To say virtuoso guitarist/composer Andre Feriante is a romantic is an understatement. Valentine’s Day brings out the lover in him through his music, and he gives a concert every year to prove it.
After 15 years on the west side, his annual Valentine’s Day concert is moving to Kirkland Performance Center on the Eastside. Love is in the air at any Feriante concert, but even more so this year, because, as Andre points out, the moon will be full.
A typical Feriante performance focuses on romance: fiery gypsy music, classical favorites, Italian vocals, jazz standards, tributes to Andres Segovia and even the Beatles. His repertoire also includes romantic song poems, many of which he composed himself.
This year, Feriante will be joined by Stella Rossi, a flamenco dancer from Paraguay; Anil Prasad, a world-fusion percussionist; pianist Overton Berry, recently inducted into NW Jazz Hall of Fame; and tenor Steve Thoreson, a former logger from North Bend, Wash., and 2011 runner-up in “Sweden’s Got Talent,” who channels Pavarotti in both size and sound.
A soothing presence
Feriante met Thoreson a few years ago by accident. Feriante was dining out when he heard a beautiful tenor voice and wanted to offer the singer a glass of wine. But where was this heavenly music coming from? All he could see was a hand conducting the aria from a window of a Cadillac.
They have been friends and colleagues ever since.
In the last few years, Feriante has taught himself to play ukulele and, most recently, the banjo. “The ukulele was not much of a stretch: It’s like a miniature classical guitar. It has nylon strings and a sweet, innocent sound,” he said. “Initially, I thought I could make the banjo sound like a sitar.”
Besides its romantic /sensual bent, Feriante’s music can also be soothing. He was performing at a local restaurant where a young couple had brought their 1-year-old daughter. Little Ember insisted that her booster chair face the music. She clapped her hands and blew kisses. Feriante couldn’t resist: He rewarded her with his CD, “Angelica.” Now, she falls asleep to Feriante serenading her.
Feriante’s fans even extend to the animal kingdom. When he played his ukulele at a garden party, hummingbirds hovered over his hands. When he played his guitar in Port Angeles, Wash., baby raccoons lined up outside the hotel’s sliding-glass doors. When he rehearsed for philanthropist Harriet Bullitt’s 89th birthday bash in Leavenworth, Wash., one of her prized Icelandic horses paused mid-gallop to listen.
As for the banjo, Feriante’s still waiting to see what animal he will attract.
A citizen of the world
Since he announced his intention at age 9 to become a flamenco guitarist, Feriante’s music has taken him all over the world. Along the way, he studied with world-renowned classical guitarists Andres Segovia in Madrid, Spain; Henry Rivas in Bogota, Columbia; and Leon Atkinson in New York. But for the last 20 years, Feriante’s home base of choice has been Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood.
So far, the 52-year-old Feriante has recorded 14 CDs; his “Novella, Ukulele Mosaique” just hit No. 6 on world-music radio charts. At this point in his career, he’s played for a veritable who’s who in Seattle, and he’s scheduled to perform for Spanish dignitaries at Seattle Art Museum’s Miro exhibit and for Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico.
Feriante may be a serious musician, but he has a great sense of humor. He credits his father, Carlo, a Merchant Marine-turned-Baptist minister/missionary, who just celebrated his 96th birthday in Yakima, Wash.
Born-again devotion runs in the family. Feriante’s two brothers have seminary degrees: one, a retired Army chaplain; and the other, a theologian whose ministry includes Christian missions. And Feriante’s sister is married to a pastor.
Like a good son, Feriante phone-banters with his father daily. When Feriante was picked for MSN’s celebrity feature, “12 Sexy Bald Men,” his father decided Feriante needed a hairpiece.
“You look older than me,” he said. “Let me send you $5,000 for a hair transplant. Then we take you to Hollywood. They’ll put you in the movies.”
A healing force
Although Feriante has branched out from the family calling, he expresses his spirituality through music. For him, it is a healing force in the world, bringing about peace and harmony.
“At the end of the day, even if I am playing where it’s loud and nobody is listening, it never fails: Someone comes up to tell me how much the music touched them,” he said.
Now that Feriante has become accomplished on a variety of stringed instruments, is there any chance he will take up the harp?
“Not yet,” he said, laughing. “I’ll leave that to the angels: They have my family on speed-dial.”
For more information about Andre Feriante and his upcoming concert, visit andreferiante.com.
STARLA SMITH is a longtime Queen Anne resident. To suggest a Queen Anne/Magnolia resident to be featured in “Starla Speaks,” email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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