In a year that has changed life as we once knew it, it's never been more important to share stories that lift our spirits. Music is medicine for our heart and soul. We're proud to have used our platform to share music by female musicians during lockdown this year, all recorded by the musicians themselves.
Alessia Disimino is a rising classical violinist and a creative entrepreneur who founded the North York String Academy. I first met Alessia through a cocktail fundraiser we hosted for Toronto Summer Music. Her performance mesmerized us and I felt an instant connection to her. She is a passionate musician, a deep thinker and a brilliant storyteller. I wanted to work with her again and showcase her artistry so we made a music video together. We like to push our creativity to the limits at Zvelle and make you feel things. - Elle
Elle: Why did you choose this particular piece to perform?
Alessia: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” I’ve chosen the first movement of “L’Estate” (Summer) for its evocative and vivid character and sense of movement and energy. This incredibly popular work has stood the test of time and has appeared in countless arrangements, but what is perhaps less known are the Sonnets that Vivaldi likely wrote to go along each movement, describing the setting of each one. I’d love to share the text that goes along this first movement of “Summer”:
"Under the heat of the burning summer sun
Languish man and flock; the pine is parched.
The cuckoo finds it’s voice, and suddenly,
The turtledove and goldfinch sing.
A gentle breeze blows,
But suddenly, the north wind appears.
The shepherd weeps because, overhead,
Lies the fierce storm, and his destiny."
In a sense, this work in its entirety is programmatic: vivid visual depictions in sound. This is instrumental music meant to evoke the extra-musical and awaken the imagination.
When I saw Zvelle’s 'V' shoe, I immediately knew I wanted to pair this piece with it. The shoe’s vibrant colour, luxe Italian craftsmanship, and timeless yet modern elegance brought to mind what this piece so perfectly captures: Classic(al) is always in fashion.
Elle: This was your first shoot after lock down. How did it feel performing again?
Alessia: This was such a special first shoot back for me. We filmed in Toronto’s historic Heliconian Club Hall, a venue I’ve performed in many times pre-pandemic.. yet after months of isolation, I felt a newfound appreciation for live performance and the stage. Even with social distancing measures, it meant so much to perform for a ‘live’ audience with all the wonderful people who took part in the behind-the-scenes of the shoot. Music is meant to be shared, and I felt honoured to share this great piece with them, and to showcase the beautiful shoes of Zvelle. Isolation was a reset button: where we often say ‘Stop and smell the roses,’ I found myself saying ‘Stop, and hear the music.’
Elle: What is music for you?
Alessia: For me, music is storytelling. It’s narrative, aesthetic, beauty, and can express deep truths about our existence and our universal need for connection. It is never isolated; even if I am playing unaccompanied, music teaches me to look inward and connect to myself and beyond myself, and by necessity, I always feel prompted to share with others the wonderful discoveries I find. I feel it is a great calling to study a piece, search for what a composer intended to say, and discover how I can interpret it best to bring its meaning to life.
Elle: Talk to me about the Academy you founded.
Alessia: In 2017, shortly after graduating from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music with a Masters degree in Violin Performance, I fell in love with the Pedagogy of violin and decided to open up an Academy: the North York String Academy.
This is now our 4th year at NYSA! We're open to students ages 4-17, and also has a newly launched Adult Violin Lessons stream! Individual violin instruction, group classes, theory and music history lessons, concert and outreach opportunities, and field trips are all included in our Academy activities!
I feel very passionate about teaching, creating community, and sharing the love of music and performance excellence, and am dedicated to helping every student discover their potential in the wonderful world of music. Though I have been teaching for over 10 years, each student I meet is a new opportunity, each with their own diverse learning needs. I love connecting with new students and families, and am honoured to help them grow in their musicianship.
Elle: What does Walk How You Want mean to you?
Alessia: I love this mantra from Zvelle. To me, it embodies our need to check in with ourselves, listen to our inner voice, and lead with our deepest convictions. There can be so many distractions in this world; let’s go beyond to remember that so much meaning and joy comes from choosing to honour our lives, where we come from, where we are going, and to always ask ourselves how we can create a more loving and beautiful world for those around us.