Virginia Splendore, a wonderful Italian Stick player, composer and teacher, was found dead on May 7, an apparent suicide. She was truly passionate about her music and about the Stick. For over twenty years through her distinctive and original music, and her humble and inspiring teaching, as well as her role as our representative in Italy, she fostered a community full of diverse and talented musicians. The loss of Virna, as she was also called, is an enormous one for all of us here. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, musical partners, friends, fans and students in this sad time.
We will keep this web page active as a living tribute for our memories of her, and also as a celebration of her music. Please send your thoughts about her, in English, Italian, whatever language you wish, as well as photos, videos, and links to online articles about her to us via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have already received lots of photos and tributes, and will put them us as quickly as possible.
Photos of Virginia
Please email us your photos of Virginia (to email@example.com) to add to the slideshow
(click any thumbnail).
I didn't make it. We didn't make it.
It's difficult to write about the premature loss of a friend, of an artist. It's almost impossible to
write about an announced tragic death. As with many great artists Virna was very sensitive and she
had an enourmous need of love, a deep love that only the loved person could give her.
A love that not even many friends like me could fill, a deep hole that unfortunately let her fall inside it.
Many of us, after this last difficult year spent trying to help Virna, were feeling this sense of inevitability of life, and now the frustration is great.
I was introduced to the Stick through her. Many years ago, watching one of her live sets in Rome. I perfectly remember the shocking sensation
of listening (and seeing) an absolutely unique music played with an absolutely fascinating instrument. After some years when
I finally bought my StickBass in 1999 started our firendship, and was exactly when we had an unforgettable trip Rome-Leeuwarden with her car driving to the European Stick seminar.
Since then I had the honour to play with her band "SplendoRe", first acoustic drums then midi drums through my StickBass,
together with Roberto Fiorucci and Raffaele Magrone, and to record her CD "Different Things" in my studio.
During two months of work spent arranging together, recording and editing the tracks of her CD,
I learned the difference between being a musician and doing the musician; Virna has been one of the few true Musicians that I personally met in my 30 years of musical career.
Musically she taught me so much, she hadn't a "soft" personality and in general,
it was difficult that she liked your "first take", rhythmic parts included, but usually she wasn't wrong about it.
Because of respect that I have towards compositions, I always tried to follow the composer's suggestions and with Virna everything was always as smooth as silk yarn, melody and rhythm lines were already inside her compositions. But the greatest musical satisfaction she gave me was the StickBass solo I improvised recording "Light Blue Dark Blue": she after asked Raffaele to transcribe every note to play it live with his clarinet.
The most beautiful thing she left to me is the latest, the passing of the baton to Francesca, my partner and her last Stick student, a gift which had within it the possibility of playing live again, all together, one day.
original Italian letter
Non ci sono riuscito. Non ci siamo riusciti.
E' difficile scrivere della scomparsa prematura di un amico, di un artista. E' quasi impossibile scrivere di una scomparsa tragicamente annunciata.
Come molti grandi artisti Virna era molto sensibile e aveva un enorme bisogno di affetto, di quell'affetto profondo che solo la persona amata può dare.
Un affetto che neanche tantissime persone amiche come me potevano colmare, un vuoto profondo che purtroppo alla fine l'ha inghiottita.
Tanti di noi, dopo questo ultimo anno difficile passato cercando di aiutare Virna, hanno provato questo sentimento di ineluttabilità
della vita, e oggi il senso di frustrazione è grandissimo.
Anche io sono stato introdotto allo Stick grazie a lei. Tanti anni fa, vedendo un suo concerto a Roma. Ricordo perfettamente la sensazione shockante di
ascoltare (e vedere) una musica assolutamente unica suonata con uno strumento assolutamente affascinante.
Quando poi comprai il mio StickBass nel 1999 iniziò la nostra amicizia ed esattamente con un indimenticabile viaggio
Roma-Milano-Leeuwarden, con la sua auto, per il seminario europeo di Stick.
Da allora ho avuto l'onore di suonare con la formazione "SplendoRe" prima la batteria e poi lo StickBass midi
insieme a Roberto Fiorucci e Raffaele Magrone, e registrare il cd "Different Things" nel mio studio.
In circa due mesi di lavoro passato arrangiando insieme, registrando ed editando i brani del suo cd, ho imparato
la differenza tra essere musicisti e fare il musicista; Virna era una dei pochissimi veri musicisti che ho incontrato in 30 anni di carriera musicale.
Musicalmente mi ha insegnato moltissimo, non aveva certo un carattere "facile" e in generale era difficile
che apprezzasse al primo colpo quello che facevi; ma sicuramente aveva le idee precise su quello che andava suonato, compresa la ritmica, e in genere non si sbagliava.
Per il rispetto che ho nei confronti del lato compositivo, ho sempre cercato di seguire le indicazioni di chi crea musica
e con Virna tutto è sempre filato liscio come l'olio, le parti ritmiche erano già "dentro" le sue composizioni.
Ma la più grande soddisfazione musicale che mi ha dato è stata per il solo di StickBass che ho improvvisato
registrando "Light Blue Dark Blue": successivamente chiese a Raffaele di ritrovarne ogni nota per eseguirlo dal vivo con il clarinetto.
La cosa più bella che mi ha lasciato è la più recente, il suo passaggio di testimone a Francesca,
la mia compagna e la sua ultima allieva di Stick, un dono che aveva al suo interno anche la possibilità di suonare ancora, tutti insieme, dal vivo un giorno.
from Emmett and Yuta
Yuta and I have been corresponding with Virna continually from the
late '80s to the present, also on the telephone, and she has always
been steadfast, nurturing and caring, not just to spread the good
news about The Stick in her own country, but also caring toward us
personally, as in all of her early hand written letters and more
recent email messages.
