ELIZABETH NACCARATO LOVES ITALY SO RECORDED AN ALBUM THAT SOUNDS LIKE
American pianist and composer Elizabeth Naccarato has musically captured one of her favorite places, Italy, on her sixth album, Souvenir d’Italia. The dozen instrumental tunes are like picture-book snapshots of an Italian adventure that includes sitting at sidewalk cafes, meeting friends at the Spanish Steps, driving through the countryside, dancing, serenading, romancing, wandering through cathedrals and museums, sampling regional gourmet delights, and feeling the passion of the people.
“I have a great love of the landscape, art, history, people and food of Italy,” says Naccarato. “I have visited there numerous times and traveled throughout the country. I get to visit my best-friend who married an Italian and lives in the hills above Florence. There are so many aspects of Italy that I truly love -- late-night dinners at outdoor cafes, standing at a bar drinking expresso, gelato displays, the architecture, twisted olive trees, waking up to exotic birds singing, procuitto e melone, buying handmade treasures, relaxing during chiuso after lunch, the churches, passionate people yelling outside, and the incongruity of women in black cocktail dresses on Vespas. There were remarkable images everywhere I looked and they conjured up this music in my head like an ongoing soundtrack. I needed to express how Italy makes me feel, and music is my canvas, my pen, my camera.”
On Souvenir d’Italia Naccarato plays solo piano on three pieces -- “Assisi,” “Andrea’s Forest” and “Venetian Boat Song.” On the other tunes she is joined by musicians playing accordion, violin, mandolin, saxophone, bass and drums in various combinations. “Of course accordion and violin are an integral part of traditional Italian music, but I also chose to add mandolin because my grandmother played a mandolin from Italy and I have cherished memories of listening to her play.”
“Walking through the cathedral in Assisi, I was so moved by those who had walked the floor of St. Francis’s tomb, I cried, and later poured those feelings into the tune ‘Assisi.’ The inspiration for ‘Serenade’ came from sitting outside one night at Cafe Etrusca in Fiesole having pizza and pasta with friends, and I heard the melody in my head. You always feel the frenzy of Rome and the excitement in the air when you go to the Spanish Steps. For my ‘Spanish Steps’ composition I imagined a romantic interlude at this famous meeting place.”
Naccarato remembers, “I wrote ‘Waltz Italiano’ after attending a First Communion celebration in Tuscany and I was struck by the sense of family importance and warmth. My fascination with the gypsies and their music in Italy inspired me to write ‘Intermezzo.’ The piece ‘Andrea’s Forest’ came from a bumpy drive to my friend’s villa in Fiesole. ‘Natasha’ is my ode to a dancer in the night and with ‘Tango” I tried to capture a dance of love. For ‘Summer’s End’ I was imagining a summer romance that did not work out, and the plaintive sax solo captures that sadness.” The album ends with an instrumental cover version of the classic “That’s Amore.”
Elizabeth Naccarato’s previous recordings are Jarrell’s Cove (inspired by the coastline of Puget Sound near Seattle and produced by pianist Michael Gettel), North Sycamore (named for a street in West Los Angeles where she spent an early stage of her career, with special guests oboist Nancy Rumbel and saxophonist Richard Warner), Stone Cottage (inspired by a special residence with a wild garden), One Piano (a collaboration with Gettel) and History (combining some of her best work with both new and live performances). Naccarato’s recordings are available internationally and have received excellent reviews, airplay and sales. Souvenir d’Italia can be purchased as a CD or downloads at a wide variety of online sales sites including CDbaby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, Google Play and dozens more. For more information about the artist, visit her website at elizabethnaccarato dot com.
A native Texan, Elizabeth began her piano studies at the age of six at the Dominican Convent in Houston. She won her first piano competition at the age of nine and performed and competed in local and statewide events. At that time, her voice instructor noticed her ability for composition, and she became a student of Bessie Griffiths and Ruth Burr, studying piano and theory many hours a week. Elizabeth was a Piano Performance major at the University of Southern California where she earned her degree and where she studied with Daniel Pollack and John Perry in Undergraduate and Graduate studies. Naccarato was a three-time winner of the Hollywood Alumni S.A.I Scholarship as well as a highly-coveted Teaching Assistantship in graduate school. She continued her writing as a member of the Lehman Engel workshop in Los Angeles. She also studied acting and directing for four years with Janet Alhanti. Naccarato has performed her music extensively in Texas and on the West Coast.
Naccarato joined the Annie Wright Schools faculty in 1999 and has been affiliate faculty at The University of Puget Sound since 1989. Much of her instruction is in piano and voice, but she also has directed dozens of regional theater presentations of plays and musicals including “Grease,” “Annie,” “The Wiz” and “Steel Magnolias.” She will release a piano book for children titled Let's Play Piano in 2017. She also has another trip to Italy planned for this year.
“Souvenir d’Italia is a special project for me,” explains Naccarato. “I am the most peaceful I have ever been when in Italy. It simply feels like home to me. I knew I needed to journal my love for it in music. I needed to express how it makes me feel. When I was there, everywhere I went and everything I saw inspired me. I hope this album also serves as a souvenir and reminder of the warmth and wonders of Italy whether the listener has visited there or hopes to someday.”
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