Debora Petrina

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Debora Petrina
(photo by David Prando)
Background information
Origin Italy
Genres avant-pop/rock, classic, experimental
Occupation(s) composer, songwriter, pianist, dancer
Instruments piano, keyboards, toys, effects

Petrina is an Italian composer, pianist and songwriter.[1]


Petrina's debut album, in Doma (2009), features guests such as Elliott Sharp, Emir Bijukic, Amy Kohn and Ascanio Celestini. In it she has synthesized in a visionary style her oblique and sensual songwriting and the experimentations of avant-garde jazz and rock, blended with her classical background.

The album was included in the September 2009, October 2009 and April 2010 playlists of David Byrne's web radio.

He is also supporting two new recording projects by Petrina: the first (due out in 2012) artistically produced by her (David Byrne and John Parish appear as guests), the second with the orchestration of Jherek Bischoff, composer and arranger for David Byrne, Xiou Xiou, Carla Bozulich, Parenthetical Girls, exc.

Winner of the Premio Ciampi Award 2007, Indie-Pop Revelation at MEI 2009 (Meeting of Independent Labels), Siae Award 2010 and Demo Rai Award 2010, Petrina has triggered the enthusiasm of specialized press and radio/TV programs in Italy (RAI), Germany (Funkhaus Europa), USA, Switzerland (RSI) and Cuba (the historical Radio Progreso).

But it is live that her talent, hard to define in few words, expresses its best, curiously and mischievously contemporary, between toy instruments and electronics, dream and reality.

While she is known as an interpreter of contemporary piano music, her own work draws on a wide range of styles, blending them to create a new form of intelligent quirky composition that is at the same time poetic and filmic.

She plays (solo to quartet), at jazz festivals, as well as in rock contests, and on avant-garde stages.

She was the main singer/actress of a contemporary opera performed by the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale in Vicenza and collaborates with the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, with whom she played at the Biennale in Venice and in the main North Italian theaters.

In 2008 the composer and guitar player Elliott Sharp (guest in her album) invited her to play at the Stone (John Zorn's club in New York) in duo with drummer Mike Sarin.

In the same tour she played at the other side of the continent, in California, at Mills College, the temple of the 60s West Coast avant-garde: the repertory included voice and piano premieres by Nino Rota and other Italian composers, and an original composition by her based on To The Earth by Frederic Rzewski and approved by him.

Debora Petrina
(photo by David Prando)

The following day, she shared a rock stage with Amy X Neuburg and Emily Bezar at the Café du Nord, one of the most important clubs in San Francisco.

Two months later, at La Fenice Theatre in Venice, she played a premiere of a concert by Bruno Maderna, in the version for two pianos written by the composer himself.

She has been invited to play in La Havana by the Instituto Cubano de la Musica.

In that occasion she played a series of songs by Radiohead, that she has re-worked for voice and piano, at Roldàn Theatre, and then a programme of 19th century Cuban piano music by Manuel Saumell, re-arranged by herself, at Memorial Josè Martì.

At the Conway Hall in London she has choreographed and performed, while playing the piano, the Three Dances by Morton Feldman, and played other works by Feldman for the launch of Morton Feldman Says by Chris Villars.

She was invited to play her songs live at Channel 2 - RSI (Italian Swiss Radio) and at the National Hungarian Radio, at the Culture Institutes in New York, San Francisco and Strasbourg, and in clubs in Berlin and Cologne (Köln).

As a performer of contemporary piano music she has recorded premieres of pieces by Morton Feldman for an independent American label -Early and Unknown Piano Works, OgreOgress productions, and she has played many premiers of others composers such as John Cage, Nino Rota, Bruno Maderna, Frederic Rzewski, Camillo Togni, etc.

Early and Unknown Piano Works has received reviews from most of the specialized American press (The Wire, Fanfare, Gramophone, American Record Guide, NewMusicBox, Music & Vision, Living Music, Classical Music Web, AllAboutJazz), and in Italy from Il Manifesto and Il Giornale della Musica.

In 2004 she participated to the album titled A Call for Silence, directed by Nicolas Collins, for Sonic Arts Network (UK).

As organist and harpsichord player she has toured Japan playing at Tokio Opera Hall and Oji Hall, Osaka Symphony Hall, as well as in other cities.

Petrina is also a choreographer and performer, and in her performances she combines her diverse skills as pianist, singer and dancer.

She has been part of the dance company of Sara Wiktorowicz, and she has danced at the Rotterdam Dance Atelier, at the Grand Theatre of Groningen, at the Opera Estate Festival in Bassano del Grappa, at the Festival Explò in Venice and at the Teatro Sanzio in Urbino.

Her performance works include She-Shoe, a dance solo with live sounds and video, No toco (a solo piece upon an amplified piano stool), Quatuor pour la fins des murs (a solo performance involving the digital sound processing of a drill), Terrafrana (a piece about the work in building sites) and Feldman Dances, a choreographed interpretation at the piano of some works written for dance by Morton Feldman, that has been presented at the Conway Hall, London.

The videoclip She-Shoe, taken from the live performance, with Petrina's song She-Shoe (from IN DOMA) as a soundtrack, has been invited at the International Dance Film Festival 2008 in Yokohama (Japan).

In 2010 she was invited by the University of Padova to present a program of pieces written for dance by Morton Feldman and John Cage, with one of the most best-known Italian dancers, Simona Bertozzi. The title of the project was New York 1950.





  1. ^ "La padovana Debora Petrina vince il PREMIO SIAE x DEMO". Teatroespettacolo. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 

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