My first musical "encounter" with Virna was by way of tapes she sent
of a Stick arrangement of her song, "So Sweet". I was struck by an
unmistakable style of gently shifting harmonies, haunting ambiguities
as to key center, and graceful resolutions. It was her sense of
harmony and chord progressions that got to me - original, personal,
yet somehow in the line of Italian classical tradition.
Later in 1999 she released her first CD, "Guilty", in duo with
Italian Stickist Roberto Fiorucci, and again, especially on the first
song, "Nice Nose", I heard those moderate yet mysterious progressions.
In those days I sent hand written letters to our Stick friends and
customers, and Yuta would type her letters on an IBM electric
typewriter. We'd both keep the pink non-carbon copies. I always
gave Virna sincere praise for her uniquely styled Stick music and
encouraged her to record.
She in turn became our Stick sales representative for Italy, sold
many Sticks, taught many students (some of them now well known in the
world wide Stick community of players), organized large Stick
Seminars, and she introduced us to many colorful Italian musicians
and personalities. Later there were Stick feature articles by her
and about her, also some TV performances and of course her Italian
Stick Website and online presence.
Look at the art and symbolism of her photo she sent us for
the Players Gallery. It was part of a photo
session for the cover art of her "Guilty" CD. She is bathed in light
but her shadow takes on a stronger form - another paradox of the
We've all lost an artist, a skilled Stickist, a patient and loving
personality, a loyal friend, and a moving force in our Stick
community, and what we have left are pieces of the history of her
accomplishments, her music, and her personal influence on the rest of
"So Sweet", so sorry, Emmett and Yuta.
from Francesco Puddu
I first met Virna shortly after buying my Stick in 1990. I can't remember exactly how we got in touch: I was looking for other players in Italy, perhaps word got to her, or maybe Emmett gave her my number... I do remember our first meeting though!
I was still living with my parents and Virna came to meet me there. I was very curious about meeting another Stick player, and a woman at that too! Her name was also extraordinary: Virginia Splendore (something like Virginal Splendor!!!).
Anyway, Virna comes over and introduces herself (as Virna: I never heard her use Virginia) and asks me to play, which I did.
I can't remember the exact words, but it was along the lines of "this is horrible, you got it all wrong!!!" (which it was, and which I had)... this might seem brutal, but that was Virna: totally sincere. Always.
We made a deal: she would give me Stick lessons and I would give her bass lessons. I might have been more "classically trained" as a bass player, but I honestly don't think I had anything to teach Virna: she was great on electric bass too, in fact she had her own original voice on the instrument. I saw her play with her band and she was amazing both on Stick and on bass: she played chords on bass to great effect... and it was a fretless bass! I never asked her, but I think she either had perfect pitch or an incredibly well developed relative ear.
I can't recall having given a single bass lesson, but I do remember her Stick lessons: she thought me her deceptively easy songs and built the foundation of my Stick playing. For that I'm forever grateful.
One of my fondest memories is our trip to the Stick seminar in Belgium in 1991. We drove all the way from Rome on Virna's beat up car, listening to music and talking on the long journey. I was meant to drive too which I did for a short time: after I managed to take a few wrong turns and got lost in Luxembourg (honestly, who does that?!? That country is tiny, there's no space to get lost!), Virna drove the rest of the way.
The seminar was fantastic. Virna had been raving about Jim Lampi, who would be one of the teachers, and she was right: seeing Jim play changed my life forever, like it had changed Virna's a few years before.
I didn't see much of Virna during the seminar, I was beginner and she was advanced. After classes I would sneak out to meet a French girl whose name I've long forgotten; I would see Virna jamming with Kuno and Volker on my way out and meet them several hours later on my way back, still grooving. Quite a difference in commitment, but after all, they were advanced!!!
I'll never forget the trip home: we were running out of time and Virna had to get back to work the next day. Somehow she pulled some hidden forces from the car, and drove it at warp speed! I remember waking up on the autobahn, Virna flying past other cars, her left feet dangling out of the window.
She asked me later why I was so calm under such terrifying circumstances, but the truth was that I felt completely safe in her care.
We kept in touch, though we met very sporadically after I moved to Norway in 1996. Virna kept moving too, all the time. I visited her in her remote house on the hills, I can't remember exactly when, a few years ago. That was the last time I met her in person... who could have imagined!
We did keep in touch though, and I was always happy to refer perspective Stick players to her, knowing they would be in very good hands. She had such a passion about the Stick, it was her life really.
Her last message was on the 16th of April: she wanted to know what the live scene was like in Norway and if I had some places to suggest for gigs. I feel terrible that I didn't reply in time... since I've become a father of twins my response time has become really slow, as I was about to finally write to her, I was shocked and devastated to learn that my friend had passed away.
Virna's disappearance is a tragedy, not only for her friends and family, but for the entire Stick community. We all lost somebody truly great.
I wish I could have been there for her...
All the Best, Francesco
from Tom Griesgraber
Virna was a wonderful person with a real love for the Stick and music in general. I was fortunate to get to know her quite well over the years, at different seminars and shows both here and in Italy. As one does with things like this I suppose, I'm finding myself revisiting old memories of time spent with her.
