Barbara Luisi was, no is, a violinist, but her passion for photography has taken over and her hobby has become her major activity. Though she begun studying the violin at 9 in her home town, Munich, she also started photography at a relatively young age, experimenting with her first Leica at 17.
Luisi worked with orchestras such as the Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre du Capitol de Toulouse, Bayerische Staatsoper and was also first violinist in the Pocci String Quartet. It was music that brought her together with her husband, orchestra director Fabio Luisi, while she was playing with the Munich Opera Orchestra, an encounter which was, as she says, “very romantic, without words, only music…”
This in turn brought her to Italy. She now makes her home in Camogli, a small fishing port on the Ligurian coast just south of Genoa, a place of natural beauty that inspired her latest collection of photos. However the appointment of husband Fabio as Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in September 2011, and hotly tipped to take over from James Levine as Musical Director, has given her a new home in New York.
These places are opposites! New York full of energy and the centre of inspiration makes me feel vibrations, and the urge of going forward, trying to push my limits. Camogli on the other hand is an inspiration as place of peace and quietness, aspro e dolce nello stesso tempo…, [bitter and sweet at the same time…] the sea is its pulse and I can hear the sea even lying in my bed. So both places are like my own heart beat!
Finding inspiration on the beaches of Camogli led to an exhibition, “Pearls: Tears of the Sea”, at the Rose Studio, in the Lincoln Center Plaza 10 days ago; and as if to balance her life's energies, Barbara Luisi will be newly exhibiting these photos in Camogli itself from April 7.
The idea came to me on the seashore at Camolgli after a night during which the waves roared in and a wild storm raged. Next morning I went for a walk along the churned-up beach and I was amazed. So much had been washed up on the beach: wood, seaweed, sea urchins, all kinds of flotsam. I took off the pearl I was wearing round my neck and laid it among all those mysterious treasures that had been revealed by the sea. It seemed as if it had always belonged there. Queen of the spume. The project was born.
For two years Luisi photographed pearls on the beach and underwater, having to perfect a balancing technique to keep her still in the sea's currents as she photographed the compositions. The results can be seen in the exhibition and in the book. A book which, intriguingly for a photography book, contains a CD of classical music.
There is of course a very profound relation between my work as a musician and my work as a photographer. The concentration for that irretrievable moment; being able to combine emotion and technique and timing, important elements for both , the violinist and the photographer.
In “Pearls, Tears of the Sea” I combine Music and Photography for the first time. In my exhibition in Camogli (fondazione Remotti) the CD fo my book will be continuously played in one room, lieder about a pearl, that fell into the sea, which I produced and recorded in Vienna with friends Jane Henschel, Christoph Prégardien, Herbert Lippert and others… and Fabio at the piano.
Maestro Luisi accompanying his wife in more ways than one.
Fabio is making a wonderful career as a conductor, he is a musician with all his heart. We support each other as much as we can, we talk a lot about music, I try to be in as many of his performances as possible, he relies on me as an independent adviser.
I, on the other hand tell him about my ideas and projects, I show him first my new prints. He is always curious and helps me with his ideas. However, these are two very different worlds, the music world and the visual arts world, so we sometimes have to pay attention to separate the two things carefully!
From April 7, 2012 her exhibition “Pearls, Tears of the Sea” will be presented in the museum Fondazione Remotti, Camogli, Italy
“Pearls, Tears of the Sea” is printed by Böhlau Books
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.