CARisMA, the Duo Classical Guitarists

CARisMA is the union between extraordinary classical guitarists Magdalena Kaltcheva and Carlo Corrieri.  Both Magdalena and Carlo had early introductions to music. Originally born in Sofia in Bulgaria, Magdalena Kaltcheva began her classical studies in Germany and was taught by the country’s most influential classical guitarists Jürgen Rost and Hubert Käppel. Carlo Corrieri, who grew up in Pisa, began his musical endeavours aged only seven years old and studied in Italy under the great concert guitarists Flavio Cucchi and Matteo Mela, before travelling to America to complete his studies.

Kaltcheva chose music as her ultimate vocation early in childhood. She was born in Sofia 26 years ago and still remembers long hours of playing the classical guitar with her two brothers. Her systematic music training began at age 9. At 13 she was admitted for studies at the Music Academy in Weimar, Germany, in the class of Jürgen Rost and since age 19 she has been leading master classes. In 2007, Paco deLucia invited her to become a supporting musician at his concerts, but her schedule did not allow that and she declined the proposal.

Carlo love of guitar could be traced back to when he was six years old and a friend of the family gave him a small Russian guitar with some of the strings broken, but he instantly loved it. He then began to play songs from cartoons that I heard on television. It was obvious to his parents that Carlo had a knack for music, so a year later they gave him a full-sized guitar and enrolled him in classical guitar lessons. By the time he was 8, Carlo was already winning international competitions.

One of his most memorable recent experiences was playing at the Enzo Ferrari Auditorium in Maranello, Italy, for the introduction of a new Ferrari model. "I played onstage with the model next to me," recalls Carlo. "It was such a great experience." He said.

"Carlo and I met during many guitar festivals and competitions around the world before becoming a couple in 2010," says Magdalena. "A year later we created CARisMA after making 5 arrangements of Rachel Portman's soundtrack to the movie called 'Chocolat' together with italian composer Giorgio Mirto. We loved the combination of the two guitars, and our different techniques fitted so well together that we decided to go deeper into that direction. It was very exciting to experiment with different styles of music, not just classical.

But since they first collaborated in 2011, they have become much more than just a classical guitar duo. Inspired by Debussy and Einaudi as much as electronic masters like Daft Punk, the duo have revolutionised the way classical guitar is played. By bringing together the old and the new and integrating elements from the contemporary and classical worlds, they have created an innovative sound all of their own.

The music of CARisMA, made of colorful embroidered arabesques and delicate arpeggios as soft as butterfly wings, can be the perfect sound track of those magic instants we call life. CARisMA seem to pass through the gates of time and their music seems a bridge over infinity, which projects the past into the future, where classical music wears the majestic and metaphysical robes of its past, albeit enriched by sonic and conceptual elements pertaining to our times.

In a certain way the sound canvases painted by this duo collect the works of the Renaissance Maestros, if the latter were in search of the golden proportion through the balance of the form, also CARisMA are looking for it through an immortal intonation, like the one with the A at 432 hertz. This intonation, which was the characteristic of the greatest exponent of Italian Opera, Giuseppe Verdi, paints the notes in a mother of pearl nuance and in a silky softness so that when they come out from their guitars they seem as if they had been dipped into the moonlight, by which were influenced the most intimate and inspired auteur melodies.

From the outset, these two prodigiously talented guitarists wanted to create something altogether different from the concertos they had studied. Their journey led to a radical and acclaimed arrangement of David Guetta’s "Titanium". The success of "Titanium" sparked their imagination, leading to their new composition and single DoNAtion created with New Zealand electronic composer and producer Nigel Stanford. It is a track rich in melody, driven by Stanford’s ambient beats, creating a new genre that defies classification - but may explain the sound of a duo raised on classical, obsessed with Daft Punk and fascinated by science and nature.

The ‘DNA’ of DoNAtion refers to frequency of human DNA replication which is set at 8 Hz. CARisMA play their music at 432Hz, 8Hz below the international standard of 440Hz. 8Hz is also the frequency that activates both hemispheres of our brain. DoNAtion is a watershed for Carlo and Magdalena and marks the most radical departure from their straight classical roots and a continued journey into uncharted waters.

“We think differently from most classical musicians,” says Carlo, “We enjoy all music and we're young, so of course we listen to pop and electronica, they’re as much a soundtrack to our everyday lives as our classical background. And some of the most exciting composers today work in electronic music. It never made sense to us to ignore the modern world and restrict ourselves to classical compositions.

“At the same time,” adds Magdalena, “We are inspired by so much more – everything from science to surrealism, Nikola Tesla’s experiments on free energy to Salvador Dali. Our base is in classical music, but there are many more colours that we can add to the mix.”

By working closely with Nigel Stanford, they have refined their sound and become pioneers in the classical and electronic music worlds, with audiences worldwide left in awe of their synth-driven experimentation.

The ambitious research of the proportion aurea through music mathematics masterfully melts with the sophistication of the duo arrangements, and through a sublime technique that never exaggerates, that never is an end in itself, excites and makes all of us dream, without any distinction. This is the power of music, a universal language that can communicate straight with our souls, that leads us to leaf, through the sense of hearing, the pages that give shape to the canon of beauty.

Along the way, CARisMA’s radical new style has garnered much attention, leading to a performance in front of the world famous Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli who was astonished by their arrangement and performance of the Overture from ‘The Barber of Seville’ by Rossini.

Shortly after this performance, CARisMA released their debut album 'Confessions', which featured film music from “Chocolat” by Rachel Portman, alongside a selection of jazz and classical standards which placed CARisMA amongst the greatest virtuoso guitar players. In June 2014, they embarked on their first solo tour in the Far East, performing in some of the most prestigious concert halls and expanding their repertoire to include their own arrangements of traditional Chinese songs.

The fingers of the duo chisel complex sound statues like Michelangelo’s, enriched with fast cascades of notes that then slow down in a flutter, to settle then in a clear harmonious pond, where sensitive melodies are floating, in which each note seems to have been written on the pentagram with the sensitive ink of the heart. CARisMA, poetry in music where beauty, harmony and sensitivity are narrated in prose by two guitars…it is impossible not to feel moved by all this.

"We are composing every day, exploring the electronic sound more and more. No classical guitarist has done this so far and we cannot wait to see where it takes us next.”

CARisMA have performed in some of the most famous and biggest venues in the world such as the Roundhouse and the O2 Arena in London, the Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai, the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, the Arena Ciudad de Mexico and the Paolo Sixth Concert Hall in the Vatican City.  And now, in support of their new release, they opened the following U.S. shows for Andrea Boccelli: Allstate Arena in Chicago, Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, and Madison Square Garden in New York.

Six years ago, the duo had the opportunity to play in front of the world famous Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli who was astonished by their arrangements and performance and offered to produce their album, ‘Confessions’, which just released in the U.S. on August 20, 2014 and features their exquisite guitars on film music by Rachel Portman (from the movie “Chocolat”) as well as a selection of Jazz and Classical standards.

During our first meeting with Bocelli I was much stressed. I could not even understand much Italian. After I and Carlo played our pieces to Andrea he was silent for a short time and then said something I could not make out. Carlo was very pale, looked at me and told me Andrea had suggested to us to record a disc in his studio in the coming month”, Magdalena goes back to 2011. A few months later the album Confessions was released.

CARisMA made their appearance at the opening act for Andrea Bocelli at the popular iTunes Festival in London, which was streamed worldwide and was a huge success for the duo.  The collaboration on stage with Andrea continued as the beloved Tenor took them on his 2012 tours around the world in places like Asia, UK, America, Ireland, Eastern Europe and South America.