On one of the Marotta/Griesgraber tours in Italy, we had several days off in Rome and Virna was kind enough to take us in for probably the better part of a week, so we could cut down on the hotel bills, even though she only had a tiny one bedroom apartment at the time. I got the couch and Jerry and I can still laugh about how he slept on a fold out bed in the kitchen, with his head against the stove and his feet against the refrigerator. But Virna was truly happy to have us and truly a generous host. We were happy to have her Stick duo open for several of our shows on the tour as well, including one we also did with The California Guitar Trio. Paul from the Trio had the idea to throw everyone together for a (his term) "We Are the World" jam at the end, which was great.. three Sticks, three guitars, and Jerry on drums.
I always felt like we shared some common tastes and habits with music, both of us loving the process of writing music and sharing a love of melody and odd meters. On one trip through Rome, she asked me to play on something she was working on. I did.. but it was one of the oddest countings I've ever come across. I think she was hearing the groove with something akin to say a 15/16 or even 31/32 meter. The downbeat kept taking me by surprise, but she knew exactly where it was. While I was tracking she was sort of dancing to the playback, physically conducting to keep me on track. Musically, she always knew what she liked and always knew what she wanted.
Last fall, when I went to Italy, I got in touch with Virna. She said she wasn't feeling well and hadn't been going out much, so we didn't get together. Last month, I was there again and we chatted a bit. She said she felt much much better. We had plans to get together along with some other Stick folks, but she had to cancel at the last minute and didn't join us.
from Bob Culbertson I just heard about Virna's leaving us. The best thing about traveling and playing is the people we meet. Virna was at the top of the list of friends I met overseas. Every time I even thought about traveling to anywhere in Europe, I tried to figure out how to see Virna. I was going to go to Switzerland with my whole family this August and the only other stop was to see Virna so she could meet my 3, 11 year old and wife. I told my wife just a month ago you HAVE to meet her, she has the best DRY sense of humor of anyone I know. My kind of person! Last month She told me she had a place in the country but was not sure if she would be there and what she was going to be doing. I decided because of the crazy costs and logistics of bringing my family even with a free place to stay in Switzerland for a week (thank You Olivier) it was too much. Now I am going alone for one week and will feel even more alone without seeing her.
Her Stick music was and is 2 things, BEAUTIFUL! and more importantly VIRNA. My favorite musicians are ones that when I hear them it sounds like........ them. She was unique and special. I remember about 6 years ago staying with her and hearing a unique sound from her playing. I told her at that moment let's make a duet. We went into the country and taped the song. I was a very special moment for me. I still hear the sound and it influences my music to this day.
Mainly, I think of the friend I/we all lost. Virna, I will miss talking to you over coffee. I will miss your quick wit and humor even in the face of trouble. I will miss the opportunity to exchange artistic expression. I will miss you as a good friend. I give you all my love.
from Jim Reilly
A couple of years ago there was a terrible earthquake in Italy.Pretty quickly news spread around the Stick world that it was near the town where Virna was living. I remember checking Facebook and within hours news had come from Virna, through Irene (I think) that everything was fine. At the time I remember thinking how amazing that whole social network thing was and how incredible it was that within moments the world could shrink to the size of that literal global village.
Last Sunday I was doing my usual evening email check and there were a whole bunch of Facebook notifications that people had been posting on Virna’s wall and commenting on her videos. There were too many, something was up. I opened one at random. The globalization, the technologically enabled melting of borders that brought me joy and relief after the earthquake in 2009 broke my heart when the news this time was so very, very tragic.
The first thing I did (actually the second – the first thing I did was email Dan Chapman and ask him if he was seeing what I was seeing online) was to travel back to Charlottesville and the seminar I did with Virna, Greg and Bob in 2004. At the time I was collecting interviews for stick.com and that weekend was my chance to catch Virna live.It's so much better to do interviews face to face. The phone works, but live and in person catches so much more.
We were all staying at Greg's, a beautiful place in the rolling hills outside of Charlottesville, woods, a couple or horses nearby, fresh air, peace. The seminar was over, it was just dusk and I sat down with Virna on Greg's front porch. We were exhausted from the weekend, creatively spent and in that headspace where you’re just too tired to put on airs. I think we poured some wine (I’m sure we poured some wine), I turned on my portable digital recorder and we talked.
The transcript is here Jim interviews Virna and it’s good. One of my favourites actually, but the real record of the talk is what's in-between the words. What the words can't convey is the honesty, humility, joy, love, beauty, passion, dedication, discipline, heart that came through when Virna spoke of music. She had that way of connecting that can only be genuine. It's the relationship that can only happen when the artist puts their heart on the line, when they open themselves up to the true voice inside and let that voice out into the world.
Virna the musician couldn’t seem to help but let that true inner musical voice out into the world. Her Stick music is some of my favourite music, not merely good Stick music. The music is vulnerable – that's both the danger and the reward. I think that in so many senses Virna was her music. She was always overwhelmingly true and leading with her heart. And if I can be so bold as to say her music was vulnerable then it's fair to say that she was vulnerable too. That's the danger and the reward of living from your heart.
I'm incredibly sad that Virna is gone. I wrote on her Facebook page that the world is a little less beautiful without her. That is true. While we do have her music and wonderful memories, those are poor substitutes for the real thing. Face to face is always better.
from Greg Howard
The first time I heard Virginia's music was in the cafe at the PARNAS Cultural Center in Leeuwarden, Holland, at my first European Stick Seminar in 1999. She and and a contingent of Italian players including her duet partner, Roberto Fiorucci had driven a great distance to be there and arrived just in time for the first concert. Each night after working with students there were concerts where soloists and small groups would perform.
