Violin virtuoso Luca Ciarla, our new friend from Italy, performs a very special solo violin concert on Thursday, September 27 at 7:30 in Via Umbria’s Galleria. Tickets are $40 but the experience, as I hope you will agree if you read below, is priceless. You can purchase your tickets here.
Four weeks ago my newest Italian friends arrived at Dulles Airport direct from Rome. On that flight were the artist Keziat and violin virtuoso Luca Ciarla together with their precious cargo of artwork, violin and other musical instruments and an even more precious article, their six year old son Milo. How they came to join us at Via Umbria for the opening of Keziat’s art exhibition Introspective and a dinner and violin performance by Luca the following night, and how we forged our new friendship is pretty much the story of Via Umbria. And it serves as reminder of why we love doing the things we do.
Luca Ciarla was introduced to me by a customer friend of ours, Maria, who saw him perform a concert at the Italian Embassy in Washington a few years back. Maria raved about Luca’s virtuosity and avant garde, multidisciplinary musical style. She offered to put us in touch with each other by email so I did a little investigative work, using my best Googling skills. The first hit was a YouTube video of Luca performing Bella Ciao at the Rhino Jazz Festival in 2014. I watched, and listened to, and was subsumed by the six minute video of the soloist bobbing and contorting as if in the throes of ectasy, bowing and picking and drumming to electronic tracks he had recorded live in front of the audience, the musical texture building and thickening with each added loop. The piece itself, a workers’ solidarity anthem meant to inspire patriotic zeal among the proletariat was, in Luca’s hands, a haunting release of the most sublime emotional connective tissue between instrument and performer and audience, mesmerizing and immobilizing me like the cartoon hound who smells the fresh baked pie sitting on the window sill, levitated and gently wafted toward the source in a trancelike state of pure contentment. As Luca built the layer of sound atop layer, the emotional power of the music began to crest like a wave until he reached a final, virtuoso climax. In six short minutes, I was hooked. This man was going to become my friend.
When I responded to Maria’s email introducing Luca and me, I instinctively knew where this was heading. Luca and I began negotiating an agreement that would bring him to Via Umbria, an agreement that pretty much said, you come, we’ll figure out what we’ll do and who will get what. We had a complete meeting of the minds. All that was missing were all the details.
One crucial detail was Luca’s partner, Keziat. As I was to discover, there was another piece to this relationship, an immensely talented artist in Keziat, a woman who creates a world of fantasy on canvass, using only ballpoint pen. She would be, I thought – and I was exactly right – a perfect addition to Via Umbria’s art gallery space. Her show Introspective is on display in the Galleria through the end of the week. It has been a pleasure to surround ourselves with her brilliant work.
The Tuesday before the Gallery opening Luca and Keziat arrived in Washington, pulling up in front of Via Umbria a little before dinner time. Over the previous couple of months I had invested so much psychic energy in organizing the art exhibition, the special dinner with the artists (complete with violin performance) and a closing concert that it was hard to believe we had never actually met one another. So there we were, face to face for the first time. Luca, Keziat, Milo and me. Although I was awed by their immense talent, in an instant I knew this was a relationship that was going to work.
Over the next days, as they installed Keziat’s exhibition, practiced and did sound and equipment checks and played with their irascible six year old in our cafe, they seemed less like new friends than old friends. The opening reception came and went, with a shy Keziat quietly impressing the dozens of guests who came to see her work and to listen to Luca play. The phenomenal Dinner with the Artists allowed us to see how opening and inviting the couple was, and how much they loved the cooking of our Chef Liam! And so, after our few intense days together they departed Washington, Keziat and Milo bound for Rome and Luca to parts west, where he has spent the past weeks performing with his quartet in the US, Canada and Central America.
Luca returns to Washington on Thursday evening for a special concert at Via Umbria. Our front window loudly proclaims “First we eat. Then we do everything else” because we have discovered the Italians’ secret of using food as a way to build bonds of friendship and community. What I have found from my whirlwind friendship with Luca, Keziat and Milo, is that art that is personal, that is from the heart and shared for the simple sake of sharing can build the same kinds of lasting bonds that we have discovered through our travels to Italy and in our building of Via Umbria.
I invite you to join me on Thursday for a special live, solo concert by Luca Ciarla and discover this for yourself.
Ci vediamo giovedì,
Bill and Suzy