Virginia Guastella

Virginia Guastella (1979) has been working professionally for twenty years. Born in Palermo, with academic studies (Diplomas in Piano, Composition, Master’s degree cum laude in Aesthetics of Music at University of Bologna, Accademia Chigiana), she works as composer, pianist, producer and conductor in different fields: contemporary classical, crossover, opera/music theatre, improvisation and soundtracks to silent and sound movies.

Her music is performed at major international festivals, venues and broadcast on main radio and television stations: MITO Festival, Turin/Milan; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; BARD College, New York during her USA Tour in 2016; Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester – USA); Ferrara Musica (under the direction of Claudio Abbado); Musique à l’Emperi, invited by Emmanuel Pahud and Paul Meyer, Salon de Provence (France); Teatro Massimo (Palermo); Voll Damm Jazz Festival, Barcelona (Spain); I Pomeriggi Musicali, Milano; Sentieri Selvaggi, Milano; Sofia Union of Bulgarian Composers, Sofia (Bulgaria); Mittelfest, Cividale del Friuli (UD); Orchestra Haydn of Trento and Bolzano; Puccini Festival, Torre del lago; Società aquilana dei concerti Barattelli, L’Aquila; Nuova Consonanza, Rome; Fondazione ORT, Florence; Ravenna Festival; Elba Festival; Stresa Festival; Huset Theatre (Copenhagen); Fondazione Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte of Montepulciano (founded by H. W. Henze); Cineteca di Bologna; ORF Radio Wien; Rai Radio3; Rai3; SKY Classica HD; Bayerischer Rundfunk; Deutschlandfunk Kultur; France Musique.

Emmanuel Pahud, Paul Meyer, Les Vents Français, Hervé Joulain, Yura Lee, Isaac Rodriguez, Olivier Doise, Anna Garzuly- Wahlgren, Novus String Quartet, Roberto Abbondanza, Yves Abel, El Cimarròn Ensemble, Carlo Boccadoro, Quartetto Prometeo, Quartetto Tetraktis, Orchestra Haydn of Trento and Bolzano, Sentieri Selvaggi Ensemble, Icarus Ensemble, AltreVoci Ensemble, Francesco Bossaglia, Eva Maria Melbye, Gabriele Bonolis, Chiara Osella, Cristian Taraborrelli, Fabio Massimo Iaquone, Maria Eleonora Caminada, Danilo Pastore, Orazio Sciortino, Ensemble of the Orchestra regionale della Toscana (ORT), ContempoArtEnsemble, Gillian B. Anderson, Paolo Fresu, I Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, Roberto Prosseda, Stefania Sandrelli, are some of the artists that perform her works.

Her catalogue includes pieces for various instrumental and vocal combinations, and many publications among which there is her monographic cd So far so good. The album includes pieces written between 2006 and 2015 for string quartet, orchestra, piano, trio (alto sax, flute and piano), solo sax, viola d’amore and guitar, ensemble.

She is artistic director of Urban Opera Festival (UOF), a new festival of music theatre organized for the first edition in Bologna (City of Music Unesco) in collaboration with DAR – Department of Arts, Music, Theatre, Cinema and Fashion of the University of Bologna as main partner, with the support of DumBo, Robot Festival, the Municipality of Bologna and Emilia Romagna region.

In 2024 she worked as a composer and a music consultant to the soundtrack of the TV series Giacomo Leopardi – Vita e amori del poeta directed by Sergio Rubini and produced by IBC Movie, Rai Fiction, RaiCom. In the next months the series will be broadcast on RaiUno.

In 2023 she was composer, producer and pianist in residence at My site | in space Xenon Residency, produced and curated by Copenhagen Platform in collaboration with Huset Theatre (Copenhagen, Denmark). That same year she premiered at Cineteca of Bologna her original project of live soundtrack to the silent film Dornröschen (1917) by Paul Leni with her reduction of the music from the opera La bella dormiente nel bosco by Ottorino Respighi with the support of Ricordi and Fondazione “G. Cini”. In that occasion she conducted the Dub’s Step Dialettica Ensemble (DSDE), that she founded two years ago and involves also in projects of Improvisation and music theatre.

In 2022 she was composer and pianist in residence in Milan at the Festival Mappe sonore of the Sentieri Selvaggi Ensemble. In July 2022 was the premiere of her chamber opera for soprano, countertenor and ensemble L’ombra di un meriggio lontano, commissioned by Fondazione Cantiere of Montepulciano with the artistic direction of Mauro Montalbetti. She is also the author of the libretto in Italian, French and English based on texts by Amelia Rosselli, Franz Kafka, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Dante Alighieri.

In 2021 it was a great success the premiere of her monodrama Angelica cunta for mezzo soprano and ensemble, commissioned by Nuova Consonanza Festival in Rome, freely inspired by Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto and the book Storia dei paladini di Francia da Carlo Magno Imperatore fino alla sua morte, compresavi la battaglia di Roncisvalle by an anonymous author. In 2021 she was composer in residence at “I Concerti della Normale” of Pisa invited by the artistic director Carlo Boccadoro.

