Published: 31st March 2017
'Berklee was a life changing experience'
....says Italian vocalist Eleonora Bianchini, who's in Chennai as part of Swarnabhoomi Academy's faculty
Whoever said music knows no language couldn't be more right. How else could you listen to a song in a language you have no clue about and still understand every emotion behind it? "We all have a world of colours inside us, and music is just a way to express ourselves," says Eleonora Bianchini, an internationally acclaimed vocalist and voice teacher hailing from Perugia, Italy, who in in Chennai as part of Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music's faculty. Here's what she has to say about her music, singing in general and how to make a career out of your passion. Excerpts...
How were you introduced to music?
I grew up in a very small village, Pieve di Compresseto, in Umbria, Italy. Right from an early age, I would go to the village church on Sunday with my family and it was there that I was first exposed to music. When I was nine, I started playing the guitar for the choir.
What would you say is unique about Italian music?
The beauty of Italian music is definitely about the melody. With classical music, opera, the bel canto vocal technique famous all over the world since the sixteenth century, we have developed a deep sense of musicality and melody. We’re very close to our tradition and culture but we’re also very creative and open to meet other kinds of music from all over the world.
When was your first stage performance?
I performed for the first time when I was 13. Later, I started performing in Perugia, Rome and then in the United States in Boston and New York where I lived for 7 years.
Big start: Eleonora released her first album in 2008
How did your training in Berklee shape your performance and career?
Berklee was a life changing experience for me. As soon as I stepped in I felt I was finally in the right place. Berklee is a “paradise” for musicians, with the practice rooms opened until 2 am, the best international musicians as your mentors, students from all over the world, so you can learn so much about their cultures and the different styles of music. I met two mentors Oscar Stagnaro and Jamey Haddad who really changed my life in terms of musical direction and the way I could learn to express my musicality at the best. During those years I also had the opportunity to perform with artists who inspired me deeply like Rosa Passos and Eva Ayllon. In Berklee I wrote my first song, and thanks to that experience now I’m working in my third album of original songs.
What does it really take to build a successful career out of singing?
You need to know how to shape your talent, whether you feel like writing your music, perform someone else compositions, or some other kind of job involved with music; It’s not easy to make a living out of your passion, but it’s the best thing you can do in your life, for yourself and for the whole world. It takes a lot of effort, especially now that artists have to support themselves, you have to be your own manager, composer and producer with a strong, romantic, sharp visionary.
Singing is, first of all, a way to experience the musicality inside of you, and you express it through your voice. Singing is a way to know yourself better, it is a gift and you give it to the people who listen to you. Yes, I do believe that people who feel passionate for singing can learn and improve by working on the 'listening' more than anything.
Can a Hindustani or Carnatic singer's knowledge compliment his/her ability to sing western classical music? Or do they have to unlearn it?
Absolutely yes, and without unlearning a thing. We’re in the year 2017 and people love to mix cultures and different styles of music, different techniques. It makes it fresher, more exotic and new. Students here at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music are special, so open to learn, understanding and welcoming other cultures.