comments (9)

Music is a Language

Northern Italy Countryside

This is the first in our soon to be regular recorded discussions on art and the art life.  The below was recorded at Addis Restaurant in Cambridge Massachusetts over wine and dinner. We hope you enjoy it!

Robert: We are at an Ethiopian Restaurant in Cambridge. What’s the name of this Restaurant? It’s called Addis. I think it is a really great restaurant for everyone to check out because it’s a cultural experience which is what you want to have when you go somewhere to eat. You don’t want just good food you want the experience.

Ksenia: That’s right you want the Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant. And to say you are right you would say,”Hai ragione Roberto!”

Robert: So that’s a little Italian. So this is our first little art talk.

Ksenia: Hai ragione.

Robert: So my first question would be, you’ve been studying Italian for quite some time now. A couple of years. Ever since you went to Italy you fell in love with it right?

Ksenia: Well, I started studying before we went to Italy in 2002. I started studying about 6 months before we went.

Robert: I would imagine that the reason you started loving the language is because I’m Italian?

Ksenia: Yeah! Actually Robert it is because you are Italian, because I was going with you and your mom and she was going to seek out her relatives there and I didn’t want to be a Ukrainian that couldn’t speak Italian. I am Russian descent.

Robert: Hence your name.

Ksenia: Right, Hence I thought I have to speak Italian. So I started then. But I was not very successful. Do you remember those people laughing at me when I tried to get a bus? Those were bad, dark days.

Robert: Learning a language can be fun, some people can think it is kinda grueling. What does it have to do with art? That’s the question. What’s the art life have to do with learning a language?

(clinking of wine classes)

Ksenia: The art life is learning a language because music is a language and one of the things I felt was so parallel to my student’s learning music was my learning a language. Because like music a language is never done. You never sit there and say, “ok I’m done now.” And music is the same thing. Music is a language. By studying Italian I get new ideas for teaching.

Robert: It’s a parallel study.

Ksenia: It is a parallel study. I get new ideas for teaching guitar. (looking out the window) Hey, I just saw a cornflower car go by, it was a Volkswagon Beetle and one of my art ideas is if everyone had bright colored cars a traffic jam would look like an easter egg basket.

Robert: It would be a good picture.       (pause)         The point where you really turned the corner on it is when you played those two Italian songs at my art exhibit at Rolly-Michaux which was of Italian pictures. You really put it together there.

Gondola photograph by Robert Castagna

Ksenia: You made me turn the corner. (another clinking of glasses) I was listening to so much Italian music and working so hard on Italian. That was after our second trip. You really put it to me when you said, “Now can you play two songs at my opening?” I was like, “Yeah. I really really want to.” Because I knew I was listening to so much music it was starting to bubble up. I knew I could do it.

Robert: It bubbled out of you. We had the Italian Consulate there and the cultural director. And then, I think where it really came together was when you put on a show at Johnny D’s with the Porch Party Mamas. What’s the name of that song?

Ksenia: It’s actually called the “La La Song”.

Robert: The “La La Song”.

Ksenia: By Giorgia.

Robert: You guys did that awesome. Of course the “La La Song” by Giorgia is awesome!

Ksenia: About a year ago Felicia asked me during sound check, “We need to do one of your Italian songs.” That was about 6 months after I had done the art gallery for you. I was thrilled. I was like, “Please let’s do an Italian song!” So when we started to break apart for part rehearsals I got Jane and Felicia behind those Italian songs. The way they created the musical bed is just out of this world. They really took it to a new level.

Robert: It’s a great presentation. And the way you sang it with those gestures.

Ksenia: Mm, Mm, Mm, Mm, Roberto.

Robert: We’ll have to include a link to Giorgia’s video.

Ksenia: She’s a lot sexier. I mean, you know. One can only wish.

Robert: It’s a great song. It’s a great song.


We recommend the following links:

Giorgia’s “La La Song” video

Porch Party Mamas Website

Italian Pictures from Robert Castagna show at Rolly-Michaux Gallery

Ksenia’s guitar teaching webpage

Addis Red Sea Restaurant