Choirmaster with a Spring in his Step
Cristiano Grasso was born in 1973 in Cecina, a small town by the sea in the province of Livorno, although he now lives in Livorno. Cristiano’s passion is for music, as shown by his very busy schedule as school teacher, piano teacher and choirmaster of three different choirs here in Livorno.
Having studied the piano, as well as a course in Jazz and another in the teaching of music, Cristiano began his musical career in 1994 as the organist for the parish of Cecina Mare. This role naturally led to an interest in choir music and his first choirmaster job arose from a collaboration with the Istituto Mascagni and the Evergreen choir, still one of the choirs he leads now.
In 1998 Cristiano’s best known group of voices – the Springtime Choir – was formed. It is a group of about 40 singers who, over the years, have earned a reputation as an entertaining and professional group of performers, their repertoire ranging from gospel to jazz, and ethnic to musicals. They are based at the Menicagli music school and regularly perform in Livorno. They have also appeared all over Italy and were recently in Brussels for a concert. They are due to perform in Vence, in the south of France on 25th April this year. Springtime have also just finished recording their second CD, part of the proceeds from which will be donated to the Associazione Italiana Persone Down.
The third choir led by Cristiano is a children’s choir known as Spring Junior who have also performed at various events in Livorno.
A few years ago Cristiano even found the time to write a novel entitled “Ora o Mai Più” (Now or Never) – perhaps that is his motto, as he never seems to let an opportunity pass. His enthusiasm for his music and the world of music in general shines out, lighting up all those around him.
Cristiano, what’s your pet hate?
I can't stand people who don't listen to you, and I hate arrogance.
Do you have any interests apart from music?
Yes, I play tennis when I can.
What kind of music do you listen to?
All kinds of music except heavy metal and reggae, which I don’t like. My favourite kind of music comes from musicals - things like the Phantom of the Opera and the Lion King. I used to love Fame as well.
What’s your favourite place in Livorno?
The Terrazza Mascagni and the Venezia quarter
And in Italy?
Rome. I could easily live in Rome.
I love Paris and New York. I feel at home in both of them.
What do you miss about Livorno when you’re away?
The sea and the climate. Livorno has a great climate.
Choose: Ponce or Corretto al Sassolino?
Ponce, I don’t drink coffee any other way!
Choose: Bagno or rocks?
I'd rather go to the rocks than a bagno, but if given the choice I like sandy beaches like the ones in Sardinia. There aren’t any like that here in Livorno unfortunately!
If you could change something about Livorno, what would you change?
I would like to do something about the cinemas – it’s such a shame that the old ones have closed down. I would also like to see more theatrical events. And something more for tourists – we could put on a ‘musical aperitif’ for them in the Fortezza Vecchia, for example.
Livorno’s best point?
All the different kinds of music and concerts and that are organised in Livorno.
Livorno’s worst point?
The fact that so few people really go to these concerts.
Finally, where would you take a friend on a one day visit to Livorno?
To the seafront, and then to eat fish in a restaurant. In the evening, a walk in the old Venezia district.