Riccardo Tesi

 Riccardo Tesi 2007 - foto Lucia Baldini


Riccardo Tesi myspace

A composer, an instrumentalist and a researcher; these are the aspects of the complex and multifaceted musical personality of Riccardo Tesi, a true pioneer of ethnic music in Italy.

From his debut in 1978 alongside Caterina Bueno, strongly rooted in the folk tradition, to his present-day partnerships, the musical curriculum of Tesi, born in Pistoia is characterized by a precious continuity based on eager passion and curiosity that have led him to compare his Tuscan heritage to the Italian, Basque, English, French and Madagascar traditions, as well as to jazz, liscio (Italian popular dance music) and songwriting.

His instrument, the diatonic accordion (melodeon), is an example of perfect symbiosis with his conception of memory. For the first time in Italy, he even dedicated a whole record to this instrument, a forerunner of the accordion, entitled “Il ballo della lepre” (1981).

What is amazing about Tesi is his easily recognizable style, through which he allows his accordion to speak both an archaic and modern language, widening the vocabulary and the technique of an instrument which has long been preserved as part of a traditional heritage.

A “brilliantly outdated” choice that places Tesi, thanks to his lyricism and virtuosity among those who at all latitudes, have restored dignity to the accordion and its affinities.

His musical experience with Sardinian-Tuscan group Ritmia, his duo with Patrick Vaillant, the Occitan song show “Anita, Anita” with Vaillant e Jean Marie Carlotti, the diatonic accordion trio, Trans Europe Diatonique with John Kirkpatrick, Marc Perrone, Kepa Junkera, the jazz trio with Nicois mandolin player, Gianluigi Trovesi, have broadened his geographic borders and musical frontiers as well as other highly prestigious partnerships with Madagascar-born Justin Valì, with Sardinian singer Elena Ledda, with Umbrian singer Lucilla Galeazzi, with the Sicilian group Dounia, with Portuguese Amelia Muge, the Sicilian Rita Botto, the harp player Vincenzo Zitello, clarinetist Gabriele Mirabassi, the tambourine players Carlo Rizzo and Alfio Antico, with pianist Rocco de Rosa, with the flutist Rao Kyao, the Portuguese guitar virtuoso Custodio Castelo, with the Neapolitan jazz of Maria Pia de Vito, with guitar player Beppe Gambetta, Reno Brandoni and Peppino D’Agostino, with the ethnic jazz of Daniele Sepe, with the humour of Banda Osiris, with artists from the rock area such as Francesco Magnelli, Ginevra di Marco (ex CSI e PGR), Piero Pelù and Skiantos, with DJ Ominostanco and the great Italian singer song-writers Ivano Fossati, Fabrizio De Andrè, Ornella Vanoni, Gianmaria Testa, Giorgio Gaber, Carmen Consoli, Carlo Muratori, Tosca, Cisco, Cristina Donà, Nada, Giua (Maria Pierantoni Giua), Peppe Voltarelli, Ermanno Giovanardi.

In 1992 he founded Banditaliana, at present rated as one of the most important groups in the international world music scene with who he has recorded a total of 6 albums, celebrating 25 years of activity.

In 2012 Riccardo Tesi created “Cameristico” where the diatonic accordion meets the classical sound of piano, clarinet and cello for a series of new compositions alongside a reinterpretation of some of the most significant pages of his repertoire.

Since 2010 he is a member of the “Samurai”, an international organ quintet with the Basque Kepa Junkera, the Finnish Markku Lepistö, the young Italian Simone Bottasso and the Irish David Munnelly with whom he has recorded two albums and played in major festivals throughout Europe.In 2014 he was responsible for the musical direction of the re-staging of the historical show BELLA CIAO on the occasion of the show’s fiftieth anniversary.

In 2018 he resumed his historic collaboration with the French mandolinist Patrick Vaillant together with the frame drum virtuoso Andrea Piccioni in the project "Capanne con vista", which on special occasions extends to a quartet with the jazz clarinetist Gianluigi Trovesi.

