On Wednesday 24th April we welcome Alberto Barbetta from Italy for our second organ recital of the 2024 summer season. In this edition of ‘Notes from an Organist’ we discover more about them, and what to expect from their recital, including studying new music pieces; living in Vicenza; and how a toy keyboard kickstarted his musical journey.

Could you introduce yourself, how you got into music / become an organist and your musical journey to where you are today?
My name is Alberto Barbetta and I am an organist and music teacher from Vicenza, a beautiful city in northern Italy. I started playing the piano when I was 7 years old, after I was given a small toy keyboard, and I became passionate about music. Going to church on Sunday, I was struck by the sound of the organ and so I decided to start studying it at the conservatory of Vicenza, then I continued studying at the conservatory of Strasbourg. I furthermore expanded my skills by studying harpsichord in Vicenza and cultivating musicological studies at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice. I currently teach music in middle school, give organ concerts and work with various choirs in my province of residence.

What can people expect from your recital at Bradford Cathedral?
With this recital the audience will be able to listen to and discover, alongside very famous pieces such as Bach’s Prelude and Fugue BWV 552, very rarely performed pieces such as Vincenzo Ferroni’s Corale e Fuga. I have rediscovered and recently dedicated a CD to Ferroni’s music for solo organ and organ with voices and instruments for the Da Vinci Classics label. Pierangelo Valtinoni’s organ music is also not widely played, especially outside of Italy, but it absolutely deserves to be spread and known and the public will have this opportunity at Bradford Cathedral.

Why do you enjoy playing the organ?
The organ is a wonderful musical machine, it is no coincidence that Mozart called it “the king of instruments”. I like to play it because, in addition to having an orchestra under my fingers, its repertoire is vast and you never get bored! In addition, each instrument is different and it is very stimulating to find and experiment with the combinations of stops.

Do you have a particular favourite piece out of those you are playing?
I like all the pieces I will play but I am fond of the Sinfonia per Grand’Organo by the composer Pierangelo Valtinoni. His music is full of contrasting emotions and with his musical language he speaks to the audience. Valtinoni is famous all over the world for his children’s operas such as, among others, Pinocchio and The Snow Queen but his training as an organist, as well as in composition, is reflected in his organ production, whose writing is very accurate and rich.

This season’s theme is ‘The French Connection (Post-Revolution France)’. How are you reflecting this in your programme?
The link with this season’s theme “The French Connection” takes place thanks to the piece Corale e Fuga by Vicenzo Ferroni. Ferroni was a composition teacher at the Milan Conservatory at the end of the 1800s, but as student he studied at the Paris Conservatory with Augustin Savard and Jules Massnet. The French influence is very evident in his music even if with a typically Italian flavor and singability.

What are your hopes or plans musically for 2024?
I am currently studying new pieces, such as Franz Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue on “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam” and I would like to offer them to the public by the end of 2024. I would also like to teach at the Conservatory in the near future.

You live and play in Vicenza – is that a nice place to live and work?
Living in Vicenza is very pleasant because it’s a beautiful city rich in history and art and is in fact a UNESCO city, thanks to the work of the architect Andrea Palladio (1508-80) that gives it its unique appearance. In Vicenza there are many opportunities to listen and make music. In the province of Vicenza there are also many historical organs which, however, for historical reasons, are often smaller than those of northern Europe or England and that is why I like to discover and play even large instruments such as the one in Bradford Cathedral.

Finally, how would you sum up your upcoming recital at Bradford Cathedral?
The recital’s program is very varied: from the baroque of Bach to the romanticism of the Italian’s Ferroni and Bossi, to arrive at the contemporary composer Pierangelo Valtinoni from Vicenza. In this way it will be possible to listen to various eras, schools and different styles.

You can join us on Wednesday 24th April at 1pm to hear Alberto’s organ recital, with an optional £4 buffet lunch beforehand at 12:30pm.

You can discover more about our organ recital season on our dedicated page.

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