I had never imagined that Stick duo music could sound like this. The way the two Sticks blended together, with sweet open chords against dissonant rhythmic clusters. Simple melodies over slowly evolving interweaving polyrhythmic arpeggios, always with a slight edge, but natural as could be. The sound was subtly magical, and totally original. The music created a sense of obvious beauty challenged from underneath by vague and persistent tensions. It was really a perfect metaphor for Virginia, a beautiful person, a beautiful woman, a kind and generous spirit, but who also felt life's frustrations and cruelties deeply.
As I got to know Virginia , I understood that beauty and the relationship between the musicians was always the goal of her music, a refreshing departure from the chops monsters and tone hounds that populate the instrumental music world. When she played it was always precise and deliberate, always doing justice to the music instead of for self-gratification.
This was how she was, modest, focused, clear-eyed about how things should be, but not pushy about it.
The duo format suited her well. She seemed to have a great ability to focus in on one person at a time, and to dive into relationships with people, musical and personal. My experience was always that she asked very little of others, but gave a great deal. She never put herself at the center of things, but she became the sun around which the Italian Stick world revolved, turning on so many people to the instrument, and always in a very open and supportive way.
After the two seminars in The Netherlands, she organized one in Milan in May of 2001. Thirty Stick players were there, including guest of honor, Tony Levin. She was so happy to have pulled this off.
I visited Italy twice more after that, and each time Virginia was a wonderful host to me, even in very humble circumstances. Many times we would be jammed into a small car with equipment, fighting traffic. She always did her best to arrange performances, and to introduce me to Italian players and to her friends. Once, after a few days of hanging out, I was probably getting on her nerves (as anyone who knows me well can attest) and she taught me a great expression for how critical I can be,
"Greg, you always find the hair in the egg!"
Whenever I find myself being unnecessarily critical I hear her voice in my head, and I know that she is right. It was the kind of honest friendly comment that can be rare from our peers, who may hold back out of politeness, or competitiveness. If Virginia knew you were her friend, then you know how she felt.
When you hang out a lot, you et to share a lot of meals. Virginia made a mean frittata, and she also taught me to take the bitter green center out of a garlic clove, and how to make the creamy froth on top of an espresso without milk. Her friend Peve in La Spezia introduced me to the wonders of panigacci. And I'll never forget the delight with which André Pelat discovered real Italian cuisine for the first time during our travels aorund Italy in 2004.
Virginia's personal life was a real trial for her, full of storms and setbacks. And in the time I knew her she also suffered from many circumstances that could only be called bad luck. The last time I saw her was at a moment of triumph. Her band, SplendoRe, had just performed a fantastic set at the 2004 Allaire Festival in France. She was really on top of the world. I will always wish that I had done more to stay in touch with her. It is my good luck to have met her and to have gotten to know the person behind all that beautiful music, music that comes back into my head at just the right quiet moment.
From Edwin Paanakker
I met Virna in 2007 through myspace. I responded to those marvelous tracks she had in her myspaceplayer. I bought her CD and told her I was a musician myself. She asked me to send her a song. So I did. Within 1 hour she sent me back what she had recorded on top of it. A marvelous job! I made (with help of my good friend Frans Haarmeijer) a “part 2” version of it. Virna really loved how I made her Stick sound and asked me right away to produce her next solo CD. That was the start of a very intense online cooperation! We managed to record the CD, INNIG. In the summer of 2008 I went to her place in Casaprota to finish the production and we met for the first time. When I look back now, a great time indeed!! The CD was never released though, and Virna regretted that very much!
About 1 month ago (april 2011) I made a video for fun of 1 of the songs of INNIG. The song Premier Midi with guest musician Michael Manring. When Virna saw that video she thanked me for giving her such a great gift! What she meant was, I found a way to let the world know about INNIG through videos! She hadn’t thought about that possibility. We made 3 videos in the past 3 weeks, and we had plans on making videos of all the songs. 13 in total. But then came this terrible news out of the blue……………..
I'm going to finish what we both started though, I’ll try to make as much videos as I can of those songs.
Virna's youtube account will continue to exist. I spoke with her brothers about that, and they like the idea too! But I can’t do magic and make videos quickly. I need time!! .
Virna, may your soul find the peace it so desperately seeks!!
from Frank Leurs
It came to me as a blast, to hear of Virna's death; I met her a couple of years ago in Allaire, France. I liked her rightaway; as a Stick-player and one of the guys, she moved, like business as usual, through this typical male thing the Stick community seems/looks like to be...a performer with great skills and a very nice person as well.
A few years later me and Ron Baggerman were invited to Virna's seminar in Rome....i never felt more welcome when i met her there; had a nice gig in a little club and had a "fantastick" evening!
Later I contacted virna again via facebook....she was down, even depressed...we "talked" a lot and became involved in a more private way....she invited me and my family to her new house in Rome and in return we invited her to our house in Holland. sadly it never happened...too late.
Next month, June, she should come to Holland to do some teaching at the tappingfestival in Zaandam, Holland. We were looking forward to see virna again. also to cheer her up a little and to have a good time with so many people who loved and respected her deeply. We're very sorry virna won't come this time......
All best wishes and strength to Virna's family, friends and relatives and everybody in the Stick-community. from Ron Baggerman
Virna's passing away has left me, like many of you, very sad. Although it doesn't make up for her loss, I nurture the memories I have of her.
The 1st time I met Virna was on the Leeuwarden Stick Seminar 1999 in Holland. She taught there Stick together with Greg, Rob Rieter, Remco Helbers and me. At one of the two Swiss seminars (organized by Olivier Vuille) a couple of years later, she asked me to play a tune with her on stage, which was in a odd time signature, which she could sound very natural. I was delighted to play with her on this mystic kind of music. A couple of years later she invited me and Jim Lampi to teach at the Italian Stick seminar in Rome. And Frank Leurs was also invited to sing with me. Virna gave us a hospitable reception, and made us feel home straight away.
