Luciano Chessa
&
Larry DeCeasar

Prayer of an Aspiring Musician
Aria composed and performed by Luciano Chessa with male soprano  Don Tatro
video by E.G. Crichton
2009

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Luciano Chessa is an Italian composer living in Berkeley, CA.

Lawrence DeCaesar, also known as Larry Langtry, Silver Dollar Larry, and Larry the Pianoman, was a pianist active in San Francisco from the 70’s to the early 90’s. He lived from 1931-2002, taught himself to play piano, and made his living playing in piano bars from Alaska down to Mexico.

Larry offered me a chance to experience a world I knew next-to-nothing about: the world of piano bars in post-WW II America. Our relationship is punctuated by a number of striking coincidences. In looking through his box, I found that he’d performed several times at the Bucket of Blood Saloon in Virginia City, a location I directly refer to in my piece Quadri da Una Città Fantasma from 2003. Was this simply a coincidence? Was it astrologically predetermined?

At the bottom of Larry’s file, meticulously handwritten in notebooks and on the backs of cardboard sheets, are Larry's playlists containing thousands and thousands of showtune titles - mostly pre-1928 tear-jerkers - all of which he could evidently play by heart on request. Larry's repertoire was incredible in all its flamboyant, memorized luxuriance.

Above all, his entire life is an invaluable lesson in humility for me. The aria I composed is inspired by “Prayer for an Aspiring Musician,”a printed text from his archive. Sooner than I could realize it, I was rapturously moved by a few clumsy, copyrighted devotional verses. Why? - Luciano Chessa

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