BWW Interviews: THE BOOK OF MORMON Percussionist Giancarlo de Trizio
How many times have you gone to see a theatrical production, and you are blown away by the music? I speak for myself when I say the music is what makes these productions so great, so emotional, so memorable. Believe it or not, folks, those are real people with some really incredible talent in that orchestra pit who don't always get the recognition they deserve. Without the orchestra, we lose those big bang musical numbers, the sound effects, and mood of each and every scene.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with one of these musicians who is currently playing percussion on tour with one of the most popular shows out there, THE BOOK OF MORMON.
Gianarlo de Trizio, originally from Italy, is truly dedicated to his craft. He was trained classically before coming to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he found a love for working in musical theatre. To put his dedication to music into perspective, he played 400 shows in a row with this tour before taking a break. "The goal," he said, "was to do all of them with the same energy/intensity so any audience could still see the same show we performed at opening night of the tour." Impressive.
Check out my interview with Giancarlo below, where we discussed why percussion is so important to THE BOOK OF MORMON and what it takes to have the energy to perform this show eight times a week.
How did you first become interested in music?
I'm originally from Italy, but I've been in the States for six years now. It was kind of a family thing. My parents don't really play any instruments, but they've always been interested in music. In middle school they decided to send me to a school that had classes for music and at that time I was playing piano. My parents did the same thing with my brother. So basically my brother was playing piano and I grew up listening to him play and I kind of wanted to do the same. We had an orchestra in middle school and there was only a place for one pianist at the time, so whenever I wasn't playing piano they would give me percussion to play... tambourine or snare drum or something like that. At that time I really fell in love with it. I just enjoyed playing percussion much more than the piano, and I would rather spend like eight hours a day studying percussion instead of piano. That's how I started playing drums.
What is it that you like about playing the drums more so than piano?
That's an interesting question. I believe there is a relationship between the instrument and the personality of the person, so I think drums fit my personality better. I understood this later. At the moment when it happened I had no idea. Even because of the role that drums add in the band... it's mostly supportive. We're never really in the spotlight. We're kind of behind the scenes supporting whoever is in the spotlight, and I'm that kind of person where I like to see somebody doing well but knowing that I am behind that person who is doing well.
You went to Berklee College of Music, correct?
Yes, in Boston. I started in Fall 2007 and I graduated in the Spring 2010, so it took me three years instead of four. And then I moved to New York right after, which is where I auditioned for my first tour. It was a non-equity tour of IN THE HEIGHTS. I did that for eight months, and then right after that... two weeks after that tour ended I started rehearsing for THE BOOK OF MORMON tour. That was July 2012.
Did you study anything related to theatre while you were in school, or did you study strictly music?
When I was there I did a lot of theatre, but still the music aspect of theatre. I've never been an actor. I used to be a member of the musical theatre orchestra at Berklee, and I did that for two years I believe. And then I was basically the first call drummer at school for any theatre related activities. Whenever they had a show or sometimes a student would write regional music or regional books for a theatre show they would call me. I think that worked out really well because I didn't mention that before coming to Berkley I did a conservatory in Italy. I did classical percussion... timpani, marimba, xylophone, all that stuff. I think part of the training in classical percussion is being able to play in an orchestra following a conductor, which is essential to what I do now because in every theatre show there is a conductor that you have to follow. You need to have that extra skill that if you're not classically trained it's hard to have. In fact, a lot of Broadway musicians are classically trained, especially percussionists because, again, you need to be able to follow a conductor. But, drums were... I can still play classical percussion, but drums were my love at first sight. I enjoy that more than anything else, and theatre for me was perfect because I combined the desire of playing drums with the skills that I had gained from my classical training. There's not really a drum set in a classical orchestra, so the only way for me to play drums in a similar environment was in theatre where there is a conductor. It was the perfect combination for me, and that's why I chose theatre.