When I stayed in her apartment for the Rome seminar, we started chatting about vocals and the Stick. She said that she would loved to be able to play Stick and sing at the same time in front of an audience. I told her that she just should do that. She told me that she thought she couldn't sing. I insisted that she should start singing anyway just to enjoy and not to be too critical too soon in the process. I didn't think she would go through with it....but a couple of weeks later she asked me for the score of "Angel Eyes", since she did hear it often performed by Frank Leurs and me. Now there's a video of her playing and singing beautifully this tune on youtube.
I also recieved this week a tune of Virna which Erwin Paanakker did send me. This one was meant for her upcoming CD.You probably will hear it later, it's a mesmerizing tune, where Virna plays very Virnalesque, I mean that she plays with many of her trademark arpeggios and sings very clear and pure about time and memories. Since I recieved it , I'm playing it over and over, and get tears in my eyes. Not just because she's gone, but she sings it in a way it touches your soul. Irene Orleansky sings very tastefully the 2nd voice on this tune. I feel blessed to have gotten to know her, and will miss her so much!!!!
Virna: Thanks you for touching so many hearts with your music, I'm proud to have been a witness.
from Umberto Sorbo
I met Virna by phone in 1998 and I met her in Milan in 2001 at the seminar organized by her. I took a few lessons since then and we always kept in touch. Always friendly and helpful, even when recently in early May helped me solve a little problem to the pickup of my Stick.
In 2009, Virna told me that she was called by a journalist from RAI to appear in a broadcast. Despite her recent surgery on the hand after a tendon injury, she was very happy and I did my compliments, telling her that I would record the transmission on my VHS. To that phone call follows her email that informed us of the news (see below).
The video is now on YouTube with an interview that begins at 5:20 min:
A volte ritornano
email del 04/12/09
gente che siate capitati per caso (frullate questa email ora) o meno
(leggete e supportate) nella mia rubrica,
nonstante la recente operazione alla mano dopo l'infortunio al
tendine, il caso mi ha voluto rimettere in braccio lo Stick, volente o
Domenica 6 dicembre su Rai Due nel contenitore Rai Notte, programma
"Inconscio, Magia e Psiche" puntata Rose Rosse in onda alle 2.00 circa
(puo' essere anche che inizi con mezzora di ritardo)....alle 2... DI
NOTTE!!!! (e te pareva... lo so, ma tant'e')... compariro' dopo anni
sugli schermi di Mamma Rai... una mini intervista completamente
pilotata e un totale fake in playback, ma considerato che la mano
ancora non mi funziona, il sistema impietoso delo showbiz mi e'
va be' se vi va tirate fuori gli obsoleti vhs e vedete che potete fa',
non m sono rivista dopo la registrazione ma secondo me vi fate due
saludos e mai abbastanza grazie per l'attenzione
TO VIRNA WITH LOVE
from Dan Chapman
Total run time: 4:56 min
This is a video I made with Virna Splendore who is a persona molto bella. We arranged a Skype interview on 7/17/10 from her rustic studio in the hills above Rome with me in Los Angeles. We had a camera person there shooting her answers and she sent me the tapes soon after. I was very excited to edit it because it went so well. But it involved converting her european PAL video format to our NTSC and I was fighting to keep my own artistic and financial head above water. So I put it off till later. The first time I viewed her tapes was the day after I heard the tragic news.
I first met her at the World Stick Concert in San Jose 2003, where she was one of the respected lecturers and one of 10 performers on stage, the only female Stick player there. It was my very first shoot for the documentary.
She is a rare human being, who plays with so much focus and intensity. She will be deeply missed. With much love lost so tragically. Right now I'm thinking that maybe she was too pure for this planet. It's only now that she's gone do I realize how much she meant to me.
She lived in such a unique habitat, high up in the mountains in the remote area of Casaprota, above Rome, almost like a recluse. I thought she was wonderful, sensitive, gentle, giving and focused in our talk. She had just gotten out of a hospital in Italy for a month because of depression. She was so inspired by our interview on Skype. She wrote this to me right afterwards: "thanks a lot Dan, you can't imagine how good it has been for me to do the interview, it has brought me some fresh air and I felt "with my things" I felt "with me" for a while. It remembered me that I love music. today I am alone again and to stay alone is not good for my status at the moment, but I fight it recalling of yesterday, reminding me that I am a musician, and I can employ my time doing music though I have no gigs.
I hope I'll recovery and I'll have the "push" to take a flight and come to visit you to help you to do your documentary
that would be a good cure for me.
ciao for now
from Tony Levin
Like all of us, I've been shocked and saddened by the news of Virna passing. Her vitality and passion for music and for the Stick was such that she became memorable to all who met her, and it's hard to imagine the music world without her. Virna's generosity and enthusiasm, about music and about life, was the first thing I was struck by, years ago, when we met at a clinic she organized. Only later did I hear her playing, and realize that she has a great, and unique musicality, and had been injecting it into the Stick community. Her many projects have shared the spotlight with other players, but always with the underlying quality of music she inherently embodies. What more can you say about a player being great. I'm lucky to have known her, to have been inspired by her, and like us all, I will miss her greatly. t.l.
