Giulia Tagliavia was born in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. She obtained her B.M. in Piano and Composition at the Conservatorio V. Bellini in Palermo, and further studied Film Scoring with Oscar winner Luis Bacalov at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena. Since 2008, she collaborates with Italian writer Stefano Benni for his theatrical readings, and in 2016 they premiered the opera ‘La Gilda Furiosa’, published by Casa Musicale Sonzogno. She has been awarded by the Italian copyright society with the Premio Siae 'Libera il Jazz' and she won the contest ‘In Clausura’, launched in Rome by the cellist Giovanni Sollima, with chairman Oscar winner Nicola Piovani. Since 2017, she works as pianist with the Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble, which will be opening the 2018 edition of Venice Biennale Musica with 'The Yellow Shark' by Frank Zappa. As a film composer, she has written the soundtrack for films that have been awarded and screened at renowned festivals, such as Locarno film Festival, Rome film Festival and the 50° Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, where the film ‘Samouni Road’ by Stefano Savona won L’Œil d’Or Documentary Award. She has been selected by composer Bruno Coulais to attend the French atelier for emerging composers ‘Emergence Cinema’. In June-July 2018 she will be composer in residence at the Italian Culture Institute in Paris.
About you: background and education
I was born in Palermo, Sicily. Since my early years, I collected almost a whole orchestra of toy-instruments, and I used to spend my Sundays listening to my grandma - who in her youth was a soprano singer - accompanying herself on the piano and singing beautiful arias from operas, or Italian songs. At the age of 8 I felt in love with the piano. I had a classical training at the Conservatory of Palermo, where I got my B.M. in Classical Piano Performance and Composition. I also started developing an interest in improvisation, when my parents gave me a cd of Thelonious Monk trio, playing Duke Ellington’s music. My favorite track was ‘Caravan’. I then started attending master classes in improvisation lead by Uri Caine, Phil Markowitz, Dave Burrell, Antony Coleman and the exposure to different genres and musical styles have deeply influenced my further way. Cinema is also a passion I’ve nurtured since my childhood. I remember watching even 3 times per day (so it is in my memory) the ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’ and listening to the songs over and over again. Since then my interest in film music grew bigger and bigger. I’m honored to have studied with Luis Bacalov at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. I will never forget when, after showing him one of my scores with a trivial mistake, he whispered in my ear “Remember, it’s a world of wolves.”
Musical and non-musical inspiration
I think that one’s own musical background leads to new intuitions, as it happens in my big band score ‘Fiume d’acqua Dolci’, a composition inspired by the Italian social activist Danilo Dolci, in which I’ve ran a dodecaphonic double-canon. In addition to music, I get my inspiration from other artistic fields, including illustration and graphic novels. I treat drawing as a musical element: the rhythm of the drawing on a page, the smoothness or sharpness of the lines, the development of the story and its characters, and even the use of colors or the black and white effect. I like to translate those into musical elements. Aside from music and art, my musical inspiration often comes from non-musical experiences. In fact, I get often inspired by places, such as the city of Naples and its colorful people, or the gorgeous Guerfa caves dated 2500 B.C. and located in Sicily, where a sound has a natural reverb of almost 8 seconds and you feel like plunged in the underwater..
'Polyopia', is a collaboration project involving new music that I’ve composed, and features choreographer Julie Schmidt Andreasen, dancer Signe Bach Errboe and videomaker Tamara Erde. The piece explores several physical states and the video illustrates the interrelation between inner and outer world. The music score is based on one sound interacting with its feedback, like an echo, trying to recreate the border between inner and outer space. The term Polyopia indicates a non-convergent view of an object that becomes multiple objects, almost a hallucination. I translated that into a non-convergent sound source, like polyphony, a sort of hallucinated polyphony that acts on a single sound, breaking down into harmonic vibrations, and on multiple sounds, overlapping different sources. In this score, I used both electronic and acoustic instruments, including prepared piano and flute, along with field recording and processed bugs sounds. The score begins with a very high-pitched melodic phrase, like a music-box reminiscence to which another track overlaps with a sound shadow. Like in a fugue, I held on the idea of different voices chasing and imitating each other.
Your experience as composer and film composer. Your life between Italy and France. Current and future projects.
After completing my musical studies in my hometown, I moved to Rome where I tried to get as many experiences and opportunities as I could. While in Rome, I had the chance to compose the music for two movies, which have been screened at the Rome Film Festival and the Locarno Film Festival. After winning a composition contest, I met my current music publisher Casa Musicale Sonzogno that published my first opera, titled 'La Gilda Furiosa'.
One year and a half ago I moved to France, where recently the film ‘Samouni Road’ by Stefano Savona won L’Œil d’Or Documentary Award at the Cannes Film Festival 2018. The film is a coproduction between France and Italy and I’ve scored the animated sequences featured in the movie, drawn by Simone Massi and his team. The main idea for the music is found on the technique of the drawings themselves: very dense black and white lines, scratched in negative. My idea was to give back the ‘visual noise’ of the image, without overlooking the rhythm of action, pointing out the drawing details. A painstaking work, that I’ve really enjoyed; half way between music and sound design with a strict compositional approach. I’m currently working on a new composition for Trio featuring clarinet, electric guitar and percussion, a quite unusual combination. This piece will be premiered at the Italian Cultural Institute, in Paris where I will be Artist in Residence in Spring 2019. During my time at the ICI, I will also work on a project for piano and electronics. I will spend the upcoming Summer in Italy, playing concerts with Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble. We will be at the Ravenna Festival, performing ‘2x5’ by Steve Reich and premiering a new composition by Christopher Trapani, who is the current Artist in Residence at the American Academy in Rome. Then in September, Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble will open the Biennale Musica of Venice, playing the integral version of ‘The Yellow Shark’ by Frank Zappa, which makes me very excited! Finally, I continue my collaboration with Italian writer Stefano Benni, started ten years ago. We are currently working on a theatrical reading that features the work by J. L. Borges.