I was nine when I heard a close friend play classical guitar. I’d attended other concerts before, but seeing this friend perform made such a profound impression that ­– then and there – I decided to become a musician. I fervently studied guitar for a year, preparing myself for the entrance exam to the conservatory in my hometown, Brescia. But just as I was gaining proficiency, I fell in love with J. S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Who could blame me? I abandoned my first instrument, devoting myself instead at the altar of 88 black and white keys.

I enrolled in piano, counterpoint, and voice at the S. Cecilia Music School, a place that will always be very dear to me. Part of an Episcopal Seminary, the school was immersed in an atmosphere of contemplative quiet that accompanied the peaceful progress of the lessons. There, I learned the value of the relationship between teacher and pupil; the importance of inspiring mentors. I was also taught to share my studies and insights with classmates; the focus was on camaraderie – not competition.

But a radical change was coming.

In 1996, in Paris, I won first prize in a competition that awarded me a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. With the blessing of my teachers, I made arrangements to attend the following year, before taking the fifth-year piano and fourth-year composition exams.

At the age of nineteen I was catapulted into Boston, a heaving metropolis of breathtaking rhythms, embarking on four years of intensive study. The rigorous program included eight hours of class a day in an extremely competitive environment; the pace was frenetic. It was entirely different from my previous academic experience – and utterly ecstatic. The training stimuli, artistic influences, and professional experiences of that period were very many, too many to list and describe here. But of all the principles ingrained in me then, the most salient is the paramount importance of the immediate involvement of the student in the professional world.

Berklee’s regular exams took place within local concert circuits, from the sparsely attended to the most renowned, in the college auditorium, or the most prestigious halls of the city. These performances would attract important agents and journalists in the audience, as well as artistic directors invited by the teachers themselves. Alternately thrilling and terrifying, those first engagements with the public were critical to my development.

After graduating with honors in composition, I decided to return to Italy to finish my studies. Unable to take entrance exams in time to attend the following year, I chose to spend an exploratory year at the Conservatoire de Paris. I then returned to Milan, completing my studies in piano, composition, choir conducting, and orchestra conducting at the G. Verdi Conservatory, subsequently adding a master’s degree in Renaissance Polyphony at the International Academy of Music.

Recounting my education, I want to take a moment to express my immeasurable gratitude and appreciation for the thoughtful guidance of my teachers.

The turning point of my professional career was a victory at the 2007 Philharmonisches Kammerorchester Berlin conducting competition chaired by Maestro Otto Werner-Mueller. That experience opened doors to collaborations with leading European orchestras in prestigious rooms such as the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Grand Hall of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, to name a few. I followed Maestro Abbado during the first two editions of the Luzern Festival, in Ferrara Musica, in Reggio Emilia during the premiere of Fidelio, Don Giovanni, and many other symphonic productions. In the summer of 2011, I had the honor of being with Maestro Thielemann during his productions with the Münchner Philharmoniker. My continued dedication to the piano and composition has also allowed me to play as a soloist and to collaborate with important chamber groups in Italy, Holland, Belgium, and China.


Tiziana Tentoni

Website: Ecograph
Photo shooting: Jesús López B.


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