Back a couple years ago I asked several friends to take a trip back down their memory lane and send me a message with their answer to what had made them love music Here’s still two more that I found as I was organizing my old blog posts:

D’Anna Fortunato, mezzo-soprano

I loved music from the beginning when my father would play Opera and symphonic works on the old Victrola.

I started to play the piano at age 3, mimicking the simple music that my older sister was learning – not a great way to endear oneself to one’s sibling! We little girls expressed ourselves with improvised dances to Swan Lake and other ballets and went to many concerts my dad played in as a semiprofessional violinist.

Music was central in our lives and still is in many ways. I’m thankful to my parents, who encouraged all this wonderful madness which still continues to this day!

When I was about eight, I remember hearing “Peter and the Wolf.” It must have been an assembly for the kids in my elementary school. When I was twelve, I started singing in church and studying voice with a local woman who had her master’s degree in piano performance from Ohio University. She had a lot of musical interests, and at each lesson, after the obligatory voice exercises and some language tutoring, she would play something unusual and say “Here’s some West Coast Jazz…take it home and listen … Here’s Don Shirley… ever heard of him?  Here’s a group of 16 trombones and rhythm section playing jazz… Here’s Stan Kenton …”

Geez I was 12! Then I had the great experience of going to Berklee in Boston when I was 16. Some of the older guys “snuck” us in the “Jazz Workshop.” I remember walking down the stairs and hearing the Horace Silver Quintet live… That sound was something I had never heard before… it was so real!

Went to the Newport jazz festival for 2 days and heard Ellington and Stan Getz and Jobim and Gilberto. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be in music, but I was so active with High School choir and band (playing cornet) that it seemed somehow inevitable. So, I applied to several schools and got into CCM.

Once in CCM… then it was a really very important first year… I felt so behind … but I was really good at theory and harmony and managed to survive … I also met David Matthews and began jazz piano with him, and we became friends. He was very important in the jazz scene in Cincy and trusted me to proofread and help copying his charts… I got the writing bug!

Second year in CCM my wonderful theory teacher John Larkin introduced me to the very underrated composer Felix Labunski, who had a big career in Europe before having to escape and come to America. Felix was very encouraging about my compositions… I was about 19 at that point…

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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