“Now, I live again, and I will keep going…because I believe.” - Alberto Pizzo
There’s a lot to be said about the unbridled influx of foreign musicians flocking to Japan for an excitable taste of the silent mystery, the rustic beauty, the gentle approach, the pampered attention, or the gemlike delicacy of the people and the culture of Japan that leaves every foreign music artist with a relished penchant to return, or an unexpected memory so irresistible and unforgettable. For some artists Japan is a vibrant experience; yet for a young man from Naples, Italy who first landed in Tokyo without assistance, and without sufficient material credentials to back up his musical talent, Japan is more than all of the above —it was destiny.
Alberto Pizzo, a true Neapolitan at heart, has indeed, traveled a long way since his first Tokyo adventure in 2009, daring the Japanese music scene from nothing, without an agent or manager, and spending three months practicing piano at the Tokyo University of the Arts. “At that time, I realized that so many Japanese could play classical piano well—Chopin, Mozart…spending ten hours a day practicing the same music just like everybody else. I had to do something more special from the bottom of my heart, to be my own person. Japan changed my direction in music. In Italy, the music conservatory is very conservative and my piano master was a very famous classic pianist so shifting to another path was not easy,” Alberto recalls his first Japan experience.
Painfully surviving dreary winter nights in a tiny Tokyo apartment, Alberto braved himself, knocking on the doors of music distributors, like Sony, with only his demo music at hand, and walking away with dismay from each rejection. In the next six years, the same music distributor that shunned him away would be Alberto’s greatest supporter. Today, a pledged Yamaha and Sony artist, Alberto and his piano concerts have been captivating Japanese audiences from his native Italy to the Oriental coast, and for Alberto the dream has just begun.
“Since 2009 I have experienced a great change in my career when I started to realize some of my dreams. I remember the long, hectic walks to Sony headquarters, MTV, and Tower Records in Shibuya, Tokyo, which amazingly, after seven years is now selling my new album ‘Memories.’ I always believe in my ability to realize something important with my music. Now, I find myself in a phase where I look back to go forward. My work is definitely still in progress.”
Within three more visits to Japan since his comeback in 2014, Alberto plunged into his most challenging adventure: marriage and family. Now a husband to opera singer Yuki Sunami and father to newborn Leon, Alberto’s new perspective in life has ushered in deeper inspirations and a lofty level of confidence. “I have changed in the past few years; I've matured more, and now my life is richer with more beautiful things both artistically and humanly, like having a son Leon who was born in Japan a few months ago. This incredible event made me believe more strongly than anything is possible. Also, I have to thank my wife Yuki who always supports me in every way. Being a father changes everything but at the same time it doesn't change the core of my focus in life. It is something that makes life even more wonderful and fuller and more real, but also very fierce in some ways because my success is no longer mine—now, it also belongs to those who love me and are near me.”
Having studied music as a child when his family let him listen to music from television cartoons, and play songs on a toy piano, Alberto groomed himself into the music scene, playing in restaurants and clubs for a living in New York in 2011. There he was discovered by actor Michael Douglas, jazz player Daniel Carter, and concurrently started to play with various notable musicians—Martin Ditcham (drummer of Rolling Stones, Sade, Elton John), Pete Shaw (bass player of U2), Harry Bogdanovs (guitarist of Elton John, Westernhagen, John Farnham), Chick Corea and others. Among his recently outstanding collaborations were three stages of the 3 PIANO GENERATIONS concerts with piano virtuosos Luis Bacalov, Stefano Bollani, Danilo Rea and Rita Marcotulli. Alberto relates his marvelous experiences working with the cream of the crop. “Each of these artists impacted me in different ways, but they are all a part of an artistic world that really makes you grow and enrich your life. I was so happy to play with such huge artists and am always prepared to start new collaborations.”
Alberto’s third album Memories is an enchanting repertoire of self-arranged classics and original compositions recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London. The heart-warming tunes are tender and sensitive, and at the same time fuse with energetic rhythms, always clouding over soft melodic influences from sweet Neapolitan songs. “Comparing Memories to my other albums is not easy. Memories is totally different from my first record Funambulist or my second one On The Way. At the same time, it is another piece of a puzzle within my dream. It is a journey of my artistic life, and in many ways it is Alberto Pizzo linked to the classical roots, but with a crossover mood and one goal: to be yourself.” One special track in the album is Miyabi, a song inspired by his sojourn in Kyoto about two years ago. “In Kyoto, I felt the essence of the Japanese culture and the importance of art that pays attention to every detail. I was so struck by Zen-inspired gardens, the kimono, tea ceremony, and other aspects of the Japanese culture. My family is half –Japanese, and Memories and Miyabi are ways to tell this cross-culture in my music. I really hope this message reaches everyone who listens to the song.”
Apart from his exciting new album, Alberto will also appear in a very special Japan NHK TV documentary in July that will introduce the splendid city of his hometown Napoli, his music inspirations and visions as expressed by his mind and heart. “This documentary fills my heart with pride, I can't wait to see the impact it will have in Japan. Representing Napoli through my life is something so grand I cannot even begin to explain it. It's a great step towards a dream I've always had. I was so fascinated to work with NHK, and I am looking forward to know what everyone would think of it!”
Never hesitating to spree from one escapade to another, Alberto will also be releasing his first book, Il Viaggio di Alberto Pizzo - Un piano segreto —a journey through his life and art that shall focus on the central theme, "Anything is possible, just believe in yourself." It will be out in Italy in June and hopefully overseas as well.
Since I met Alberto for the first time in 2014, I have witnessed with much delight a young man whose passion for living bursts with consistent drive and motivation. His vivacious musical arrangements breathe his artistic philosophy—to Believe—and his unique persona to transcend beyond orthodox methods makes him a music master of the future. “My dream as a musician is to reach everyone's ears and hearts! It will be so great to touch everyone with my compositions, my piano performances and my way to represent Italy and Naples with its rustic melodies and passionate style. My philosophy in life remains the same: ‘Anything is Possible. Believe.’ Simply believe in yourself that something always grand is about to happen.”
With special gratitude to Palco Reale.