In 1996, on commission of the French Ministry of Culture and the Festival "Le Grand Soufflet", he composed the original music for "Viaggio in Italia" for an orchestra of eighty elements.
In 1997 he arranged and conducted, for the Festival Folkermesse in Vercelli, "Transitalia" with E.Ledda, L.Galeazzi, D.Sepe, C.Muratori, Tenores di Bitti etc. and directed by Moni Ovadia.
In 2001 he created, as composer in residence, the original creation "Flatus Calami" dedicated to bagpipes, for the festival of Scapoli (Isernia) documented by the homonymous CD.
In 2002 he composed the music for the opening ceremony of the Giro d'Italia in Croningen (Holland), arranged by Mirko Guerrini and performed by a band of 100 elements.

Separate chapters are the thematic works that Tesi has consecrated to the rereading of particular musical heritages: the first, in 1994, dedicated to the world of Italian dance music "Un ballo liscio" in which, with a multi-ethnic orchestra composed of folk, jazz, classical and dance musicians, proposes a "rigorous and unscrupulous" reinterpretation of the genre most mistreated of Italian music, the other in 2000, dedicated to the traditional music of the mountains of Pistoia "Acqua, foco e vento" with the partnership of Maurizio Geri and a tentet including some of the most important musicians of the Italian world scene. In 2006, together with Claudio Carboni, he produced the original production and the album "Crinali" in which he reinterpreted the traditional music of the Bolognese Apennines with a group including M. Geri, E. Bonafè and M. Fadda (Banditaliana ) and artists from other musical experiences such as Ginevra di Marco (pop-rock), Stefano and Roberto Melone (songwriter) and Nico Gori (jazz).Finally, in 2010, together with Maurizio Geri, he produced the original production and the album "Sopra i tetti di Firenze", a tribute to Caterina Bueno, singer and researcher of Tuscan folk music, but above all teacher of both musicians who, at different times, began their activities in the groups of Bueno.

In 2014 Franco Fabbri invited him to re-stage, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary, the historic show Bella Ciao that in 1964 gave rise to the Italian folk revival.
For the occasion Riccardo Tesi invites to the stage some of the most extraordinary female voices of Italian folk and beyond: Elena Ledda, Lucilla Galeazzi and Ginevra di Marco, followed by the male voice of Alessio Lega , the most important representative of social and political singing.
The instrumental accompaniment is entrusted to the guitar of Andrea Salvadori, the percussion of Gigi Biolcati and the accordion of Riccardo Tesi.
The debut takes place on June 14, 2014 at the “Camera di Lavoro” in Milan, obtaining an overwhelming success that in the following years will cross national borders with tours in the most important festivals throughout Europe.

In 2005 he composed the original music (performed by R.Tesi, M.Geri, D.Puliti) for the theatre show Leldorado, a project of the Compagnia del Teatro dell'Argine written by Mauro Boarelli and Nicola Bonazzi, interpreted by Micaela Casalboni, directed by Andrea Paolucci. In 2008 he composed the music for the show La fine di Shavuoth, a production of the Teatro Stabile di Bolzano directed by Cristina Pezzoli.In 2011 he set to music the children's show "for song, movement, images and objects" La Barca e la Luna, by Roberto Frabetti, staged at the Teatro Testoni in Bologna directed by Valeria Frabetti.In 2015, together with Daniele Biagini, he composed the soundtrack for Calendar Girls with Angela Finocchiaro , Laura Curino, Carlina Torta, Ariella Reggio, Matilde Facheris, Corinna Lo Castro etc., a box-office hit show touring for three years, directed by Cristina Pezzoli.

From an idea of the writer Stefano Tassinari, he participated in the festival La parola immaginata (San Lazzaro di Savena, Bologna), playing with Banditaliana the reading of some works by writers Bruno Arpaia and Daniel Chavarria interpreted by Matteo Belli. With Gianmaria Testa and Piero Ponzo he composed the musical accompaniment for the reading of "Il racconto dell'isola sconosciuta" by Josè Saramago interpreted by Antonio Cederna, directed by Giorgio Gallione (2001, Teatro Modena in Genoa).For the review “Literary '05” in Pistoia he created the show entitled “Maledetta Benedizione”: an evening dedicated to Tiziano Terzani with the theatrical readings of Giovanni Fochi and music by Banditaliana.

