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London, 2020

During this interview, I change seat, place myself in front of another artist and ask him the questions I wish people asked me. Today, I speak to American composer and pianist Glenn Natale, who has just released his debut album, Follow the Pines


Glenn, tell us a little bit about yourself.


I am forty-three years old, and live in New Jersey with my fiancé and daughter, and I have a son too. By day, I work for the local gas company as a heavy equipment operator, and at night I am a composer. I hope to one day be able to compose full-time: music is my absolute passion.


Now, what about Follow the Pines? Tell us about your latest project.


Follow the Pines was inspired by my trips out in the western United States. We have beautiful mountains and forests. I have done a lot of backpacking through there and have taken in some beautiful scenery. I have had some really profound moments which I tried to capture in my compositions on the album.


It seems that there are a lot more musical ideas in each of your pieces than is usually the case with contemporary classical — some of them being almost romantic. Can you give us an insight on how you compose?


I like to utilize uncommon structures and flourishes that reflect the emotions that I am feeling: my music is my own way of sharing my emotions with the listener. I experience a wide range of emotions at the same time and my intention is to convey that with my compositions. Improvisation is such an important part of how I compose because of this; I will let my feelings flow through me into my compositions. What I am playing enhances my feelings and I will build off of that progression to form a solid composition. 


Who are the current musicians that inspire you?


I am inspired by a number of musicians: right now, I really enjoy the works of Jesse Brown, Jacob LaVallee and Peter Cavallo. I am also inspired by musicians like Nick Cave and The Band. 


Music has never been so universal. While there used to be national identities, it seems to nowadays fade to eclecticism. How do you think your American culture influences how you compose music?


What I love about American culture is that it truly is a melting pot of many cultures. I have been influenced by some of the greatest American contemporary classical composers of my time, such as Phillip Glass and Dustin O’Halloran. I have never really felt far away from other cultures because I feel that America has given me access to a myriad of cultures. 


Tell us about an instrument that you would want to compose for?


I would love to compose for the cello; I really enjoy listening to a well-played cello and piano composition. 


So, after Follow the Pines, what’s next?


My next project will be an EP that I am working on called To Wander Alone. The pieces on it will be inspired by my feelings of loneliness in a crowded world. 


Thanks very much Glenn. Last one for the road — one book, one album, one film — tell us about your latest cultural pearls?


Book: No Man Is an Island by Thomas Merton; album: Phillip Glass’ Etudes for Piano Vol. 1, No.1-10; film: The Talented Mr. Ripley.


Bouncing on Glenn’s words; Glass’ Etudes for Piano are indeed a fantastic set of pieces and an insight into the musical personality of one of the most influential composers of our times. Read my review of Follow the Pines.

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