He has lost count of how many times he has heard conductors pronounce the now cult phrase in front of the cameras: “Maestro Beppe Vessicchio conducts the orchestra”. After all, the Neapolitan maestro, born in 1956, is an institution at the Sanremo Festival. Under the stage of the Ariston, the most famous and pop Italian conductor accompanied – among others – Elio e le Storie Tese, Avion Travel, Valerio Scanu, Roberto Vecchioni, Patty Pravo. At Sanremo 2024 Beppe Vessicchio will not be on the conductors’ podium, and in this interview he explains why, also telling some anecdotes and background on his many participations in the event.
Did none of the big names look for it?
“I did not participate in any of the productions that were proposed to Amadeus and that Amadeus instinctively identified as necessary for the event. Once upon a time, record companies tried to have a contact person who would talk to the orchestra, possibly an expert. Today he is no longer indispensable.”
What it means?
“For too long there has no longer been the preparation that was once required. Before, the recording industry invested. And the investments were huge. We had to make the right choices. If you called an incompetent director, at the end of the day you found yourself having spent a lot of money without having obtained a valid result”.
What do you expect on a musical level from this Sanremo Festival?
“I do not know. I haven’t heard anything yet. But the trend, in general, I understand is: ‘Get it now’”.
“Success that tend to materialize immediately and are not long-lasting”.
However, Amadeus pointed out that as artistic director he chose to bring current music to the Ariston, trying to make the songs live even after the Festival week. The numbers prove him right: of the 22 songs competing last year, 28 obtained at least one certification.
“If the comparison is between the Amadeus Festivals and those immediately preceding them, Amadeus is right. He carried out a commendable operation, in this respect”.
And what did he do wrong instead?
“On paper it seems to me that the share of tradition is a bit low compared to that of innovation. Amadeus has identified where to look for new shares and has also valorised them. But I believe that a Festival must take into account more things, more proposals: a few more elements of the so-called tradition could have brought it about”.
There will be a lot of dancing this year.
“It’s because the market no longer welcomes songs other than uptempo.”
How many festivals have you conducted as an orchestra conductor?
“28. The first in 1990: I accompanied two great artists such as Mia Martini and Mango, competing respectively with ‘La nevicata del ’56’ and ‘Tu… Sì’”.
The funniest festival?
“The one from ‘La terra dei cachi’ with Elio and the Storie Tese. It was 1996. They told me: ‘We want to finish last’. On the evening in which the competing singers had to perform just one minute of their song, they found a sensational expedient to circumvent the rules.”
“They played the song at triple speed: the law made, the deception found. In the end they came second.”
How many Festivals have you won?
“Four. In 2000 with ‘Sentimento’ by Avion Travel, in 2003 with ‘Per dire di no’ by Alexia, in 2010 with ‘Per tutte le tempi che’ by Valerio Scanu and in 2011 with ‘Chiamami ancora amore’ by Vecchioni. With Roberto it was the most emotional victory: a simple song triumphed, which spoke about current events but did so with a delicacy and touching sensitivity. He won the televoting against Modà and Emma: practically Rtl and the Canale 5 talents. A powerful action”.
The most bitter Festival?
“The one from 2010. Pupo and Emanuele Filiberto finished on the podium. The audience disagreed. Antonella Clerici said that the turnaround was attributable to the votes of the orchestra and the teachers. But it wasn’t true. The musicians protested by throwing the scores on the stage: a bitter page in the history of the event”.