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From Calabria to Boston: Pianist Moira Lo Bianco

A native of Calabria, Moira Lo Bianco came to Boston in 2011 after earning a scholarship for Berklee College of Music.

Now, after more than two years here, the classically trained pianist is getting ready to release her debut album, “Lunaria,” which is a collection of 13 deeply personal and heartfelt tracks, including 11 original compositions. We recently sat down with Lo Bianco, who told us all about her new CD, what she loves about the piano and why she believes that “the beauty of a chord change will save the world.”

Moira Lo Bianco

Moira Lo Bianco (photo by Armando Grillo)

Briana Palma: You started playing piano at a very young age. Where did that passion come from?

Moira Lo Bianco: In my family there are no musicians; I am the only one. When I was a child I loved playing music in general, so my parents gave me this toy piano for my fifth birthday. I started playing and I never stopped.

BP: What do you love about the piano?

MLB: I think the piano is my boyfriend. I have a physical relationship with the piano. … I just love this guy. And it took me a long time to understand — I’m not joking — that the piano is an object. Really for me, it was only five years of my life that I was without piano. It becomes everything: your best friend, your boyfriend, your family, your psychologist. Everything.

BP: Why were you drawn to the piano rather than another instrument?

MLB: I think it was by chance. They gave me that instrument and then from there I just found that sound interesting. I think every instrument has a personality. So if you approach the piano, you have a completely different color than a flute player, for example, because every instrument has a personality, has a character, has a story. I think you just have to choose what fits you the most.

BP: Why does piano fit you?

MLB: First of all it’s the approach. … The left hand, it can do everything: rhythm, harmony, whatever. With the right hand, you can explore other stuff. So the combination of these two really gives you all the elements: rhythm, harmony and melody. And then also when you write music and arrange, the range of the piano is very high. You can go from the lower register, which for example is for double bass or cello, to the soprano part, which can be flute, sax soprano, violin, etcetera. It’s like having a rainbow under your hands.

BP: You’ve said that your time at Berklee was the most inspiring of your life. Why?

Moira Lo BiancoMLB: Berklee is a dream for a musician. I had been in the conservatory, so I grew up in a place where there is only classical music. Classical music is the best thing in the world. It teaches you the concept of beauty, but at the same time, also to be strict with yourself, to have discipline. … When you arrive at Berklee, you have so many options, it’s like a supermarket and you can choose whatever you want. You have rock, pop, classical, contemporary, arrangements class, compositions class, improvisations, and also all the world music … . And then — this is the most important thing — for me Berklee is a family. The support that I had from teachers, chairs, staff, it’s unbelievable.

BP: Now you’re getting ready to release your debut album, Lunaria. What was the inspiration for that?

MLB: Lunaria is this little leaf that I think is the most beautiful thing in the world. In my imagination, it’s made of a kind of silk, but because it’s so delicate, she — for me, she’s a girl — needs to defend herself from the world, so she develops this little stem at the end just to say, ‘Don’t touch me.’ Not because she’s unfriendly, it’s just because she’s so delicate. She’s made of silk so she needs to protect herself from the world.

Also, on the album there is “Signuri,” which is a tribute to my roots because I grew up signing and dancing the traditional music of Calabria … . And then there is of course the classical music, but how I think about it, so with improvisation and with my own personality. There is also jazz. I really wanted to put these three elements together: Calabria, classical music, jazz music. And then, Middle Eastern music, because here I met this amazing musician, Simon Shaheen, and I really fell in love with this culture and this concept of music.

BP: Did you record in Boston?

MLB: Yes. Actually, it’s a Berklee family product. The producer, Alain Mallet, and the two musicians, Bruno Råberg and Macello Pelliteri, they are professors at Berklee. We recorded in this amazing studio that is a former Masonic temple, Futura studio. The experience was great. We just went in the studio for one afternoon.

BP: You also use your music to support the Massachusetts Citizens for Children’s Enough Abuse campaign. Why?

MLB: I really believe that one day the beauty of a chord change will save the world. This phrase for me is really important. Can you imagine if each of us — young people, intellectuals, people who have a voice — support a cause that is important for social change? We really can change the world.

Moira Lo Bianco will perform a number of concerts at Brewer Plaza this month. For details, visit www.moiralobianco.com.

About Briana Palma

Briana Palma is a writer and editor who splits her time between Boston and Dublin, Ireland. Her work focuses on travel, art and lifestyle, and as an Italian-American, she especially enjoys writing about all things Italy. Briana's work has appeared in a number of print and digital publications, including Italy Magazine, the Sunday Business Post Magazine, Outsider and U.S. Airways. For more information, visit www.brianapalma.com.

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