An incognito journey where you search, find, discover, invent, talk to unknown creatures, dream, and get lost in a motion reminiscent of Sisyphus! An abstract condition exists in reality where all the contrasting senses coexist with equal intensity.
But there is also a pleasure, a satisfaction, and a hidden complicity in all of this!
Pieces like Open Arms on the Red Land go deep into the hearts of the listeners and captivate them from the first note to the last. Can you tell us more about this piece?
If I could describe the world in one color, it would be red. A symbol of strength, of contrast, of free ideas, of screams, of fire, and here is the creature with Open Arms on the Red Land exposed to everything, a horizontal and vertical symbol, with arms out to infinity and feet planted like roots in the ground, a creature capable of a universal embrace, whose breath rises above all, and carrying inside the strength to walk through the fire with hope in his eyes.
You started your studies at the age of 24; you are proof that it’s never too late to learn music and impact the music panorama with your talent. What would you say to those who use age as an excuse not to pursue their passion for music?
My life was going in a completely different direction; music wasn’t even a distant choice. Overwhelmingly, music established itself as a life choice. I was 24 years old, and no one would have ever believed that this choice could become concrete.
I was afraid but crazy enough to believe that I had no choice but to be a musician or at least try to be. It was not easy to make a teacher understand that this choice was not extravagant but a real journey—certainly everything to be built, everything to learn, but real. And my teacher, Lea Cumbo, was extravagant and crazy enough to believe it, along with me!
This was not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this was the beginning of a new book!
It’s never too late to dream.
It’s never too late to believe.
It’s never too late to learn.
It’s never too late to be what you might have been!
Are you planning any concerts in 2023?
I have two projects I’m working on: the soundtracks for the film about the mysterious disappearance of the Italian physicist Ettore Maiorana and the play about the life of the American poet and novelist Charles Bukowski. And four world premiere performances in New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and London for orchestra and electric guitar.
Recently we saw your moving performance at The Empty Corner, an event of music and solidarity. Can you tell us more about this project?
The recent performance at The Empty Corner, thanks to the artistic director and incredible photographer Liz Schrenk and the collaboration of the Iranian activist Laura Abassy, was dedicated to raising funds to support the Iranian revolution “Woman, Life, Freedom” which flared up after the death of Mahsa Amini. A revolution that draws its lifeblood from the strength of the girls and women who have fought and are fighting against the domination of political and obscurantist Islam over their lives. A concert with the reading of poems by Iranian poets and the screening of a short documentary filmed by a group of freelance journalists present in the field, as well as an exhibition of artists who have donated their works in support of the movement of Iranian women. A moving concert of profound solidarity which was an example of how music, and art in general, can unite and create synergies at the service of the community and those whose voice is unheard. An event that I will remember and from which we all understood and listened to each other better.
Your songwriting is refined and elegant, powerful and energetic. Can you tell us what your creative process is? How does your music come to life?
It is always difficult to explain the creative process in words, and because we are dealing with unknown creatures such as musical notes, which move freely, are unique, and are independent of each other, the composer’s task is to capture them, stop them from wandering, and tell their story. The composer searches for a known “story” that becomes new for the listener by bringing to life a miracle that existed in the past and is projected over time. The composer represents that hand that sinks into the past to live in the present and stretch into the future. I also believe that the mysterious, curious, satisfying, narcissistic, and exhausting process of composing can be conceived as a social situation involving unknown people and their stories, the chaos present in the frenetic succession of daily events, the contradictions, the tensions, and the suffocating cry of the media. So music becomes a sort of society that functions without government but is governed by people’s voices that turn into sound. The composer is a gigantic tape recorder who listens and records and, tuned to mysterious frequencies, brings them to life.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration arises suddenly from a sensation, an emotion, a smile, an unknown face, a tear, a story, a love affair, or a farewell. In short, it can arise from anything that pulsates, moves, vibrates, lives, or dies. You are there ready to catch, organize, give the “stories” a voice, and in the end when they are formed they will leave you and start walking in an unpredictable direction you can’t control anymore.
You are an award-winning artist. Among the awards you received, is there a special one for you?
For two reasons, the award for Best Music at the Dallas Film Festival in Texas, when I met the sparkle of my husband and my son’s eyes, and because that short film was raising awareness of human trafficking.
From Italy to the USA, do you feel your life divided between these two great nations, and their contrasts reflect on the way you write music?
Two different nations, with different social strata, with different cultures, languages, histories, and ways of being, but when you belong to the world of music, you become a bit of a citizen of a land that does not exist, and the two nations, the one of origin and the one where you live, become, in their diversity, a source of reflection, understanding, enrichment, and inspiration. I like to define myself as a creature stretched between the figures of Amedeo Modigliani and the colors of Andy Warhol.
If you could travel back in time, which composer would you like to work with?
Difficult to answer… I think Johann Sebastian Bach. A monumental spirit suspended between heaven and earth and projected beyond time.
What are your plans for the future?
Complete an opera on the revolution of life and faith wrought on Paul of Tarsus and continue to seek and listen to stories to give voice to.
Maria, it was such a pleasure having you with us today. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Thank you so much; it was a great pleasure!
Listen. Be curious. Always try to do what you are not capable of doing, learn how to do it, and create something unique!
Check the links below, discover more about Maria Rago and her music, and remember to add her tracks to your favorite playlists!
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