Galway Festival Reflections: Davide Formisano

Davide Formisano was born in Milan in 1974. He studied with Carlo Tabarelli, J.C. Gérard, A.Nicolet. and Sir James Galway.  From 1993 until 1996 he won several prizes in the most important flute competitions in the world: Rampal competition, Budapest competition, ARD competition, and Kobe Competition. During this time he became principal flautist of the Staatsorchester Hamburg and The Netherlands Radio Orchestra before reaching the same position at La Scala” Theater -Milan in 1997 where he stayed until 2012.  During the Scala” era, he performed as a soloist and chamber musician with conductors such as Muti, Barenboim, Abbado, Chung, Entremont, Giuliani etc. Since 2008, he was appointed Flute Professor at the Hochschule für Musik Stuttgart in Germany and continues his career in the world. He is regularly invited as a jury member in the most relevant flute competitions among them the ARD.



When did you first meet Sir James?

I met Sir James "virtually" in the late 80's through his recordings, like every boy who starts to play the flute and commences to fall in love with his instrument. So when I heard he was coming to Milan to play some concerts, of course I went to listen to him. He was playing Mercadante´s flute Concerto with the Solisti Veneti and Claudio Scimone. At that time it was very difficult in Milan to meet him backstage so I decided I wanted to go to his summer Academy in Weggis.  I played for him Khatchaturian and Mercandate concertos in two lessons.  When I was 16, I could not understand English at all, but he was always very kind and friendly with me. He spoke to me in French and he played for me some examples so I could understand better what he was asking of me.  At the end of the week he came to me and said "you should study composition and conducting."  At that moment I did not understand what he meant, but later I realized that he wanted to say was not to focus so much on one thing in music. After that summer, I kept in touch with him and with the time a friendship developed between us.

How has Sir James inspired you?

Of course Sir James has inspired me, but more than an inspiration.  His playing was a revolution, and as Mao Tse Tung once said "Revolution is not an act of gentleness;" when it comes it comes, and it takes everything with it.

What is it about his teaching that you love the most?

He is the most accurate flute teacher regarding technical aspects, but then when he spoke about music he always tried to play the flute not as a flutist but as a singer or a violinist, because of his experiences with great orchestras, and because of his astonishing culture of operas and the symphonic repertoire.

I eventually came to understand this through the 20 years I played at La Scala working with great singers and great conductors.  In the end, I can say that in the flute world where many players who are afraid to "make music," Sir James is still the living example on how to break the rules with a lot of generosity and honesty.

What do you love most about Weggis?

What I love most about Weggis, is the fact that in this festival you have the super professional top flute players of the world, as well as amateur players, you have kids that are 14 years old and advanced aged flutists, all staying together for 10 days.  This is the best example of an ideal society, and the true legacy of Sir James.

What is your favorite album of Sir James?

I have 4 favorites!!! Rodrigo Concerto, Mercadante Concerto, Khatchaturian Concerto and "The Enchanted Forest" that every flutist who wants to hear a real legato should listen to.

How about favorite Sir James moment? 

My favorite Sir James moment was when we celebrated his 70th birthday at la Scala in 2009. It was a very special moment where music spoke more than thousand words:

Other links:  P. de Sarasate´s Carmen Fantaisie.  Mozart G Major III. Tempo di minuetto R. Rossini´s Viaggio a Reims, Teatro alla Scala  B. Godard´s Suite of three pieces. III. Waltz

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