Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Catching Up With Pandora...Prog Music and So Much More...

Good evening fellow progheads, and welcome back!  Last week's side trip to Spain/London was enjoyable to say the least--but the siren call of Italy has drawn me back once more.  Once again I ask you my loyal followers to flip through the rolodex in your mind--and the link on this blog to my posts from January 2014--and re-visit Pandora.  A lot has happened in the 22 months since the Concert Closet visited Bra, Italy in the Piedmont region of that beautiful country.  Well, the search for all things prog has once again brought the Concert Closet to the Italian hemisphere of the globe where there is always great food, enthusiastic people, and marvelous progressive music.

Catching up with Pandora, I discover the band has been anything but complacent since January 2014. So this week I bring you another interview with another prog band as I peel the curtain back on Pandora; let us discover together what has kept Claudio Colombo and the rest of Pandora busy since our last stopover...


Closet Concert Arena: Since Alibi Filosifico was released, what has Pandora been up to?

Claudio: We have had quite a lot to keep us busy!  After the release of an album there are many  aspects on the business side of music that need attention; jounalists, publicity, information via our website and other channels.  Above all Pandora needed to keep our fans involved, make them feel they are part of our family!

The time seemed to fly incredibly fast as we worked on these aspects of promoting our music and we found ourselves on many new roads.  One new journey was the opening of the "Studi Pandora Music di Claudio Colombo," a structure hosting an art school, music school, and a cutting edge recording studio.  Another side road Pandora traveled was working on our next album and the celebration of our 10th anniversary!  Our communication channels may have slowed a bit--but we are working hard and profusely "behind-the-scenes" without losing contact with our faithful, loyal fans.

CCA: Can you tell us more about your new recording studio/music and art school?

Claudio: Yes, of course!  The official name is "Studi Pandora Music di Claudio Colombo;" a project I have been planning for years.  Previously I ran a drum school for almost ten years.  Following the evolution of Pandora's musical journey, I decided to create a place made by artists for artists.  A
state-of-the-art facility where one can record in a top quality professional setting; where someone can learn to play an instrument alongside artists who live by and through their music.  At the same time, I wanted my wife Emoni to be part of it all--the one person in my family and Pandora that has worked extremely hard side-by-side with me to make it all happen.  She follows the arts courses and secretarial work in the studios.  We started this project in 2013, and in October 2014 everything was complete and the studios were inaugurated; I successfully accomplished everything I set out to do.

I run the drum, guitar, bass, and keyboard courses, Corrado Grappeggia is in charge of piano courses, my father Beppe takes care of music history, and Emoni handles art and English for musical language courses.  Other teachers have joined our project as well...some are part of the history of Pandora.   Jerry Arcidiacono is an artist who performs with Pandora live; Jerry and other lesser known but incredibly talent-laden artists full of passion love to reach out to anyone interested in approaching the world of music!

The studio has been analyzed down to the last detail.  The entrance, for example, is dedicated to an extensive music memorabilia collection put together over several years, belonging to my father and I. Live concert posters from original shows, autographed track lists--we even have a set of Phil Collins' drumsticks to be honest!  Inside there is a section highlighting Emoni's art teachings for both young and old; where she devotes her time and talent to creating the splendid album cover art for Pandora.

The heart of the entire operation is most certainly the control room and recording studio.  Everything was designed to achieve a great, clear sound...working with the latest technology available as well as analog equipment from "the good old days!"  I am also in charge of recording, which ranges from demo productions to official record albums.  I handle every detail regardless of whether it is one or the other; to me everything is of equal importance as those who have registered for courses and entered the studios will attest.  I invite you and your readers to visit our studio's website at
https://www.facebook.com/Studi-Pandora-Music-di-Claudio-Colombo-811373725582720/timeline/ to better appreciate the photos and other material through our work.

CCA: Have there been any line-up changes since Alibi Filosifico?

Claudio: No.  The project has its artistic form completed--I am always in charge of drums, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, some keyboards, and small instruments added here and there; Puerto Rican cuatro, flute, etc.  I also handle artistic production of the final songs, the audio recording, and the mixing of the recordings.  My father Beppe continues his great work with keyboards as does Corrado, in addition to leaving his voice print on our work.

With us also is Emoni Viruet, who will continue to apply her magical artistic touch that characterizes our covers of other artists.  She will complete our arrangements with her ever evocative, intense, and beautiful voice.


CCA: What can fans expect from Pandora for the remainder of 2015 and beyond?  

Claudio: This year we are celebrating exactly ten years since the creation of the Pandora project.
Ten years since we first sat in our living room at home discussing what to do and where to begin...ten years since Corrado, after arriving at our house, said, "I want to play prog!"  and my father excitedly replying, "Then you are in the right place!"  We are celebrating ten years since choosing the name Pandora; the name that has always kept us company.  To mark this celebration, we wanted to make something extremely special, something that would contain everything that brought us to where we are now and inspired us to keep going.

CCA: Will the new album be as grandiose as Alibi Filosifico, or is Pandora going in a different direction?

Claudio: We are not the ones to judge this, hehe!  But we can tell you we are exceptionally happy with how things are going!  The direction of Pandora--according to many--is always very unpredictable.  I would need the album in hand to have an answer because there is still a sea that separates us from the end result.  Nonetheless, we start recording soon and if all goes well, the completed album will be available in early 2016!

