After interviewing, all together, the world-famous Tenor Andrea Bocelli – who is also said to be the most famous Italian national alive – the Albanian cellist Redi Hasa who escaped the civil war in Albania by fleeing to Italy and the Canadian composer Stephan Moccio – known as “the man behind Miley Cyrus’ wrecking ball“, who is also of Italian descents, I thought the thing about classical music coupled with my rants against Italy was over, at least for this year.
But you don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are.
And so, without any notice, you receive (just another) email from somebody suggesting that you give a listen to their music.
On an average day, you get dozens of such requests, and you always respond to everybody explaining why these people and their music are most probably not a good fit for your publication.
This one – this Stefano Fasce – is also Italian like you, to start with, so why is he emailing you in English?
You are exhausted.
You are tired of Italians acting Italian, and you’re even more tired of Italians acting like Brits.
Or, even worse, like French.
You have memories of terrifying dinner parties in Paris full of Italians telling each other how much they disliked pasta and pizza.
Maybe if you try hard enough you will actually revert your inner ability to spot a fellow citizen even in the middle of the Amazon forest, even from 60 miles away and even if he’s disguised as Mickey Mouse.
You really don’t want to hear the same stories anymore, always the same stories about how a doctor from South Italy saved Boris Johnson’s life from Covid in London and how the Coronavirus’ DNA sequence was first isolated by a female Italian scientist working on a 6-month temporary contract in Rome that paid 1,000 euros per month and was getting renewed for years and years and years without ever becoming permanent.
On top of that, the tons of irrelevant media pitches you receive every day are becoming just a burden, regardless of the nationality of who is pitching.
To explain another publicist who keeps calling you Sylvia instead of Silvia why their screaming 15-year-old Youtuber client is definitely not of interest for anyone but his mother is always a waste of time.
Today, you are not in the mood for that.
Today, you review the proposal this Italian guy, this Stefano Fasce has sent you quickly scanning for possible spelling mistakes and traces of utter stupidity just to have a good excuse to say “no thanks” and bin him.
You cannot find any.
His email is straight to the point, and the guy sounds polite and intelligent.
At the bottom of your heart you know that he emailed you in English out of professionalism and not to act British, because whoever and whatever you may have become, it was still your idea to start a magazine in English.
So who is actually acting more British between the two of you now?
You feel guilty.
You feel like you’ve done something wrong even though you haven’t actually done anything at all yet, and this makes you feel like a horrible person.
It’s not his fault.
It’s not your fault either.
You don’t exactly know who is to blame for the way you feel, so you suddenly become terribly angry and you start complaining against the world in general, which – by the way – is something very Italian.
You go on, you visit the guy’s website and click play.
And then, bam.
You click play again. And then again. You review the website, the name, the face, everything.
In shock, you read that Stefano Fasce is an Italian film score composer who writes mainly for flute and strings, has an MA in Composing for Film & TV from the UK-based National Film & Television School and was awarded a Celebrity Online Scholarship from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, U.S., where he also received a Specialist Certificate in Orchestration for Film & TV.
You also learn that he composed music for Sky History’s documentary Al Murray: Why Does Everyone Hate The English?, for Goathland on Channel 4, and for the movies The Whale Bowl, My Times and Dead Birds, starring Game of Throne’s star Tara Fitzgerald.
Also, Stefano’s most recent score for Dear Mr Burton was granted both Best Original Score at the International Sound & Film Music Festival and Best Soundtrack at the White Deer International Film Festival.
You are delighted to apprehend that the guy was rewarded with a placement in the BFI Network x BAFTA Crew‘s year-long talent development programme, that he has been supported by the Psappha’s Composing For Cello Scheme to write a new composition for cello, and that the release of his debut solo album titled Solitary Places, out in November 2020, was made possible thanks to a bursary from the h Club London’s Emerging Creatives Programme.
Needless to say, the man has moved permanently from Northern Italy to the UK in the end.
You’re still in shock because Stefano Fasce’s first single Human is something you can’t stop listening on repeat.
The first time you hear it, you think, hey, this sounds a bit like Ennio Morricone.
The second time you tell yourself, ok, maybe it was a bold statement, let’s pay more attention now – and so you try to find out if the track reminds you of something else you heard before – but it doesn’t.
Human is just a marvellous song by itself.
From the third time on, you just surrender and find yourself completely fascinated by the unbelievably graceful and touching melody you’re hearing and you just want to play it again and again and again.
Then you switch to the other tracks by Solitary Places and you have the same sort of Stendhal Syndrome while listening to Dear Juliet.
Stefano Fasce composes some of the most sweet-sounding, operatic and just incredibly beautiful instrumental tracks you’ve ever heard.
You remember how you felt the first time you heard the wonderful We Had Today by Rachel Portman, which is also the film score of One Day, a heart-breaking movie with Anna Hathaway and Jim Sturgess based on a novel by David Nicholls.