From Irene Orleansky
Virginia and I first contacted each other with an idea to create a female Stick band. Our idea turned into our duo Irene&Virginia. I first came to visit Virginia at her home in Casaprota in 2007. Our musical collaboration grew into profound and intimate friendship. I came to Italy to look for musical collaboration, but in addition to this, I found a true friend of my soul. Virginia was a sensitive person, generous and caring about those she loved. Her home in Casaprota became my home, and her neighbours became my neighbours. Our European tour was the time of true joy and happiness, when we not only shared music together but also pushed each other to new creative heights.
I will always remember you Virnush, your smile, all the nights we spent together talking, all the places we visited, your little wooden studio full of instruments, the way you drive your car like a racer, the way you roll your cigarettes, the way you call me "Bananush" or "Testa di Policarbonato" When I play your beautiful pieces I will think of you, and when I play the Oud that you bought for me I will think of you, and when I drink Moscato or Pina Colada I will think of you, and when I sit at the sea shore I will think of you. I will be with you in my prayers and meditations. Peace and love to you Virnush, and thank you for everything!
from Francesca Diodati
One day I asked her if she preferred to be called Virna or Virginia.
"Virginia," she said, this is actually my name even though many call me Virna."
Knowing Virginia was the most particular meeting of my life. I knew everything and nothing about her.
I shared with her almost every day this year, but we have done almost nothing together.
I did not even have time to hear her playing a gig. Yet she taught me what it means to be a Stick player,
and although I still have a long way to go, I hope not to disappoint her.
Almost a year ago, me and Andrea Moneta were in her music house in Casaprota, when they started playing something I was immediately carried away.
"When I'll have the money to pay the lessons, will you teach me to play the Stick?" I asked her.
"I’ll teach you now for free," she said to me "and I'll give you one of my Stick."
It was the second time that I saw her.
I was seriously intimidated during the lessons, so she was always finding some trick to make me forget myself and let the notes drive me, so I could play. One afternoon I wasn't able to play a section, then she began to speak to me while I was trying. I was distracted to reply her and at that moment I was able to play.
"Look, I fooled you!" she said with her most beautiful smile that I saw in all these months. "If you don’t think about it, you're not afraid to play and you can do it!".
I wanted to help her to do the same in her life, without thinking too much, without getting caught in a pain, in the web of thousand things without sense, or in anything that should be in a different way, but it isn't.
It did not work.
I recently posted a video to thank her in which I play the tune "Flamingoes" with my brand new Stick. She told me "Do you realize that you're the second woman in Italy who plays the Stick ?". Now I would say to her "fuck! Virginia, it must remain this way".
What I would like to mention here is that Virginia was a sensitive artist and a tender soul.
She was able to recognize the art in each sign and she put a little creativity in everything she did, even in fitting out the bathroom at home!
Music was her most brilliant and beautiful expression. Her music had all that peace that she hadn't inside her, and gave off all the joy that she did not seem to find it anywhere.
So I hope that her music can keep playing loud and long throughout the world, transforming the pain into love and Splendore.
from Jim Lampi
Virna was such a passionate person about life and music.
She is always one of the friends I play for and one of the reasons I play music.
I'll miss her greatly as will all the people she touched.
from Olivier Vuille
Virna is a very important person in my "stick life". I first met her in 2001 at the Milano Stick Seminar she had organised. We had such a good time. The event was a big success (more than 30 stickists attended). She had an eye and an ear for everybody. Having just gone through a very serious health issue, I can say that the Stick and Virna's "go for it" attitude were a big help in my healing process.
The second time I met Virna was at the Swiss Stick seminar in 2003. This time I was organising. Virna immediately said YES to the idea and I know she was the main reason why no less than 7 italian stickists attended (we called them the "italocrew" : Andrea Tolin, Giovanni Bellosi, Antonio Cappadona, Nicola Carrai, Marcello Cravini, Marco Boeri, Gabriele Palombo). We also had Jim Meyer from Canada, Mathias Sorof, Rochus Knobel, Sonja Schellenberg and Thomas Simon from Germany, Lionel Cretegny, Jean-Alexis Montignies, Damian Eyholzer and Tobias Reber from Switzerland, and Mark Butler from UK.
Ron Baggermann, Jim Lampi, André Pelat and Virna were teaching and performed a fantastic Stick Night in La Chaux-de-Fonds. I will never forget the fabulous moments we all shared with Virna at the end of the day in the garden at my house. The fabulous meals we ate at the school where the seminar was taking place. The trip in the "Stick Bus" to La Chaux-de-Fonds and the Dinner at Café Petit Paris before Virna took the stage to play alone and with drummer Steve Grant and/or Ron, Jim and André.
Virna was fun. Everybody loved her and she gave a lot to all of us. What wonderful memories. I will cherish them until I reach the other side where Virna will ask me to play my arpeggios more fluently – "let these notes ring until you hit the next one" - no doubt about this.
Thank you Virna et "Au revoir". You and your music live in our hearts.
from Steve Adelson
There are times in life, when you meet another human being and instantly you sense a specialness, something extraordinary. Being part of the Stick community, circumstances brought me to know Virna Splendore and I am so grateful for it. Virna was that special person, a good soul, a deep spirit and a friend from the heart. What always grabbed me most was her sincerity, her emotions toward music and her environment.
You could see it in her eyes, you could sense it in her being.
I had the pleasure of hanging and chatting with Virna on three or four different occassions and she left a big impression on me. She was so wonderful at Bob Culbertson's World Stick Extravaganza in 2003. She was very proud to be one of the "gurus" for the attending students. At the evening concert, she asked me to join her on one of her performance songs. During my solo on her compostion (in G minor), it was very gratifying to see her glance in approval, give an affirmative nod and share a musical linking bond.
