Pianist Pasquale Cirillo, representing Neapolitan Song Worldwide 

Is there still a need for a representative of Neapolitan song on a global scale? Perhaps, at first glance, we are inclined to say no. Neapolitan song has always been successful worldwide. Anyone traveling abroad and starting to sing ‘O Sole mio or ‘O surdato ‘nnammurato knows well that they will have a chorus ready to back them up, no matter the country.  

However, there are still individuals who are actively working on the authentic promotion of true Neapolitan song Worldwide. Pasquale Cirillo is one such example, who, with tenacity and determination, has been promoting Neapolitan song for years, both abroad, even reaching Japan, and by creating a concert hall in his hometown of Naples, attracting people from all corners of the globe. 

But why invest in promoting Neapolitan song worldwide? Why create SEA and YOU, an itinerant music festival that brings together Neapolitan song, Portuguese fado, and flamenco in three different cities: Naples, Granada, and Porto? 

The answer is simple: because these traditional music genres are loved worldwide, and we can never have enough of them. Music should be spread through every possible means. It’s the philological and artistic work of a pianist who is fighting to give Neapolitan song the recognition it truly deserves. 

SEA and YOU takes Neapolitan song across Europe

The festival represents a unique opportunity where classical Neapolitan song, flamenco, and fado will share the same stage with professional artists from these three styles. The miracle achieved by Napulitanata, CajaGranada, and Ideal Fado is a true testament to music.  
It’s a chance to reaffirm the European values upon which this festival was founded (discussed here) and a way to freely circulate, with a philological and artistic approach, the three great traditional music styles of the Mediterranean region throughout Europe. 

Among the festival organizers stands a Neapolitan pianist who has been on a personal mission for years: to introduce authentic Neapolitan song to the world, as it is, without frills or embellishments. Let’s see together what this wonderful artist is doing to celebrate Neapolitan song worldwide. His is a story of courage, love for music, extensive study, and passion. A story that starts in the city of Naples and spreads worldwide. 

A mission: to make Neapolitan song known Worldwide

It’s certainly not easy to become a pianist in Naples, but if there’s one thing that’s evident today, it’s that Pasquale Cirillo has achieved it. Not only that, but after founding, along with accordionist Domenico Matania, the first and only permanent venue in Naples for classical Neapolitan song, Cirillo’s work has increasingly taken him abroad, where he has contributed to spreading the sounds of his magnificent homeland. 

Naples is teeming with immensely talented artists who are born and raised with music in their blood. The world’s greatest pianists have passed through the city, and they have all left indelible marks on those who aspire to become pianists in Naples. 

For those who want to become pianists in Naples today, there’s the opportunity to study in a place steeped in music and art: the San Pietro a Majella Conservatory. Many pianists have studied there, from Paisiello to Riccardo Muti, and now Maestro Pasquale Cirillo. He entered the conservatory at a young age and immediately stood out for his impeccable technique and courage in exploring hitherto uncharted repertoires, such as the sounds of the Neapolitan tradition. To make Neapolitan song known worldwide, Cirillo operates on two fronts: working tirelessly in Naples, a city that welcomes tourists from all over the world, and performing concerts worldwide, such as his tours in Japan and the upcoming SEA and YOU festival, which will take him to Granada and Porto. 

Playing classical Neapolitan song in Naples. Napulitanata and PianoCityNapoli

Pasquale Cirillo’s kingdom is his permanent venue, Napulitanata. In 2015, along with Domenico Matania (interviewed here), he decided to transform a meter deposit owned by the city of Naples into a concert hall. An incredible undertaking that involved bureaucracy and challenges but succeeded magnificently. 

 In a few years, Napulitanata established itself as the true center of classical Neapolitan song in Naples.  

French, English, German, Polish, and Japanese visitors all come to Napulitanata to experience classical Neapolitan song as it should truly be performed.  

In Naples, Cirillo has become the artist who thinks most deeply about classical Neapolitan song without ever distorting it, without ever separating it from its true sounds, without adding characteristics that do not suit it.  

The experiences of PianoCityNapoli 2020, PianoCityNapoli 2022, and PianoCityNapoli 2023 confirm this.  

The mission is to take Neapolitan song everywhere, whether abroad or in Naples, to introduce the music of Naples to everyone, including Neapolitans (but do Neapolitan people listen to classical Neapolitan Song? Find out here!).  

Intrecci with Neapolitan song and high music worldwide. In Japan and Europe

Pasquale Cirillo has two souls: the classical one inherited from his many years of study at the conservatory, and the popular one from his love for his native Naples.  
Both souls converge in Cirillo in a perfect synthesis, where precision, technique, and creative genius merge in the successes of many concert evenings, where the knowledge of classical Neapolitan song finds its home in Napulitanata. His album Intrecci is the perfect synthesis of his work: combining the repertoire of Neapolitan song with music from all over the world, be it the music of Bach or songs from fado and flamenco. Merging the wonderful sounds of the Neapolitan tradition with other traditions to demonstrate the universality of music. All this without creating an impure blend of different art forms but by discovering melodies that can harmonize, like the fusion of ‘O Sole mio and Bach’s Prelude in G Major, or by juxtaposing different traditional music, highlighting both their differences and commonalities, like the melancholy in Neapolitan song and fado

The goal of the Neapolitan pianist is, and always will be, to make Neapolitan song known to everyone, to share the sounds that define it, the beauty of its notes, and the rigor of its scores. 

His journey to Tokyo (full story here) is the realization of this magnificent adventure, starting from a venue in Naples and then reaching the Far East, and now arriving in Granada on November 11th and Porto on February 17th. 

Don’t miss any of the news about the SEA and YOU festival. The event in Granada is coming up soon. CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE TICKETS. 

By Davide Lancia