Francesco Loi is the Principal Flutist of the Carlo Felice Theater Orchestra in Genova. He currently teaches graduate studies at the Conservatory “Guiseppe Verdi” in Milan and has given masterclasses at the Senzoku University of Tokyo, Gonjiam Festival in Seoul and the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart, by invitation of Davide Formisano.
When did you first get interested in playing the flute and what was your music education like?
I started to study the flute when I was six years old after having heard a violinist friend of my uncle. After a few years of private lessons with Sergio Pinna, a very good and patient Sardinian flutist, I entered the Conservatory of Music in Cagliari in Salvatore Saddi's class, a fundamental figure in my training. He not only taught flute technique he told stories about the French School of playing and I literally fell in love with the instrument. He was the best teacher that I could have had!
After successfully completing studies at the Conservatory of Cagliari, I went to Imola to study with another important figure in my training, the soloist "Massimo Mercelli. In those years Imola was the most important flute center in Italy and Mercelli had created a paradise of flute. Once a month we had lessons with an international soloist, I had lessons with Aurele Nicolet, Andras Adorjan, Janos Balint, Alain Marion, and then with Maxence Larrieu who later became my teacher!
After a year at Academy in Imola I entered the Conservatoire Supérieur De Musique de Genève and at the same time the Italian Youth Orchestra, two experiences that changed me and immersed me in the world of professional work. And that’s when I decided that I would be a flutist.
What are some of the high points of your career?
I think among the important points of my career have been winning the position of first flute in the Italian Youth Orchestra, which gave me the opportunity to meet extraordinary musicians and conductors. I was lucky to be directed by Carlo Maria Giulini, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Eliau Imbal and Riccardo Muti. When I was 23 years old I won the position of principal flute in the opera house of Genoa, Carlo Felice Theater and I grew as an artist thanks to extraordinary colleagues and to listening to incredible opera soloists, I listened to lyric song in its highest form! I think it is one of the most formative things for a wind instrument player.
The position in Genoa allowed me to collaborate with other great Italian orchestras, such as La Scala in Milan, and in 2011 I was invited by Davide Formisano to replace him for 4 months which was a wonderful experience, as it was in Rome with the orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia when I replaced Andrea Oliva.
What are you doing musically today?
Today I continue to be the principal flute of the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, I teach a lot during the year, in Genoa, and at the Milan Conservatory with the first and second level Masters students along with Davide Formisano and Nicola Mazzanti. In the summer I teach and perform at different masterclasses between northern and southern Italy and I collaborate with Falaut World.
Do you have any conducting plans in your future?
I'm not a Conductor! But I will think about it ...
When did you meet Sir James Galway?
When I was studying at the conservatory in Cagliari, many years ago, my professor Salvatore Saddi gave me an audio cassette with Mercadante concertos played by the Venetian soloists, the soloist was a nice gentleman with a beard: Sir James Galway! From that moment, everything changed. A few years later in Florence I met Sir James personally, after hearing a recital of his, and it was incredible. The sound enveloped me and his extraordinary communication inspired me even more! I owe so much to Sir James Galway as I believe all the flutists of the world do, as he has given us a new and great vision of our instrument! A few years later I believe in 2015, thanks to Salvatore Lombardi and Andrea Griminelli, I participated in a wonderful evening for Griminelli's 40th year of his career and I had the honor of playing with Sir James and Lady Jeanne. They then invited me to Weggis (The James Galway Flute Festival) as a Guest Artist in the following years: 2016, 2018, 2019 for the 30th anniversary of the festival celebration of Sir James!
What do you enjoy most about orchestral playing?
Playing in the orchestra is an extraordinary experience, that no flutist should skip. You get to immerse himself in the warmth of orchestral sounds and then bring out your own when it is your moment. This is a real school for life, as it makes you live better even in society, music will save the world, I'm sure!
What advice would you give to a young player interested in playing in an orchestra? or interested in being a soloist?
The advice I can give to young flutists who are preparing to start an experience in orchestra is to be receptive and humble towards all your colleagues of all the instruments. There is always something to learn and to discover. For soloists, I don’t want to seem trivial, but originality is something unique. Let yourself be inspired by the great soloists of flute, but also of violin, cello, piano, trumpet, bassoon, etc.
Can you tell us about your philosophy of music and flute playing?
Playing means creating emotions, if you can't find the key to communicate and make the public feel good, maybe you’re not doing a good job. This is the philosophy of a musician!
What special projects are coming up for you?
On the 5th of June 2020 I will play the Khachaturian concerto with my Orchestra in the theater of my city, I am very happy and excited! I believe I will continue to teach more and more and there will be a collaboration with the Conservatory of Vibo Valenzia in Calabria in southern Italy. And I will be at the disposal of Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway for the James Galway Flute Festival with enormous pleasure!
What kind of flute do you play?
I've been playing a wonderful Muramatsu 14k all gold with a head joint built for me by the great Hiroshi Aoki, a jewel!
Thank you to The Flute View for the interview! I hope to come to the United States soon to perform and greet many friends in the new world!