Composer, double-bass player, orchestral conductor, born in Parma in 1959, Roberto Bonati is a qualified musician as well as a graduate in literary studies and in the history of music.
He studied composition under Gianfranco Maselli and Herb Pomeroy, orchestral conduction under Kirk Trevor. On the Italian musical scene since the 1980’s, he has a long experience as solo performer and as leader of various ensembles (from quartets to the ParmaFrontiereOrchestra), alongside Giorgio Gaslini (from the Globo Quartet, to the Proxima Centauri Orchestra, to the Chamber trio with Roberto Dani) and Gianluigi Trovesi, as well as with prestigious chamber and symphonic formations like the Garbarino and Quartettone ensembles and the Italian State Radio-TV [RAI] Orchestras of Milan and Turin.
With Musica Reservata and Rara Quartet he has been toured Italy and Europe several times while, in 1995, as leader of the Silent Voices Quartet (Stefano Battaglia-pianoforte, Riccardo Luppi-flutes and saxophones, Anthony Moreno-drums), he recorded the Silent Voices CD. Since 1996, he has been Artistic Director of the ParmaJazz Frontiere festival. In 1998, he founded the ParmaFrontiere Orchestra for which he composed I Loves you Porgy (1998), dedicated to the music of George Gershwin, Le Rêve du Jongleur: recollections and portents of the Via Francigena (1999), based on re-readings of mediaeval music, …poi nella serena luce… [then in the serene light] , homage to Attilio Bertolucci (2000), The Blanket of the Dark, a Study for Lady Macbeth (2001), A Silvery Silence, fragments from Moby Dick (2003), all warmly acclaimed in Italy and abroad. In 2000, commissioned by the Tunis Festival de la Medina, he presented Chants des Troubadours with his Chamber Ensemble (Lucia Minetti-voice, Riccardo Luppi-flutes and soprano sax, Mario Arcari-oboe, Vincenzo Mingiardi-guitar, Stefano Battaglia-pianoforte, Fulvio Maras-percussions).
In 2005, he produced Un Sospeso Silenzio, dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini, the world premiere of which was held during the ParmaJazz Frontiere festival and after that performed at the International Festival of Contemporary Cinema in Mexico City. Fiori di neve written in 2007 was inspired by the Haiku (hai: to go on pilgrimage, to travel– ku: poetry) literary tradition and performed by the Haiku Ensemble. This work aims at paring down the musical material to enter into profound dialogic communion with the voice as an instrument, something which has been developed further thanks to his collaboration with Diana Torto. In 2011, he wrote Tacea la notte placida [The placid night was silent] from which stemmed the discographic project in honour of Verdi entitled Bianco il vestito nel buio [White the dress in darkness]. Over the years, Roberto Bonati has developed a very special language all his own achieving synthesis between the various musical idioms he has frequented.
Bonati’s music is constantly informed by expressions ranging from contemporary to jazz, a kind of jazz that is never a genre, but a refined language capable of fashioning intense emotional layers and re-establishing poetry and culture in a different key, thanks also to his highly specific way of availing himself of the vocal instrument, especially the female voice. After an initial collaboration with Parma’s “A. Boito” Conservatory in 1994, in 2002, he became professor of Jazz Composition and Improvisation as well as Head of the New Musical Technologies and Languages at the same institution, thus helping to make the Conservatory a pole of attraction for contemporary music. Having always been fascinated by other artistic expressions, he has written music for cinema and dance. He has recorded on the following labels: ECM, Soul Note, Splasc(h) Records, MM Records, CAM, Imprint Records, Nueva, Giulia, ParmaFrontiere (a label founded by himself).