Envisioned as an imaginary soundtrack to a non-existent movie, "Black Film" is Giovanni Mancuso's tribute to the long-gone era of black & white cinema. Composed in 2005, it features his Laboratoria Novamusica ensemble, which are heard at the height of their creative prowess. Featuring thirty brief pieces, the piece itself is a concoction of the more obvious written parts with passages that sound like they're thrown over to improvisation. Especially satisfying are brazen trumpet calls courtesy of Ilich Fenzi along with trombone slurs from Umbert de Nigris. When the ensemble blasts into a furious crescendo, there's just no stopping them. From the soft spoken percussion work through to the occasional voices heard throughout the piece, Mancuso tries his best at throwing a genuine movie-like atmosphere at the listeners. Most pleasing are Mancuso's heavy-handed piano passages. With a force of an elephant, he stomps on the keys, while his ensemble returns the challenge in turn. The only drawback is structurally, the record is a bit too cut'n'paste. It nearly feels like someone took a fine knife and cut certain passages out on purpose. Other than that, this is another fine effort from Italian master of modern composition.
- Tom Sekowski - (GAZ-ETA n°44 2006)
Giovanni Mancuso, born in Venice in 1970.
He studied piano with Wally Rizzardo at Conservatorio "Benedetto Marcello " of Venice and graduated in 1992 with a first class honour degree.
He studied at the Corsi di perfezionamento in musica da camera at the Accademia “Incontri col Maestro” in Imola with Dario De Rosa, Maureen Jones and Pier Narciso Masi (first class honour degree) and the Scuola Civica di Milano with Renato Rivolta. Under the guidance of Umberto de Nigris (well known Italian Jazz pioneer) he broadened his knowledge of jazz improvisation and language.
He studies at the Corsi Internazionali di Composizione di Città di Castello (1990 e 1991) and at the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna (1991/92) under the guidance of Salvatore Sciarrino.
He was awarded in the following music composition competitions:
Concorso “G.Briccialdi” (Terni, Italy 1992): first prize
Concorso “Città di Rende” (Rende, Italy 1995): first prize
Concorso Musica Nova 1995 (Bergamo, Italy 1995): first prize and honourable mention
“Biennale dei Giovani Artisti dell’Europa Mediterranea” (Rome, Italy 1994): first ranked for the public performances in Lisbon.
Concorso “Castagneto Carducci” (Livorno, Italy 1992): special honourable mention
Concorso “Contemporanea Neopoiesis” (Palermo, Italy 1994): honourable mention
Premio “Athenaeum N.A.E.” (Rome, Italy 1995): honourable mention
Concorso “Slegalabandiera” (Reggio Emilia, Italy 1996): first prize
“Grieg Memorial Conpetition” (Oslo, Norway 1995): first prize of the audience
“Rockefeller Foundation” (New York, USA 2003): fellowship by the Bellagio Study and Conference Center.
Grand Concours de L’Acadèmie de Lutece (Paris, 2003): medaille de vermeil
“European Association for Jewish Culture” (London – Paris 2003): Grant Award
“Concorso internazionale Orpheus per nuove opere da camera” (Spoleto - Italy - 2006) with “Obra Maestra” inspired to the life of Frank Zappa.
He got commissions from important cultural institutions, among which are:
“Istituzione Sinfonica Abruzzese” - L'Aquila (1996 - Triumphal March for soprano, barytone, voice and orchestra)
“Gran Teatro La Fenice” - Venice (1997 - Recitativo Cantilena for chamber ensemble)
“Biennale Musica” – Venice (2000 and 2001 - Tzimtzum for ensemble, and Qual è la parola for string quartet)
“Associazione Venezia Musica Nuova” and “Peggy Guggenheim Collection” - Venice (1998 - Out of this century for ensemble, in memoriam of Peggy Guggenheim)
“7th International Chime Conference” - Venice (2001 - Stockhausen a Gallipoli, for ensemble and Chinese musicians)
“Biennale Danza” – Venice (Faustus Circus for ensemble, with Carolin Carlson)
“Orchestra Giovanile Italiana” 2002 (Anni 13 di reclusione for orchestra)
“European Association for Jewish Culture” – London-Paris (2003 Alphabet Music, for ensemble and solo voice and sax)
He recorded as a conductor and pianist for RAI (Italia); Norwegian Broadcasting Company; RNE-Madrid, Spain.
His compositions had been boradcasted by Rai Radio 3, Norwegian Broadcasting Company, VPRO (Olanda); Radio Brema, RNE (Spagna) and performed in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, South Africa, Germany, Lebanon, Brasile, in the USA and several music festivals such as Biennale Musica di Venezia; Biennale Danza di Venezia; Festival Aspekte – Salzburg; CDMC Madrid; IV Ciclo de Musica Contemporanea di Vitoria-Gasteiz ecc.
He publishes for Edipan (Roma), CMP (Pescara – Brussels), Wergo, Rai Trade.
Together with other musician In 1991 he founded the “Laboratorio Novamusica”, a contemporary music ensemble with whic he played and conducted in Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Lebanon, Norway. He performed and conducted the world premiers of the works of many composers such as Fabio Nieder, Paolo Furlani, Olga Neuwirth, Luca Mosca, Stefano Bellon, Matteo D’Amico, Mauro Cardi, Renato Rivolta, David Lesser, Betty Olivero ecc.
In 2002 he founded the label recording Galatina Records (distribuited in Berlin by FMP - Free Music Productions) with which he produced five Cds:
“Compressione Dialettica Alla Mente” (2004)
“Black Film” (2005)
“Butch Morris: Conductions 143/1- 143/2” (2007)
He taught at Conservatorio “V.Bellini” of Palermo and Conservatorio “G. Tartini” in Trieste.
He lives in Venice with Cecilia Vendrasco, his wife, and Sara Zohra, his daughter, born the night of the spring solstice!