In 2020 her duodrama Floria, sì, sono io, with Stefania Sandrelli as reciting voice, was performed at Puccini Festival of Torre del Lago, commissioned by Giorgio Battistelli, artistic director of the Festival.

In that year she was invited by Ravenna Festival to perform her original music for a show in duo with Massimo Gramellini.

In 2018 she was composer and pianist in residence at the “CLASSIX” Festival in Kempten (Germany) where her music was performed by soloists also coming from the most renowned orchestras of the world such as Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Concertgebouw of Amsterdam and Leipzig, Philarmonique de Radio France, National de France, Lucerne Festival.

In June 2017 she was in residence at the Academy of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence taking part in the “Women Opera Makers Workshop” for professionals in the field of contemporary opera between Aix and the Royal Court Theatre of London in collaboration with the english director Katie Mitchell. There was the second time for her in residence at the Academy. In 2015, in fact, she had been invited by the composer Fabio Vacchi to the “Opera Creation Atelier”.

In September 2016 she was on tour in US for five concerts performing her original music (piano solo and live soundtrack to silent movies). The tour started in Washington, DC, at the National Gallery of Arts that invited her for two performances, and then continued at BARD College in the State of New York, at Spectrum (in NYC) and in Paducah, UNESCO Creative City (Kentucky).

In 2008 with the score Pax virginis for solo voice (baritone) and orchestra she won the International Composition Contest “Strumenti di pace” (Rovereto) with Giorgio Battistelli as Commission chairman. The piece has been premiered by Roberto Abbondanza, Orchestra Haydn of Trento and Bolzano conducted by Gustav Kuhn and broadcast live on Rai Radio3. Then performed twice in the season of the orchestra conducted by Yves Abel.

Since 2007 she has worked as a music consultant and a composer on the original soundtracks for the episodes of the documentary series La Grande Storia and Correva l’anno broadcast in prime time on RAI3. Since that year with her Duo Improbabile, together with the drummer Claudio Trotta, she has performed her original music in very important venues and festivals such as Ferrara Musica in collaboration with Il Torrione Jazz Club, Voll Damm Jazz Festival of Barcelona (Spain) and for Bologna Jazz Festival, among others. In 2009 their first album Slancio moderato was published by RaiCom Music Edition.

In 2002 she won the International Piazzolla Music Award performing her original versions for piano of the pieces written by the famous Argentine composer and performer.

Winner at a very young age of national piano competitions, also with international juries, around the age of 20 she has performed with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by Alexander Lonquich, with the Orchestra of Teatro Comunale di Bologna conducted by Daniele Gatti, and collaborated with Orchestra Mozart conducted by Claudio Abbado. In the same years she worked for Cineteca of Bologna as pianist in ensembles playing soundtracks for silent movies, as korrepetitor in Die Zauberflöte by W. A. Mozart, directed by Daniele Abbado, with Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado, and in Ariadne auf Naxos by R. Strauss, directed by Toni Servillo, with the National Symphonic Orchestra of Portugal conducted by Zoltán Peskó.

She is tenured Professor in Harmony and Analysis for the Italian Ministry of University and Research working at Conservatory of music “G. Puccini” of Gallarate for over a decade and at Conservatory “G. B. Martini” of Bologna. Furthermore, she offers masterclasses and is guest of meetings and conferences in European and International conservatories and institutions among them: ESMUC (University of Music) and Conservatory of Music in Barcelona (Spain); DAR – Department of the Arts and Department of Foreign Languages and Literature of the University of Bologna; Center for Moving Images at BARD College (NY – USA); Accademia Filarmonica (Bologna).

At the age of 17 she received her MA in Piano in her native city with Enza Vernuccio, then in Composition at 22 under the guidance of Adriano Guarnieri in Bologna, where she took also her MA in Aesthetics of Music with Maurizio Giani at DAMS (Disciplines of Art, Music and Drama), Faculty of Literature and Philosophy at the University of Bologna, graduating magna cum laude.

In 2001 she took part in the course on Use of Live Electronics in Music Composition with A. Guarnieri and Alvise Vidolin organized by the Conservatory “G. B. Martini” of Bologna. During the years of her training she studied conducting with Piero Bellugi, then she went on for advanced studies in Piano with Aquiles Delle Vigne, Boris Petrushansky and in Composition with Salvatore Sciarrino at the Accademia musicale Chigiana in Siena. She studied privately conducting with Gillian B. Anderson.

In 1999 and 1994 she attended the Berklee School of Boston Clinics at the Umbria Jazz Festival (Perugia) in Jazz playing and Composition and received a prize “in recognition of her outstanding musicianship”.

Member of the Board of Judges – Concorso 2 Agosto, 2024 Edition