Mariano Garau, Composer: the voice as orchestra.

The Sardinian composer Mariano Garau, born in 1952, learned from Maestro Rodolfo Cicionesi of Florence, with whom he continued his studies in Harmony and Counterpoint, after having started studying music under the guidance of composer Pietro Allori, Maestro di Cappella of the Iglesias Cathedral, the foundations of what he was then able to develop over time.

The spirituality of a musician who devotes himself above all to sacred music is unshakeable and, as a result, Garau has his own compositional line that stems more from the soul than from listening to other people's music. This is an incontrovertible fact: the composer is original, sensitive, selective, demanding of himself and others, inspired.

His music reflects the man: it is subtly subdued, but only in appearance, revealing to the attentive listener, instead, a whole inner world of remarkable depth, which manages to cross over into the most heartfelt and transcendent spirituality. In short: listening to Mariano Garau's music, one abstracts oneself from the world, immerses oneself above all in prayer, and in this way comes into contact with that mysterious, impalpable and collective spiritual sphere, felt by every sensitive being.

His personal sentiment, therefore, which appears simple, is in reality very complex and is an example of how music, sacred music in particular, can be made today without noise, nor by resorting to inconsistent instruments or skilful amplification, even subtle: what counts for Mariano Garau is the voice.

For him, the human voice becomes a variegated, composite instrument that he can make the performers modulate, harmonise and resonate to the soul like an orchestra. The voice, whether singing solo or in a cappella choir, is the foundation of his music.

In the voice, his favourite instrument, used in polyphonic singing, correctly performed 'in the head', thus endowed with few harmonics, but deliberately fixed and fluty, Garau finds himself and the sap to make his melodies and the evocative harmonies he succeeds in creating sprout. The voice becomes a medium that transcends humanity and flies to touch the Divine, in a compositional and melodic correctness that is entirely personal and never repetitive.

Moreover, as the creator of his own 'style', clearly recognisable to the listener, when Mariano Garau decides, as is often the case, to have the beloved human voice accompanied by musical instruments, the matter is not complicated at all, but unfolds as naturally as he composes for a cappella voice.

An instrumental composition that makes quiet, never solemn melody and elegant, skilfully structured harmony, never preponderant, the winning weapons of his art. Fusing voice and instrumental music is for him a test and at the same time a challenge in which he finds himself successful.

As a choir conductor, Mariano Garau has also cut his teeth in the many years he has worked in this capacity in the past and continues to do so at the present time. However, international interest has deservedly focused on him above all as a composer, leading to his compositions being performed by the best-known choirs and in the most prestigious locations around the world.

In his career he has never had specific assignments as a composer; he owes his notoriety mainly to the www.cpdl.orgwhere scores are downloaded from all over the world, and which has made his compositions popular and widely performed, including 'Ave verum Corpus', 'O Magnum Mysterium', 'Adoro Te devote', 'Christmas Night', 'Stabat Mater', 'Agnus Dei' and many others. Various Italian and foreign choirs have such compositions in their repertoire.

Great satisfaction for the composer was the recording of his 'Stabat Mater' by the 'Pueri Cantores Sancti Nicolai', a prestigious Polish choir.

Other joy, that of being able to hear his 'Ave verum' performed live by the Japanese choir Vox Gaudiosa, a choir that, according to the most accredited critics, achieves vocal perfection. Also satisfying were the recordings of his pieces by the Dutch Ensemble  'Vocaal kwartet Quartz' .

Of great prestige was his composition 'Hildegard von Bingen: Mystical Child' on a libretto by Karen Saillant, starring the treble voices of the International Opera Theater of Philadelphia directed by Saillant herself and the voice of soprano Agnese Pazienti. The concert had its world premiere on 7 August 2015 in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi, and was repeated again in Italy and Philadelphia.

Other performances in China, Australia, America, France, Hungary, Germany, Holland, Spain, Ireland and South Africa denote a reputation now recognised and equally deserved everywhere.

Finally, Mariano Garau came into the writer's life artistically about twenty years ago, with a contact on a site then dedicated to Sacred Music, on which both musical and literary productions to be set to music were posted. This gave rise to pieces set to music on texts specially written by the writer, in Italian and Latin; works of great spiritual suggestion, such as 'Jesu!, Jesu mi in cruce', a cappella, also performed all over the world; as well as numerous solemn chorales and intimist vocal compositions, which are also part of the repertoire of famous international choirs. This professional and friendly partnership has never ceased since then and is still a source of excitement and pride for both of them today.

Natalia Di Bartolo

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