The pianist writes perfect music to accompany Italian wines

“I’ll write the music, you’ll provide the wine,” says Pamela Chilvers as she strolls through the fields of Ronchi Di Cialla’s vineyard.

The classical music composer has just had lunch with the Rapuzzi family and is walking with his son Ivan in their vineyard in northern Italy.

As they walk, he asks her to write a series of piano pieces to accompany the wines produced by the vineyard.

Now, five months later, she has finished the compositions and is expected to return to Italy next year to perform them for the family.

Pamela, of Highmoor Road, Caversham, first visited the vineyard during a wine tasting with friends at Phyllis Court Club in Henley in 2019.

“I like wine, so I thought it would be an interesting thing to do,” she said.

The group visited six vineyards but Ronchi Di Cialla stood out for her. The vineyard was taken over by Ivan’s parents, Paulo and Dina Rapuzzi, in the 1970s, when it had been abandoned.

The couple restored it and started making wine using traditional methods.

“They do everything by hand,” says Pamela. “A lot of other wineries are very commercial and use a lot of machinery.”

Ivan took over the operation but his mother still attended lunch.

Pamela says, “They really made us feel like guests rather than potential customers. Dina doesn’t speak a word of English but she was always smiling.”

Before leaving, Pamela exchanged numbers with Ivan and gave him a copy of her CD Change locationa collection of classic pieces she released in 2014.

A few weeks later, he texted her to say he loved it and that she should come back the next time she was in Italy. Two years have passed, with all of Pamela’s attempts to return home thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic.

She was finally able to visit us in May this year when she performed at a concert in the city of Trieste with a choir singing Mozart’s Requiem.

Ivan was in the audience and met Pamela after her performance when he gave her a magnum of Ronchi Di Cialla red wine.

Two days later, she spent the afternoon visiting the vineyard again and had lunch before going for a walk in the hillside vineyards with Ivan.

Pamela says, “It’s a great view because you’re surrounded by hills. It was a beautiful day and the weather was fantastic.

Ivan asked him to compose music that could accompany his wine.

“He was talking about how he often associates wine with food, but it only combines one sense – taste,” says Pamela.

“That’s where the music came in. If you were to listen while tasting the wine, you would use a different sense.”

After returning home, Pamela set to composing – with a case of wine sent by Ivan for inspiration.

She finished the last of her three pieces last week and adapted each of them to the different wines.

Her piece for Cialla Bianco, a white wine, is played in a high register to reflect its “crisp and light” taste, while she uses “richer chords” played in B-flat for Schioppettino, a heavy red.

His final piece is for the Picolit Cialla dessert wine and is written in major chords to complement the sweeter taste.

Pamela will return to Ronchi Di Cialla in March to perform the music at a wine tasting organized by Ivan and his mother for industry experts.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” she says. “I spent so much time composing these pieces and can’t wait to show them to the family.”

Shirley M. Pinder