World-renowned Italian mandolinist Carlo Aonzo is coming to Ketchum tonight, June 19, for an exclusive concert with his eponymous trio.
The group will debut their new album, “Mandolitaly,” at the Argyros Performing Arts Center. According to Aonzo, this performance will act as the world premiere of the trio’s sophomore album.
“It’s the first time we’re ever presenting songs from ‘Mandolitaly,’ so it’s a very important concert for us,” he said. “We will start our album tour with Ketchum.”
Aonzo has dedicated decades to honing his craft, emerging as one of the most celebrated and revered mandolinists on the planet. His expertise has garnered him countless accolades and awards, generated several albums and landed him concert engagements throughout Europe, the United States, Canada and East Asia.
Among his most recent landmark achievements was a December 2018 performance in New York’s iconic Carnegie Hall.
“That was my first time performing at Carnegie Hall, and it was a big deal for me, very exciting,” Aonzo said.
Prior to his performance in Ketchum, Aonzo has been leading a mandolin workshop in Milwaukee. The self-titled workshop series in Wisconsin is now in its 19th year. The four-day workshop brings together intermediate and experienced mandolinists by the dozens from all across the North American continent.
This annual event embodies what Aonzo identifies as one of the single most important components of musical engagement: education. In addition to his achievements as a performer, Aonzo has distinguished himself as one of the leading authorities on mandolin history, technique and theory, as well as the rich musical legacy of Italy.
This aspect of his professional personality will play into his performance at the Argyros, as he feels strongly that an understanding of how a musical form developed greatly enhances a listener’s appreciation.
“It’s hugely important to be aware of this history,” he said. “I grew up in a musical family. My father played the mandolin, so it came naturally to me.”
Playing the mandolin in northern Italy, Aonzo learned a great deal of Italian folk music before formally studying classical mandolin styles. Naming the likes of Vivaldi and Mozart, he pointed to a vast “treasury of pieces originally written for mandolins” by the great classical composers, but he considers those on equal footing with folk traditions.
His repertoire touches upon those and any other genre where the mandolin makes appearances. The trio’s first album, “A Mandolin Journey,” explores mandolin-playing throughout time, across genres and around the world, including jazz tracks, Celtic folk music and American bluegrass.
“Mandolitaly” focuses on Italy. Musical historians—including Aonzo—trace the mandolin’s origins to that country, and in particular Naples, where it evolved from the lute family in the 17th and 18th centuries.
His concert at the Argyros will include anecdotes and stories, enriching the music with fascinating details and providing Aonzo an opportunity to engage with his audience in his signature charismatic style.
Joining him on stage will be guitarist Lorenzo Piccone and bassist Luciano Puppo. Together, the Carlo Aonzo trio represents the best of Italy’s vibrant musical traditions.
In addition to its regular banked seating, the Argyros will be offering a cabaret-style setup in front of the stage, with tables of four selling for $250. Tickets for tiered seating are $40. Visit theargyros.org for details.