CCA: What musicians/bands have had an effect on Pandora?

Claudio: If we have to make a list it would most certainly include: Genesis, ELP, Yes, Jethro Tull, Dream Theater, Gentle Giant, Area, Banco, PFM, Le Orme, Ayreon, Pink Floyd, Marillion, Pendragon, and many, many more...

Music is a unique and special world because everyone influences each other, but with different ideas and ways of expressing those ideas that may contrast others.  The groups we listed are but a small part of what we have heard and collected over the past 40 years in our recording libraries (which for the most part belong to my father; he has a vast collection of LP's and CD's!).  Each group has shared with us emotions that have sparked something inside.  There are people who listen only to a specific genre of music and are not open to listening to something other than what they hear regularly.  I believe this is very wrong and not very constructive.  If what you hear is created with a sincere, pure, true expression, then it should be listened to while trying to understand and grasp the nuances--whether it be jazz or death metal!

While it is true Pandora makes symphonic progressive music, there are times when I may need a Genesis CD to explain a feeling I want to create, while immediately after I may use something from Iron Maiden!  Perhaps that is what pulls us away from the "classic" progressive music; we are not tied to just the classic canons of the genre--we prefer to wander through every aspect of music from rock to jazz to metal to classical...from melodic to the most complex and absurd improvisations you can imagine.  As we have always stated and believed; Pandora music is a pure and sincere 360 degrees of Musical Expressionism!

CCA: Who writes the songs and how are the arrangements determined?

Claudio: The role of composer has been passed around continuously since the birth of Pandora; in the end we all take part and many things end up completely changed, hehe!  Everyone's opinions and tastes are important to make our music what it is.  To be honest we have very different musical personalities that once blended together, create our unique sound.  I am very much in charge of the arrangements and the artistic production of the band.  I do my best to perfectly blend everything, bringing it to a final result that satisfies everyone's ideas, all the while creating a unified meaning.

CCA: Will Pandora be touring to promote the new album, and if so will that include US dates?

Claudio: Unfortunately no.  It is very difficult to promote music here in Italy--concert-wise especially! We would love to bring our live music overseas; if that were to happen we would be more than honored to share the world of Pandora, hehe!

CCA: The artwork and designs for your CD sleeves are quite striking; where does Emoni draw her inspiration from?

Claudio: Emoni's art visually defines the music of Pandora in every aspect.  Her way of expressing her interpretation of the music is unique and eclectic.  Emoni is a very radiant person, filled with enthusiasm and talent.  Right from the beginning when we first started working together, she painted while the band worked on songs in another room; this allowed her to put on canvas her feelings about the music she was hearing.  When I saw one of her first drawings I immediately said, "This will be our next cover art!"  I am referring to the art you see on "Sempre e Ovunque Oltre il Sogno;" an album containing much of her artwork--given that she created a painting for every song on it!  That said, after seeing Emoni's first artwork, I was very shocked and pleasantly surprised as was the rest of the band.  We all agreed and Emoni came to be part of the team.  We can now say she is our Roger Dean, hehe!

 CCA: Are there any other festivities or surprises planned to celebrate Pandora's 10th Anniversary?

 Claudio: As I stated earlier, a nice sparkling album, hehe!  But I would like to clarify; this is  a very special album dedicated to our 10th anniversary--and some specific choices were made to celebrate just that.  Let me give you a little preview:

The album will be divided into two parts.  The first will be comprised of four songs from our previous albums (which you will soon discover!) completely re-recorded, re-arranged, and re-mixed.
As a special gift to our fans outside Italy who have always supported us--the songs are sung in English!

The second part of the album will contain five re-arranged tribute songs (which you will find out later!) dedicated to groups who have been an inspiration and guided us with their notes and music. Of course there will be other surprises as well--I will reveal one now; the renewal work and collaboration with the legendary David Jackson who once again lends his magnificent touch and tremendous talent to our recordings!

As always the album will be an AMS production under Matthias Scheller and will contain everything our fans have come to expect from Pandora--360 degrees of Musical Expressionism!

CCA: Feel free to send this fan a copy when its complete...

CCA: Which musicians and/or bands would you like to perform a live show with?

Claudio: As my father Beppe always says, music is a moment of unity, expression, and sharing. Whoever understands or feels this is welcome on stage with us...so I guess I don't have a precise or definitive answer to this question.  To play alongside other bands, be it before or during as has happened in the past, is always an honor; something special that makes music a real universal language.


Well fellow progheads, I believe you will agree that Pandora is one of the most high energy, passionate prog bands to take up residence in the prog garden...I need to sit and catch my breath! Pandora absolutely embodies a richness, boldness, and zeal few bands in any genre radiate. Combine all that energy with the talent that oozes through Pandora's music and you have the embodiment of what prog is.

Listen to the music interspersed randomly through this blog and you hear more than sound--you hear passion coming alive.  Pandora exudes a desire to not only play great prog--they bring it to life and offer it to the masses!  Follow Pandora on Twitter and keep up with all that is happening at @PandoraMusic1. Learn more about the band at http://www.pandoramusic.eu/ and please check out the Studi Pandora Music di Claudio Colombo at the link I posted above...you will be drawn to the progressive arts...

Now the Concert Closet must once again continue the search for all things prog, which means once again leaving Italy.  Bittersweet as that may be, I know there is so much more prog out there waiting to be discovered...until next week...

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