You just wanted to tell everybody how beautiful Rachel Portman’s piano solo was.
You didn’t yet know she had won an Academy Award.
And so you go on and secure an interview with the astonishingly talented young composer who emailed you out of the blue not really to make him a favour, but rather because when Stefano Fasce will also get an Academy Award you’ll be able to tell everyone: I was right.
You see, I didn’t even want to write about Italians at this time.
But, as John Lennon once said, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
Let it be.
Stefano, how did you come up with Solitary Place as a title for your debut album? What does this record mean to you?
For me, Solitary Places is the beginning of a new journey as an artist and performer which goes hand in hand with my career as a screen composer. The album encompasses my background in classical music and my past experiences with electronic and cinematic music. The title originates from a phrase I read in the novel ‘Orlando: A Biography’ by Virginia Woolf and that really caught my attention: “Orlando naturally loved solitary places, vast views, and to feel himself for ever and ever and ever alone”. Having my work always been inspired by my trips to many remote places, I thought Solitary Places was a perfectly matching title for my album. This is a very exciting time for me: as I’m finally free from media boundaries, I can fully express myself, and I hope my work will inspire others and resonate with their feelings.
How did you get into film score composition? Why did you get into movie scores rather than pop or rock music?
I got into film scores gradually. As a teenager, I was playing in a pop-rock band back in Italy but, as things were coming to an end with that project, I started composing my own music, mostly orchestral compositions with a cinematic feeling; this naturally led me to approach movie score composition. But I guess the quick answer is probably that I simply enjoy creating film soundtracks more than making pop or rock music. The variety of projects and challenges, the collaboration process with filmmakers, the music composition itself and the sound palettes I can choose from means that I find film scores a much more exciting assignment to perform. I think music and images combined together can really generate wonderful and powerful outcomes.
What musical instruments do you play?
I attended the State Conservatory of Genoa Niccolò Paganini in my hometown in Northern Italy, where I graduated in flute. I also play the guitar and the piano and I have been studying the cello for two years now. I find the learning process as a sometimes hard but rewarding experience, and the more musical instruments I learn to play, the more I can rely on myself for recording and put together new ideas appropriately – and in the end, playing is fun!
What was your dream job as a child and what would you be doing now if you weren’t a music composer? Did you have a plan B?
I don’t remember having that strong dream job as a child, but the influence of my family – they are also musicians – directed me towards a creative job. To my parents’ regret, I never actually had a plan B and I don’t think I could live a fulfilling life by doing something other than composing music. I am not sure what I would be doing right now if I wasn’t a musician, I would probably still be in a creative job… I like graphic design, so maybe something involving art.
Which of your songs are you most attached to?
This is a difficult question. As a film composer, you’re basically told from day one not to get too attached to your music as your aim is to realise the director’s vision rather than your own. So maybe it doesn’t come as a surprise that Human, the lead single from Solitary Places, is the one I’m most attached to, at this time. That song gives me the perfect balance between classical and modern influences I aimed for, and it is probably my most representative piece of work as a contemporary classical composer so far.
Who are your main sources of inspiration in music and life?
There are two people in particular who have inspired me and made me realise that I could pursue my dream of working both as a concert songwriter and as a film score composer: they are Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and producer Ólafur Arnalds and German-British composer and pianist Max Richter. Looking at what they’ve achieved in life inspired me to aim for an equally fulfilling life and career, and their influence on my music can be seen in the shift regarding my personal projects, as I went from writing music for symphonic orchestras to composing for smaller ensembles and focusing on melodies, harmonies and textures.
Are there any artists you would particularly love to collaborate with, at this stage in your career?
I grew up listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, so I often wonder what it would be like to write something together with John Frusciante, who also has a separate electronic music project. English singer-songwriter Imogen Heap also does very interesting things. I think I would like to work with someone a little bit distant from my world as this could take us somewhere unexplored and fascinating.
In your opinion, what could be done to spread access to instrumental and classical music to the general public?
Combining concerts of classical music with more recent musical pieces might probably attract a wider audience. Also, as streaming services are now deciding what’s hot and what’s not, I think creating engaging playlists could bring classical music closer to people.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I’m currently working on two TV series – one is Greek and the other is for a Colombian children’s programme. I’m also re-working a few of my pieces from Solitary Places for solo piano to create more intimate versions to be released early next year. I’ve also written more compositions I plan to release in the upcoming months, exploring different areas of modern classical music which I can’t wait for the public to listen to. I would also love to play my music live with a small ensemble, so I’ll be working towards that as well. I’ve got a lot of projects going on!
★ If you are into classical music, also check out the interviews with Soprano Joanna Forest, Emmy and BRIT nominee composer Sarah Class, neo-classical music composer Stephen Emmer, cinematic instrumental duo AVAWaves and Dolche.