In the film L’estate di Davide by Carlo Mazzacurati he played the musicComposed by Ivano Fossati; for the soundtrack of the film La Lingua del Santo (by C.Mazzacurati with F.Bentivoglio and A.Albanese) the director selected five tracks from the album "Un ballo liscio"; and for the film L'amore ritrovato (by C.Mazzacurati with S.Accorsi and M.Sansa) he composed a piece of the soundtrack and made a brief appearance in the film as a dance musician.In the same role he also appears in Michael Hoffmann's Midsummer Night's Dream (with M.Pfeiffer, K.Klein and R.Everett).In 2005 he composed the soundtrack for the film Liscio by Claudio Antonini (with L.Morante) appearing with members of his group Banditaliana.

*2002, The International Accordion Prize and Competition "Città di Castelfidardo", now in its 27th edition, has awarded Riccardo Tesi the "Voce d'oro" award for the activity of spreading and enhancing the image of the accordion in the international music scene. In past years the prize has been awarded to artists of the level of Richard Galliano, Astor Piazzolla, Gianni Coscia, Antonello Salis, etc..
*2004, "Gus Viseur" Award (Cité de la musique, Paris) to Riccardo Tesi as best world organist
*2004, Mantova Music Festival, first place Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana for the best repertoire and the best interpretation in the category "Proposals of the festival".
*2004, Pistoia, "Traditions and beyond" Award to Riccardo Tesi with a presentation by Maurizio Agamennone
*2005, Premio Città di Loano per la musica tradizionale italiana awarded to Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana's album "Lune" as best Italian album of world music
*2005, Florence, "Premio Aexequo per lo spettacolo" awarded by the Region of Tuscany to Riccardo Tesi
*2005, Florence, "Odoardo Spadaro" Award to Riccardo Tesi
*2005, Udine, Folkest, Lifetime Achievement Award "Una vita per la musica" assigned to Riccardo Tesi, first Italian artist to receive this award which has been won won in previous editions by Noa, Ian Anderson, Joan Baez, Carlos Nunez, Paddy Moloney, etc.
*2005, Forte dei Marmi, European Music Award to Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana
*2007, Insound Award for Best Ethnic Musician
*2010, "PIMPI - Italian Independent Popular Music Award, instituted by Mei - Terra di Musiche, for the "Best ethno/folk revival production" for "Sopra i Tetti di Firenze" by R. Tesi and M. Geri
*2011, Città di Loano award for traditional Italian music awarded to the album "Sopra i tetti di Firenze" by R. Tesi and M. Geri as best album 2010
*2011, Paris, Grand Prix International du Disque de l'Academie Charles Cros awarded to the record Accordion of the Samurai group as best world music album of the year.
*2012, Belgium, Octave de la musique Award to the Samurai group.
*2013 Orpheus Award to “Cameristico” as best Italian album of World music.
*2014 City of Loano Award for Traditional Music with Maggio (Banditaliana) as best album of the year.
*2014 MEI BlogFolk Choice Award with Maggio (Banditaliana) as best album of the year.
*2015 Orpheus Award with Maggio (Bandtaliana) as best Italian album of World music.
*2018 Orpheus Award with Una vita a bottoni (Ed Squilibri) as best Italian album of World music.

From 2001 to 2014 he was the artistic director of the festival "Acoustic Paths" organized by the Culture Office of the Province of Pistoia, which took place in the most remote and picturesque spots of the mountains of Pistoia.In 2015, together with Claudio Carboni and Claudia Cappellini, he created the Quarrata Folk Festival, of which he is the current artistic director, which takes place in the picturesque setting of the Villa Medicea La Magia in Quarrata (Pistoia) nominated in 2013 UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since 1980 he has been teaching and researching a pedagogy suited to popular instruments and in particular to the diatonic accordion, for which he is the author, together with Roberto Tombesi, of the first Italian manual dedicated to this instrument, the method entitled "L'organetto diatonico" published by Berbèn. He is currently a permanent teacher at the Mabellini School of Music in Pistoia and also regularly holds workshops on accordion and ensemble music in Italy and abroad.In 2016 the biography written by the journalist Neri Pollastri "Riccardo Tesi: una vita a bottoni" and SQUILIBRI with an anthological CD attached was published.The photos of R.Tesi (top right) are by Alessandro Botticelli and Piero Ninfa respectively.


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