Pianist Angelo Râpan’s musical pathway is both very similar to and also completely unlike most other artists who reside under the umbrella term of “contemporary instrumental music” today. It was a road that was challenging at times and yet also filled with many rewarding moments and triumphs. More than anything else, his voyage to where (and who) he is now displays that the courage to follow your dreams, coupled with support and love from family, and fueled by passion, talent, and perseverance, can propel you to a lofty place and, with some luck along the way, make your dreams come true.
Angelo started taking piano lessons at a very early age. His mother, a classical musician herself, began tutoring him at age 4. By the age of 6, following in his sister’s footsteps, he was accepted into the prestigious George Enescu Music Academy in his native Romania where he was a pupil of Cristina Georgescu. Six years later, he won his first piano competition, a national one at that, in Bucharest, Romania. Over the next several years, he took first and second place at competitions in Romania, Spain and Belgium. However, getting there took sacrifice by both him and his parents. His early studies allowed him to be close to his family, but by the age of 13, as the political climate in Romania worsened, his parents encouraged him to leave and he went to study at the Ars Nova Academy in Barcelona, Spain (which would later be followed by stints at schools in both Switzerland and Belgium). Even with his parents complete support, this was obviously not easy for a boy of 13 to do, but Râpan not only forged ahead, but prospered, earning a degree in Music Performance at Conservatoir Royal de Bruxelles in Belgium.
Râpan quickly ascended to higher heights in the classical music world in Europe and, after moving to America, in the United States as well. He has served as musical director for a variety of organizations in Belgium, New York, Hong Kong, and in his adopted home town of Memphis, Tennessee, where he now resides with his wife. His musical repertoire reaches far beyond his classical roots, encompassing music theatre, opera, dance repertoire, Argentinian tango, world music, and with the latest chapter in his life, contemporary instrumental music of a reflective, soothing nature. This latest page in the book of his life has culminated in his collaboration with the acclaimed production/engineering team of Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont.
The album that resulted from his visit to Vermont, Songs of Leaving, will be released in the summer of 2015, and it represents a return of sorts for the once shy Romanian boy who was more comfortable playing his own music at the piano than talking. He began an inner journey to explore music as a way of telling his life’s story, communicating what it was like for him to endure his early struggles and finally find peace and fulfillment. A friend of his introduced him to the belief in life being an adventure to live and absorb, not so much a destination to achieve. As he recounts, the doorway to musical improvisation opened early. “My first improvisation…was from age 6-7, [I was] very shy then, [and I] loved to stay in front of the piano and explore scenarios and pathways, discovering emotions that I never discovered with any other artistic expression.” While classical, dance, opera and music theatre dominated his life once his formal studies ended, he has now returned to this more intuitive and emotive composing approach. When quizzed about his inspiration for Songs of Leaving, Angelo remarks “Nature for sure, [and] visiting my grandparents every summer in Transylvania as a little boy…[it’s] amazing the stories and tales that you hear from old folks up in the mountain…very creative and full of emotions. Life experiences. Thanking my parents for their sacrifice…My sister for her guidance. My wife for the inspiration and strength in very stormy moments in life. Faith and love that we chose to share with our human family along our journey, that can change our future.”
There can be little doubt that, while his future may be full of new experiences and music collaborations as he forges ahead into relatively new musical territory, Angelo Râpan will not only do “just fine,” but will face what comes with courage, wit, and the will to weather whatever life has in store for him and he’ll come out stronger, wiser, and eager to continue the journey.