“He makes me look like a pussycat!” said Ma, 54, sounding proud and almost relieved. “He’s very elusive. He goes silent for months at a time. You just can’t find him. He’s a supervirtuoso of the cello. He studied with [the eminent] Antonio Janigro but plays like a jazz musician and is part performance artist. He has no fear, and that’s unusual in the classical world – we’re all terrified of wrong notes.”
Yoyo Ma, Philadelfia Inquirer
Giovanni Sollima is a true virtuoso of the cello, playing for him is not an end in itself, but a means of communicating with the world.
He is a composer out of the ordinary, he communicates with a music full of mediterranean rhythms, with a melodic vein typically Italian, his world covers all eras “from the Jurassic of the Cello” as he calls the baroque period to the “Metal”. He writes mainly for the cello and contributes significantly to the creation of new repertoire for his instrument. His audience is diverse; from classical music lovers to young “metalheads” Giovanni Sollima conquers all.
Sollima was born in Palermo into a family of musicians. He studied cello with Giovanni Perriera and Antonio Janigro and composition with his father and Eliodoro Sollima and Milko Kelemen. From an early age he worked with musicians such as Claudio Abbado, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Jörg Demus, Martha Argerich, Riccardo Muti, Yuri Bashmet, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Ruggero Raimondi, Bruno Canino, DJ Scanner, Victoria Mullova, Patti Smith, Philip Glass and Yo-Yo Ma.
His works as a soloist with orchestra and various ensembles (including the Giovanni Sollima Band, which he founded in New York in 1997) – unfolds between official and alternative locations: Brooklyn Academy of Music, Alice Tully Hall , Knitting Factory and Carnegie Hall (New York), Wigmore Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall (London), Salle Gaveau (Paris), Santa Cecilia, RomaEuropaFestival (Roma), Teatro San Carlo (Naples), Kunstfest (Weimar), Kronberg Cello Festival , Time Zones Festival (Bari), Teatro Massimo, Teatro alla Scala (Milan), International Music Festival in Istanbul, Cello Biennale (Amsterdam), Tokyo Summer Festival, the Venice Biennale, Ravenna Festival, “The Sounds of the Dolomites”, Ravello Festival, Expo 2010 (Shanghai), Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Liverpool Philharmonic …
In Parallel to the cello his curiosity led him to explore new frontiers in the field of composition through contamination between different genres making use also of oriental instruments, electrical and many of his invention.?He also collaborated with other artists such as, for dance, Karole Armitage, and Carolyn Carlson, for the theater with Bob Wilson, Alessandro Baricco, and Peter Stein and cinema with Marco Tullio Giordana, Peter Greenaway, Lasse Gjertsen (DayDream, 2007), and John Turturro.
Together with cellist and composer Enrico Melozzi he promoted the project 100 VIOLONCELLI created at the Teatro Valle Occupied in Rome. Musicians from all age, formation, got together for 3 days and 3 nights of cello music, from baroque going through rock music to contemporary music written “during the concerts” there were no limits. The project was repeated in 2013 and in 2014 from May 23-25th will take place in Milan at the Teatro delle Arti. There will be the 3rd edition of the composition contest and the first edition of a “libretto” contest.
I 2013 he also was the Maetro Concertatore of the project “La Notte della Taranta” a festival of tradtional popular music from the Salento (region of Apulia) that climax with a big concert with an audience of more 130 000 persons. This summer he will repeat the experience on the 23rd of August.
Among the last albums “Neapolitan Cello Concertos” for Glossa and “Caravaggio” for Egea.
The prestigious Chicago Symphony Orchestra commissioned a new double cello concerto for himself and M°Yoyo Ma, the premiere will take place at Symphony Hall in Chicago in February 2014.
Giovanni Sollima, teaches at the Accademy of Santa Cecilia in Rome and at the Fondazione Romanini of Brescia. He plays a cello by Francesco Ruggieri cello (1679, Cremona).