Stories Talk | Presentation Skills and Effective Storytelling
Valerio Matola is a genius who managed to combine technology with music and has worked internationally in important companies and projects. Now, it's time to help young people on their music journey by combining all of his talents together; talents that emerged in a rich, multi-layered and multidimensional course of life.
By Mia Kollia
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos
#music #culture #science #artificialintelligence #art #technology #machinelearning
He was born in Amman, Jordan. His father, who was Italian and a well-known musician by profession, accepted an offer from King Hussein of Jordan to work there. He met his Greek mother and shortly after Valerio’s birth they returned to Italy. When Valerio was five years old they came to Greece where they’ve stayed ever since. "I love Italy and it’s truly a very beautiful country, but I also like Greece very much. When Italian friends of mine come to visit me, they are always impressed by the beauties of this country."
- As a young child did you think about the career path you would like to follow?
I was already studying music at the National Conservatory and I was preparing to continue these studies at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome. I had music inside me from a young age and I wanted to learn how to capture it. I fell in love with classical music and the piano and I was fortunate to have excellent teachers. One of them was really close to me and within a year he took me off.
During that time I also met a man from the technology industry, who was also my mentor, and he offered me a job that was a big challenge for me. He basically let me manage an entire technology department, because he realised that I had an intuition about technology. So, in the end, I didn’t go to Rome but I started a career that went very well, although for me music was always in the first place.
- So how did you meet music again?
After 10-15 years, I happened to go to a party with a friend of mine who was a curator. In one room of the house he had a piano and because I was bored at the party, I sat there and started playing. So this friend of mine listened to me and a month later, she called me and asked me to make the soundtrack for a video art of a well-known up-and-coming director who was going abroad to various exhibitions. So I made it and then I forgot about it.
At one point, however, a professor from Goldsmiths University in London called me and told me that he had listened to my music video at an exhibition and he liked it very much and wanted me to go to the university to give a talk. Then he got in touch with other directors and I started writing music for various video arts again and making money from this occupation, along with my work in technology. I was also involved in the procedure of getting my diploma in piano by finishing all the theoretical lessons.
- It seems like you had a fast development and without you chasing it. You discovered new aspects of music and turned over life standards.
Gradually, my music became more and more popular, and I even signed a contract with an agent from a major music group in Los Angeles to write music for trailers in America. I also met Lena Platonos then and we started hanging out, because she won me over as a personality and influenced me musically.
Thus, I started to move away from soundtracks and focus more on experiential music, on chamber music. I started to transform. At the same time, a friend gave me the idea to participate in the Sundance Film Festival, in the section for film composers. So I applied and 700 composers from all over the world chose the final 30 and I was one of them. In the end, however, I didn’t go, because I had somewhat left the creation of soundtracks.
At that time, I happened to hear at the Concert Hall a sextet from New York, who played works by contemporary American composers and that became a real revelation for me. I also realised that my musical idiom was very similar to theirs, so I understood the reasons that I was chosen from America; listening to them was something familiar.
- How do you feel about becoming a musician? What is your evaluation on that and how do you contribute to it?
I noticed that after World War II, there was a generation of composers in Europe who felt frustrated with the human species and had a tendency for revolution. These people created a very experimental music excluding everything beautiful that was born in the Baroque, Romantic and Classical eras.
In the last twenty years we have been listening to works of contemporary classical music that essentially encourage the artist to cut off communication with the world, instead of the other way around. Even I, as a composer, sometimes feel that I need a manual to decode some works. So I conclude that, in the end, they cannot capture the modern age. But the Americans, precisely because they didn’t have these cultural chains, create works that have a liveliness and produce beauty.
So, in a way, I wanted to bring this philosophy to Greece, because I believe that our contemporary music scene should come to life and we should listen to something beautiful, even if it is simple - not simplistic. I have also found that even today, in Europe, there is gender discrimination in modern composers - something that of course doesn’t exist in America where female composers are very strong.
- How was "Kallos" created?
It was on my mind for several years and the implementation started in collaboration with important people, just before the pandemic - which didn’t stop me and I founded the company in 2020. We have built a team of experienced artists and academics and altogether, along with our ideas and expertise, we are trying to create an entity, to contribute to the construction of a platform where modern creation will flourish in the context I mentioned earlier.
My motto is "to bring beauty back to modern creation" and that's why I named our team "Kallos" (beauty in Greek). There is also another goal on Kallos's agenda. We will try to approach idioms that reflect the modern era.
One of them is of course technology and especially artificial intelligence and machine learning, which will change the world. On this piece, I work closely with Democritus and we are planning an exhibition entitled "Gate AI". Its subject is the arts in collaboration with artificial intelligence and it’s an art installation that uses technology as a tool to produce an effect.
- Where do music, arts and technology actually intersect?
We have always needed tools to be able to express ourselves as clearly as possible. This runs through every human activity, hence the arts and specifically music. Technology is one such tool that helps us evolve.
- What would you advise young people to follow in terms of their development, in order to find happiness in their lives?
First of all, I would advise them to have an open mind and, consequently, through knowledge, to acquire critical thinking. The second important thing in my opinion is to have love and empathy, which are the keys to delving into bigger concepts. Because when you stay captured in yourself, you "shrink" as a person. Finally, I would advise them to look ahead and dream without fear and never give up.
Who is Valerio Matola
Valerio Matola is a composer, founder of the Kallos Group, co-founder of the GATE AI project and Director of the technology company Advantech Greece.
His compositions cover a wide range of music; orchestral, choral, chamber music, small ensembles, melodic poetry, piano compositions, as well as compositions for films and video art, in collaboration with American and European directors, in productions with international presence at festivals such as the Sundance film festival and the Berlinale.
In 2016 he made a collaboration in Los Angeles with the music group Pacifica, for music in productions of Hollywood and the American television network. In 2017, the Sundance festival included him in the 35 finalists, among 800 aspiring film composers from around the world, for a workshop with notable directors at Lucas Arts studios in San Francisco.
In the summer of 2021, as part of the Rokka festivals in Crete, he presented in the big concert of classical music for the first time to the public, the trilogy he composed, in poetry by Angelos Sikelianos performed by Thesis trio, with the soprano Irini Tsirakidou, the cellist Giorgos Kaloudis and the pianist Dimitra Kokkinopoulou.
For the last 12 years he has been the director of the multinational state-of-the-art technology company Advantech in Greece. In 2020 he founded the Kallos Group, a non-profit organisation of which renowned artists and academics are members. The aim of the team is to research and promote new ideas, forms and aesthetics of modern creation, as well as to explore the evolution of the purpose, values and ethics of creation, as they are shaped in the new era.