Andrea Valeri, Italian guitarist
Following on its success last year, Tony Cox’s International Guitar Night (IGN) now brings audiences the outrageous talents of Italian acoustic guitar prodigy Andrea Valeri for a limited season at the Olympia Bakery in Kalk Bay. In keeping with the youthful element of International Guitar Night, Richard Onraët, a young South African acoustic guitarist, will join Cox when he opens for Valeri. Tony Cox tells Steyn du Toit why he thinks these two musicians are worth a see.
What is Tony Cox’s International Guitar Night and what did we miss last year?
International Guitar Night is a series of concerts held bi-annually (winter and summer) and its express purpose is to bring the world’s greatest guitarists to South African audiences. Last December the unbelievable guitar skills of Antonio Forcione were unleashed on an unsuspecting audience and this December we have the precocious and jaw-dropping guitar-playing of Andrea Valeri, all of twenty years old.
How would you describe Valeri’s music to someone with very little guitar knowledge? What makes him unique?
Well, firstly, the man is not much more than a boy, yet seems to have packed 40 years of guitar playing into his 20-year-old frame! Whether you know anything or nothing about guitar-playing, Andrea’s sheer vivacity on stage, his seemingly effortless yet awesome guitar-playing and his bubbling enthusiasm guarantee that any listener will be transfixed. Using a combination of self-penned and snappy covers all delivered in impeccable finger style where the right-hand fingers work to weave a tapestry of sound with counterpointing bass lines, melody lines, rhythm and percussion all at the same time, Andrea grabs any audience from the first note and doesn’t let go till the last.
Where did you first encounter Andrea and what was it about his music that first appealed to you?
I first met Andrea at an international guitar festival in Italy in 2009. I was invited to perform there and got to watch several of the other acts. When Andrea came on stage he was like a breath of fresh air and I was blown away by not only his professionalism but the degree to which he had already perfected his playing style; that combined with his general warmth and humour on the stage, is killer ...
Where can we hear some of his music? Does he have a web page, YouTube channel?
How will the Olympia Bakery be transformed to accommodate for the concert?
The charm of the Olympia Bakery is that it is actually, during the day, a fully functioning bakery. Not too many years ago it was a music venue and before that it used to be an old cinema that I attended as a child. So there is a lot of space. We simply push all the machines to one side, do a general clean-up, put out the chairs and hang a black curtain ... then we bring in sound and lighting and voila!
Which other musicians will be sharing the stage with Andrea?
Another precocious 21-year-old South African acoustic guitarist, Richard Onraet. By age 15 Richard had already made his way through my, Doyle Dykes’s and Tommy Emmanuel’s (both giants on the world stage) entire repertoire, which gives you a fair idea that this guy is, by any world standard, a brilliant guitarist. The bringing together of these two young yet exceptional players from different parts of the world is tremendously exciting for me. And of course yours truly, my good self, will be there too.
Where can more information be obtained and tickets booked?
The season is on from Friday to Sunday, 9 to 18 December at 8:00 pm. For more information, or to book tickets, visit www.computicket.com or call 08619158000.