I remember her excitement at meeting Joe Zawinul at a NAMM convention. Virna was a fan and she did a great solo Stick version of his tune "Birdland". I loved listening to her speak, the Italian accent, the sincerity, the emotion in her voice. And of course she had that famous Italian awareness of style. Check out the profile photo with long shadow. It's rare to meet someone in your lifetime who can leave such a positive impression in just a few encounters. We communicated via Facebook recently and we had a joyous conversation. It was shocking to hear the news. Virna will be missed for what she brought to all she met and for the person she was. I send love to her spirit which will be eternal.
from Guillermo Cides
I send to all Virna's friends and family a big and warm hug, and I know that it will be not enough to cover the cold we feel when somebody we love goes away from this life. Today we all are in silence together. In some way, we love one each other right now because we love this life through Virna's life.
from Andrea Tolin
My name is Andrea and I am a friend of Virginia, not a close one, but for a period of time I'd like to think we were. I took lessons from her starting in 2002 for a couple of years (then I quit) and then we stayed in contact till last year.
I'm extremely saddened by what happened, still in disbelief, can't find other words to describe it, especially in another language. I have many memories of the time spent with her, mostly unrelated to the Stick itself, small things, laughs or big discussions on the meaning of life or love. She was an incredibly sensible person, somebody would say too much, while I'm probably too down to earth, and our discussions were always interesting, sometimes heated, like two worlds colliding. But when I listen to her music, like in this precise moment, I leave the earth too and fly to other worlds.
While I was asking to learn some of her stuff, she was very humble about it, always telling me to listen to Jim Lampi, André Pelat, or Greg Howard, all the time, all the time: "You should try that, I'm not good", "C'mon Virna, I can't try that NOW, they live on Mars!" , "Mars is in you head, you should try, you should definitely try, listen to this Greg tune or that Lampi groove...try the basics". The basics ? Oh god....
There are many Virna compositions that I like, actually most of them, but If I have to choose one to define her as a person, not as a musician, there's only one I can think of: "Absent Lover" from the "Different Things" CD. That's the one, that's Virginia to me, totally there, a very sad love song, a search for love, in the deepest, true meaning of the word. And then I imagine her playing it to the end and have a big smile, that big contrast.
Thanks for all, Virginia.
from Giovanni Bellosi
Ciao Virva, I cry for you. Fly in beautiful word of serenity.
from Glenn Poorman
My first exposure to Virna's music was the tune "L'ile Du Jour" which was included on one of the Tappistry compilations. This was one of those tunes that spoke to me immediately and over the years I've dabbled in covering the tune on several occasions but never managed to do it justice. In the years since then, I've gotten to know much more of Virna's music and she has gotten to know mine which resulted in many email exchanges between us. One of my goals was always to get her here to Michigan for one of our seminars.
In 2003, Virna contacted me about an article I'd written about the Rane SP 13 Stick preamp. She found the article very helpful and wanted to work with me on an Italian translation for the Megabass website making sure that the technical details translated correctly. We spent a couple of months shooting emails back and forth at all hours along with some telephone conversations. She was incredibly easy going and it was obvious to me that in addition to her love for music, she also had a great love for passing what she knew onto others.
Virna was a real jewel in our little corner of the music world. We'll miss her!
from Boaz Bar Levy
I'm a Chapman Stick player from Israel. I have contacted Virna via the internet after listening to her music and found a wonderful person.
On April 2005 I went to Frakfurt Musikmesse , and to my surprise I bumped into Virna playing the Stick, promoting the SR Amps.
I took some pictures and some clips..and now sending them in Memory of Virna.
Boaz Bar Levy, Tel-Aviv, Israel
from Fabio Anile
Back from the funeral and I feel the need to leave some words about Virginia.
I meet her in 2002: I was looking for a stick and after getting in contact with her, I discovered she was living 200m far from my house, in Rome !
She invited me in her house - we were strangers - and after a while we started talking like long-time friends, which I immediately noticed.
Well...I didn't buy the stick at that time, neither later, but I was quite sure we could get real friend over the time. I liked her.
But years passed by, she moved in Casaprota and we meet again in 2009. On a day she called me and we started spending time together.
At some point I involved Virginia to play in my new trio and she was happy to do it.
We started reharsing in my house almost every week, chatting, eating food, listening music, smoking cigarettes...
Other musicians can understand what I mean: it's that kind of situation where your musical partner could become part of your life and this is exactly what happened: I got a new sister, a musician sister.
I started loving her, even when we fight in a discussion or when we had different ideas, as it happened talking on the 'making of' of her "Inniglich" video or as it happened for my "*****" album, that was sitting on my desk, waiting for a 'label', while she was pushing me to have it released in someway.
The night before leaving, she sent me a text message: "In the last days, I ike to fall asleep listening on the i-Pod the music I like: this night I choose "*****". Goodnight".
It's so rare having such an encouragement, so precious, so sweet.Thank you Virna.
But now you are gone and I'm still in tears.
I wanted more, more time. More chatting, more music. I wanted to see the raimbow painted in your room, I wanted to take a ride with our motorcycles and definitively I wanted to see you again on a stage, embracing your stick.
We had plans that will never come true.
I can do just one thing in your memory and I've done it: I've just released my album on the internet, as you wanted.
Bye Virna, one day we'll be together again.
from Gabriele Palombo
I've met Virna on 2002 when she came in Sanremo (my town) to show me the Chapman stick, after i met her in some seminary and for private lessons and i spend some time with her trying to get the better of her experience and music knowledge.. she's always for me a point of reference for anything about the stick... she was a musician with a rare sensibility and musicality, she's my favourite and i love her compositions.. i saw her many time that i like her music and she smile me when talk about the "Virna sound"...
