From the recording Ever Ever On
This track is featured on 'Ever Ever On'
"The Ghosts of Levigliani" - composed while in Italy in September, 2003:
We were staying with relatives at the Albergo Raffaello, nestled beautifully in the small mountain village of Levigliani. We were in Levigliani to celebrate the first-ever reunion of our Italian and American families at a luncheon feast that went on and on (and on) through at least 6 courses and twice as many vino toasts and speeches in both Italian and English. Our hostess (and Italian relatives) Ghilberta and her sons Marcello and Favio masterfully prepared and served an Italian feast second to none.
Then, later on, after receiving our hotel room keys, I found out through casual conversation with Marcello and Favio that my particular hotel room was known to be haunted. This little golden nugget of knowledge was passed along to me just before we were all planning to retire for the evening. I, of course, became keenly inquisitive, but Marcello and Favio just looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and passed off my inquiries as if haunted rooms were commonplace in Italy. I was barely able to muster their acknowledgement that at least all ghosts in Italy are friendly...which wound up doing very little to ease my overactive imagination.
In the middle of the night, all of Italy suffered an electricity blackout (and there's no telling why a blackout should be noticed by sleeping people in the first place) and of course, I was awakened - startled. I must have been a bit nervous with the stories of ghosts getting the best of me. Others in the hotel were roused out of bed by the blackout as well, and things were definitely going bump in the night - one humorous fact we found out later was that my cousin Gina awoke and started packing and dragging her luggage around thinking it was time to get up and catch the tour bus. Hence things going bump in the night!
Since I was wide awake at 3:30 am, I sat up by the window looking out over the eerily silent mountain village in the moonlight...with my guitar in hand - and started to tinker. And then all at once, I played a melody line on the guitar in its entirety as if I had always known it...it struck me as uncanny...like it had already been composed. And when I played the melody - and because of the extreme silence due to the blackout - through the half-open window I could hear its echo coming back as a delayed response, which added a haunting element to the piece. My new melody resonated so well with me (and the echo) that I committed it to memory, playing it often...which is what I do to keep it in mind since I'm not adept at writing out sheet music.
I finally had a chance to record the guitar piece in 2008. After recording the guitar part, I forwarded it to John Catchings, our string arranger, in 2009. When I introduced the piece and the background story to John, he really took it to heart and captured the echo "call and response" elements in the string arrangement - which I think fits well and completes my overall vision of the piece. John also playfully kept the ghostly spirit of the piece alive with the pizzicato elements in the strings - which certainly sound like ghosts tiptoeing around in the dark - at least to me!
So "The Ghosts of Levigliani" took almost seven years to become a fully realized guitar and chamber string ensemble piece. I wasn't in much of a hurry because my new friends who guided my creative efforts on this piece - the ghosts - are timeless anyway! The piece now exists in a wonderful form that communicates very well the haunting creative experience I had in Levigliani very late on that memorable September evening back in 2003.