Luciano Chessa is a composer, conductor, audiovisual and performance artist, music historian. His performance of "intensely visual scores" in a concert he curated for NYC's Roulette last December, has been named "gripping" by The New York Times' chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini. Chessa's compositions include Cromlech, a large organ piece he premiered in Melbourne’s Town Hall in May 2018 as part of a solo organ recital that received over 2,200 ticket bookings; the opera Cena oltranzista nel castelletto al lago—a work merging experimental theater with reality TV which required from the cast over 55 hours of fasting—and A Heavenly Act, an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with original video by Kalup Linzy.
Chessa has been commissioned multiple times by the Performa Biennial, and in 2014 he presented three events at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as part of the exhibition Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe. Chessa’s work appeared more than once in Artforum, Flash Art, Art in America, and Frieze; and has been featured in the Italian issue of Marie Claire and in the September Issue of Vogue Italia. He has been interviewed twice by the British BBC, and has been the subject of two short documentaries: one produced by RAI World (2014), and the other by Vietnamese State TV VTV1 in the occasion of his first trip to Viet Nam (2015).
Chessa is also a music historian specializing in 20th-century Italian and 21st-century American repertoire. He is the author of Luigi Russolo Futurist. Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult (2012), the first book dedicated to Russolo and his “Art of Noise.” In 2009, his Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners (OFNI) was hailed by the New York Times as one of the best events of the year; Chessa has conducted this project across the USA and internationally to sold out houses including RedCat in Los Angeles, the New World Center in Miami, Radial System / Maerzmusik-Berliner Festspiele, the ArtScience Museum in Singapore, and Lisbon’s Municipal Theater. With this project he collaborated with the likes of Joan La Barbara, Mike Patton, Lee Ranaldo, Ellen Fullman, Blixa Bargeld, Pauline Oliveros, among others.
Beginning with January 2020, all his compositions are exclusively published by Berlin’s Verlag Neue Musik. Chessa's music has previously been published by Rai Trade and Carrara, and it has been released by Sub Rosa and Stradivarius. His record, “Canti felice,” issued by the Parisian label Skank Bloc Records, was August 2018 Record of the Month for one of Italy’s leading music magazines, Rumore. His most recent record, The Noise of Art, produced by Prague’s OPO, came out in March 2019.
In the Winter 2018, while in residency at the Steel House in Rockland, ME, he developed the audiovisual installation #00FF00 #FF00FF and prepared for Schirmer the diplomatic edition of Julius Eastman's Symphony No. II, the world premiere of which he conducted at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall with Mannes Orchestra. The New York Times has described Chessa’s rendition as a work that “radiates Cosmic Grandeur”. His chapter on Eastman’s “Gay Guerrilla” closes the book of the same title—the first ever dedicated to Eastman’s music. Edited by Mary Jane Leach and Renée Levine Packer for University of Rochester Press, “Gay Guerrilla” is now out on paperback.
Photo by Mauro Aprile Zanetti