She will be always on my mind..
Play with angels for us dear Virna...
from Nicola Carrai
I had my first contact with Virna in 2000, looking in internet for a used Stick to buy. She gave me the right suggestion and then I bought my first Stick.
Then, when my wife (by chance) discovered that the person who was working with her was Virna (because she was talking about the Stick to someone on the phone), that was the funny way we had our first phone call.
Then I took my first Stick lessons from Virna. She was passionate, kind and patient at the same time. She was always ready to say "yes" to help or to give suggestions.
A nice person. We live in different towns, so then I only met her at some seminars and at a guitar exibition in Sarzana, where the Stick was showed. When we were meeting, it always was as if we met just the day before. It was easy to feel ok with Virna. I lately heard her on the phone because I needed some strings. She was kind as usual... I will always take a little bit of Virna with me, while playing Stick... or not.
Grazie Virna. Ciao.
photos from Dirk Wacker of Premier Guitar Magazine
Virna played at the Frankfurt MusikMesse many times, at SR amps, BassLab and Vovox booths. Dirk Wacker interviewed Virna for Premier Guitar, and the interview was published in 2008. You can read it here:
Virna Interview in Premier Guitar
from Lorenzo Spicci
No words , just deep sadness and loss ...
She've always been kind and helpful with me, showing the best of her love to life and music .
No words ... I just want to be here with all of you to remind her ...
See you in Paradise,
from Aldo Stanzani
After few months of not receiving any email from you
Today I received the news.
It is a sad day for me.
I deeply respect you and I will miss our emails about the Stick and your willingness to teach me.
I am deeply sorry I could not attend your lesson
last time you had a chance few years ago, while i was in Italy
i am going to miss you and your smile but i have a you in my heart
as an amazing musician and a good friend.
play for angels as you always did in my eyes.
from Manrico de Iacovo
E' sempre difficile, quasi impossibile, trovare la cosa giusta da dire in casi come questo...
quello che posso apportare è una piccola testimonianza e un grande rammarico.
Il rammarico è quello di non averla mai incontrata e conosciuta di persona,cosa che ero sicuro prima o poi sarebbe accaduta.
Avrei tanto voluto esprimerle il mio rispetto e la mia ammirazione e,perché no,avrei tanto voluto suonare insieme a lei...
sarebbe stato un modo bellissimo per condividere le passioni che avevamo in comune,la musica e il Chapman Stick e magari scoprirne tante altre.
La piccola testimonianza sono le nostre chiacchierate al telefono. Ricordo una persona piacevole,estremamente disponibile e cortese.
Una persona che raccontava avvenimenti e dispensava preziosi consigli con grande passione.
Ricordo la sua voce dal tono dolce e lievemente malinconico...
Ciao Virna...pace e amore a te ed un forte e sincero abbraccio a tutti coloro che ti hanno amata e che ancora continuano a farlo.
Virginia's Stick story, in her own words
I met the Stick in september 1985, I was a bad student of classical guitar, piano, clarinet and who remembers what... I loved the bass, but no way for me to buy one: for my mother it was out of her concept of music. I used to read an italian Music magazine, where a photo of Tony Levin playing the Stick was to adverstise the instrument saying that the instrument was going to be at the Music Trade Show in MIlan... at the time I lived in Milan, so I went to the Trade Show.
At the time the importer of the Stick was Willy Davoli and he had a Stickplayer to demonstrate the instrument... I arrived at the booth with already a littkle crowd to cover any possible sight, but I dig until I conquered a front place where I could see and listen to Jim Lampi playing... it was a love at first sight... not for Jim, but for the Stick :-) ... and for Jim's way of playing the instrument. That has signed my way of playing like an imprinting for the ducks of Laurence.
I went to Jim and I took his address in France to contact him for tape lessons and I went to Mr Davoli and I asked to buy an instrument right there. I was 20 years old and I had no job, so to buy my first Stick I sold all my instruments. I still own that Stick, a 10 string Ironwood with Stickup and now I use it for rental for the newbies who want to try it to check if it's the right instruments for them.
For the first couple of years I did not played much, I learned how to play songs but I did not put the whole thing together, while instead I teached to play what I learned to a friend of mine who was with me at the trade show and bought a Stick one year later.
Then I moved to Rome and to play was the last thing I could do, and I tought that it was the end of music for me, but instead after 2 years I started to play back the bass with a hard rock band of teenagers, and after a while I introduced the Stick. To play hard rock with a band of teeneagers 10 years younger than me was not my cup of tea, though I have a very nice remembereing of that time.
So I started to play by myself the Stick and I composed my first tune. Contemporary I tighten my acquaintance with Emmett and Yuta and I became the official agent for the Stick in Italy.
The most important moment for me has been the first Stick Seminar in 1990 in Belgium. There I realized I had become a musician on the Stick. Since than I never stopped playing it and teaching it and I also started to make demos and to try to spread the word about this instrument that at the time before the internet Era was still too unknown and when known always as a distorted legend. I joined another Stick seminar and the next seminars I found myself to be a teacher instead of a student.
Now after years my life is totally dedicated to music, I left all the other jobs, and I am one of The Stickplayers in Italy, I think one of the firsts for sure. Thanks to the Stick my self confidence as musician grown and I found myself sharing stages with well known musicians and to collaborate with many other musicians not known but who teached me a lot.
And Jim Lampi is now my good friend and always my best Stickplayer.
The Stick it's a sort of lifestyle. And I feel proud to be among those who started to make the History and Tradition of it.