Giovanni Sollima (born October 24, 1962) is an Italian composer and cellist. He was born on October 24, 1962, at Palermo, Sicily, Italy, into a family of musicians and studied cello with Giovanni Perriera and composition with his father, Eliodoro Sollima, at the Conservatorio di Palermo, where he graduated with highest honors. He later studied with Antonio Janigro and Milko Kelemen at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart and at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg. 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 first compositions date back to his teenage years in the 1970s, and his website lists solo, chamber, and orchestral works composed by the cellist beginning in the early ’90s.
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. As a composer, Sollima’s influences are wide ranging, taking in jazz and rock, coveing all eras “from the Jurassic of the Cello” as he calls the baroque period to the “Metal,” as well as various ethnic traditions from the Mediterranean area, with a melodic vein typically Italian. Sollima’s music is influenced by minimalism, building upon the foundations of Philip Glass and Steve Reich, with his compositions often featuring modal melodies and repetitive structures. Because his works are characterized by a more diverse and eclectic approach to material than the early American minimalist composers, the American critic Kyle Gann has called Sollima a postminimalist composer. One of his first credits on record was as composer of “Violincelles, Vibrez!” (1993) for two cellos and string ensemble.
As a composer out of the ordinary, Sollima, who writes mainly for the cello and contributes significantly to the creation of new repertoire for his instrument, has collaborated with the American poet and musician Patti Smith, appearing on her records and performing with her in concert. He also collaborates with the Silk Road Project. His audience is diverse, from classical music lovers to young “metalheads” He works as a soloist with orchestra and various ensembles, including the Giovanni Sollima Band, which he founded in New York in 1997. 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.
Sollima’s classical output as both composer and performer continued on the Agora label with two releases in 2000, Spasimo and Viaggio in Italia (A Journey in Italy). The former included the 33-minute title composition, written in 1995 for solo cello and an amplified ensemble of cello, viola, violin, synthesizer, and percussion to celebrate the restoration of Palermo’s Church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo. The latter featured the titular extended suite, composed in the year of the album’s release and performed by the cellist with the Lark Quartet and with texts by Michelangelo Buonarroti, Giordano Bruno, and Francesco Borromini. “Casanova’s Sonata,” part of the Viaggio in Italia suite and appearing on the album, was also scored by Sollima for two flutes, two oboes, bass guitar, sampler, and string orchestra and incorporated in choreographer Karole Armitage’s ballet Casanova, staged at the Athens Festival that year. The cellist also premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2000, performing Viaggio in Italia with the Lark Quartet.
In 2012 Sollima issued a recording in a more traditional classical vein, Neapolitan Cello Concertos on the Glossa label; the album featured the cellist accompanied by Naples’ I Turchini ensemble, which specializes in Neapolitan music of the 17th and 18th century, conducted by ensemble founder Antonio Florio. Neapolitan Cello Concertos features compositions by Leonardo Leo, Nicola Fiorenza, and Giuseppe de Majo In late 2012 the upcoming release of another Sollima CD was announced: Caravaggio, originally composed in 2003 for solo cello and live electronics, along with a new piece (“Fecit Neap. 17”) written by Sollima in a congruous style..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 through rock music to contemporary music written “during the concerts.” The project was repeated in 2013 and in 2014 in Milan at the Teatro delle Arti.
In 2013 he also was the Maetro Concertatore of the project “La Notte della Taranta” a festival of traditional popular music from the Salento region of Apulia that climaxed with a big concert with an audience of more 130,000 persons. The prestigious Chicago Symphony Orchestra commissioned a new double cello concerto for himself and Yoyo Ma, the premiere taking place at Symphony Hall in Chicago in February 2014. 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).
My collection includes he following work by Giovanni Sollima:
Violoncelles, Vibrez! Ballad for two cellos and strings.
—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources