Violaine Corradi on the Music of Zaia


This is an interview by Keith Johnson (Seattle, Wa – USA) of “Cirque Fascination” with the music composer of Cirque Du Soleil’s ZAIA show, Violaine Corradi. I hope Keith will not mind me posting the full article here on my blog for three reasons:

  1. I will include a link to his original ezine article here: Corradi Zaia Interview
  2. I am quoted in the article with comments mined from my blog. (Which I think is very cool).
  3. Many people come to my blog here for info on Zaia, and they may also be interested in following Keith’s ezine “Cirque Fascination”. (Follow the article link).

As assistant bandleader for Zaia and in writing the string arrangements for the Hong Kong Symphony on the Zaia album – I’ve had the pleasure of working very closely with composer Corradi. Because of Violaine and Cirque’s influence, terms that are now part of my regular music vocabulary include “organic”, “cosmic”, “evoke”, “provoke”.

Thank you Keith for the wonderfully detailed article. Even being in the middle of all of it, I learned quite a bit from the article! And now for the Cirque music buffs – read and enjoy….

“Violaine Corradi: Working for Joy”
By: Keith Johnson – Seattle, Washington (USA)
{Issue Exclusive}

With the release of the ZAIA CD (Cirque du Soleil Musique CDSMC-20029, 2009) in the US (and coming up in Canada on October 20), it is our honor and privilege to continue our series on the music of Cirque du Soleil with an exclusive interview with the Musical Composer of ZAIA, Ms. Violaine Corradi.

Violaine Corradi (VEE-oh-len co-RAH-dee, “In Italian they say co-
RAAAH-dee.”) was born in 1959 in Trieste, Italy and moved to Montréal
at the age of four, the child of a composer/conductor father (who
passed away when she was six) and an opera singer mother. She trained in voice, piano, clarinet and flute and was a musical prodigy at an early age.

From 1993 to 1998 she composed music for the radio series
“Poesié/musique”, which featured leading Quebec poets reading their
works. In 1996 she released her first solo album, “Passages” (Imagine
Recors IND-2226). She also composed the musical scores for the IMAX
films, “Bears” (Silver Wave SD-930, 2001) and “Great North.”

Her first Cirque assignment, as we all know, resulted in “Dralion”
(Cirque du Soleil Musique CDSMC-20016, 1999). This was followed by
“Varekai” (Cirque du Soleil Musique CDSMC-20017, 2002). ZAIA (the
resident show on the Cotai Strip at the Venetian in Macao) marks her
third collaboration with Cirque.

While it was 7am Seattle time and 10am Montréal time (where Corporate PR Manager Chantal Côte facilitated our conversation) when we spoke by phone, it was 10pm the following day in Macao. In a French-tinged accent she first commented on why she was in Macao, “I arrived in the beginning of May [2008]. I was supposed to be here 3 or 4 months [but] I fell in love with the place and I fell in love, period, so
that’s why I stayed.”

We started off by talking about working on ZAIA. “This is my third
adventure with Cirque; I’ve been with Cirque the past 11 years. I was
invited by Gilles Ste-Croix to write the music for the show because
they knew what the director, Gilles Maheu, was looking for and it
sounded like it would go with my esthetic. And it did! It was a
great meeting, a great encounter.”

ZAIA Director/Writer Gilles Maheu has called the stage, “the center of
fire, a hurricane, a storm where forces align and dangerously confront
each other.” “[Working with him] was like a dream for me,” she
continued, “because [he] is very profound, coherent and sensitive.
When I hopped on the project in June of 2006 (two years before the
premiere) he had the entire outline of the show [ready], with of
course some gray areas but the narrative was there. So it was
fantastic for me to work with; I work very well when the director
outlines exactly what he has in mind for each acrobatic number. The
colors and the set design were pretty well advanced when I came in and
we pretty much stuck to the narrative. Of course some elements had to
change, because the reality is when [you’re] constructing and putting
everything together [sometimes you have] to make different choices.”

“But the foundation of what Gilles proposed to me pretty much
remained. That was inspiring to me. And the narrative – the story of
a young girl who decides to leave Earth, to travel the cosmos and
bring back notions of beauty to Earth – is so appropriate to what’s
happening right now. So I was very inspired to write the music for
this show.”

How does a composer work with a director on a Cirque project? “It’s a
relationship. It’s very personal with each director because they each
have their own personal way of bringing a project forward. It’s sort
of like asking if it’s the chicken or the egg. Because the director
first gives us the outline, then we bring our elements [to the table]
and the director or whoever is around them will be inspired by what
all of us in the creative team bring. And we nourish each other.”

“A lot of [the music] was inspired by the theme, the narrative itself.
Of course as I see the development of the show – the costumes, the
lights, the acrobatic sequences – this nourishes a lot of my process.
And getting to know the artists – having a beer with them, all of that
– you’re creating a personal relationship with all of them. For me
this is very crucial and fundamental to my work.”

What’s the process of musical creation, we wondered? “That’s a great
question. The first stage I work on is the nucleus, a version of
about a minute and a half to two minutes of the essence, the
foundation of the piece. And since I’m a singer and musician I can
perform and produce it so I do the entire thing.”

Some examples of these “nucleus” recordings can be found in the
“Creator’s Notebook” for Varekai, (the first edition of the Varekai
program) which included a computer disk with two of Varekai’s songs,
“Gitans” and “Icarians.” “On those tracks I’m the one playing
everything. The band was [together and] we were rehearsing but they
took my pre-production [demo] tracks.”

After she creates the nucleus, “we try it out with the acrobatics,
because they are also at the embryo of what they’re doing. And if we
along with the Director and the Director of Creation and the Acrobatic
Creators, if all of us feel it is right – the tempo, the colors, the
feeling of the music is right – then I develop the structure from
there. And then it’s back and forth until the last second before the

While the acrobats are working with these early recordings, “I’m
auditioning musicians, and as soon as the musicians come in we have
charts written out for them. For this project I had a wonderful
Assistant (to the Musical Composer) Thierry Angers. And this was a
great encounter for me, now that I know him I can’t live without him!
I could concentrate fully on the creation, the creative part of
writing the music and arranging the parts, and he and I would take
care of passing it on to the musicians. He would take care of writing
the charts and preparing all of what was needed for what would be – I
don’t like to call them sequences, [but there are] a few sequences.
Most of it is played live but with some of the pieces I wanted it to
sound a little bit more electro or trip-hop or house. And to do that
we needed some samples I created that are triggered by computer. So I
did all of that and my assistant would do all the charts. And I would
go to the rehearsals and we would integrate the music live. Normally
[the musicians] arrive several months before the premiere so we have
the opportunity to really work on the music.”

Her composing process started long before premiere night in a
situation that proved to be lower-stress than normal. “For [ZAIA I
had] two years [to compose]. For Dralion everyone was [brought in
about] one year before. On Varekai I had one year also. This time I
was lucky, not only did the director have his narrative but two years
to create the score was absolutely wonderful. So when we got to the
tightest part of the funnel all the music was written, arranged and
integrated with the musicians. When we arrived here [in Macao in May
to start staging] they were playing it already (performances started
in July).”

“This show gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Sound
Designer Steve Dubuc and his Assistant (as well as Sound Project
Manager and Recorder of the CD) Jason Rouhoff. Every night we would
rehearse and put the sound in the house. We have a mega sound system in the theater with surround [sound] and all kinds of goodies that we had such a good time with.” Including 18 subwoofers and 55 surround speakers.

“We had the opportunity to [work] every day, and that was amazing.
This [was helped by the fact that I] hopped on this adventure two
years prior to premiere. Once I got here I could work day and night
in conjunction with Steve and Jason on exactly how I wanted the music
to sound. And it took many many hours. This was a big big plus for
me on this project.”

“It was a luxury that the team here was kind enough to accept that we
would do sound [mixing] at 6 o’clock [in the evening]. With other
shows and often other venues that I work in we do sound at night
during what we call the graveyard. Everybody goes to bed but you have
to stay up and [work] when you’ve already been playing and doing stuff
for 12-15 hours. Here it was fantastic; we did it while they were
eating. So while the whole [creative] team was eating the musicians,
sound engineers and I stayed and didn’t eat. And we preferred that to
creating the soundstage in the middle of the night. It was great.”

How the music sounds in the theater is naturally an important
consideration to Ms. Corradi. “It’s my philosophy that the sound
engineer is a member of the band. Because you might have geniuses
playing – let’s say you’re lucky enough as a composer to get fantastic
musicians, all at a very high level like what [we have] here – but if
at the other end it’s not [properly] translated by the system and
whomever is mixing the house – then it can kill it. I always think
it’s important to have a clear relationship and bond between the sound
engineer [and the band]. Here we have four sound engineers; [on
Dralion and Varekai] we had three.” They are Hayden Clark, Roy
Cressey, Sebastian Hammond and Chris Pardy. Other parts of the team
include Head of Audio Eric Poitevein, Assistant Head of Audio David
Finch and Lead Audio Technician Frieda Lee.

“When I go to do some follow-up work on tour I find it important to
have these discussions and exchanges. I transmit the concept to the
engineer because if it doesn’t get to him or her it can be another
universe, it can completely flip around. So to me it’s very

Having the luxury of time also allowed her to take on production of
the ZAIA soundtrack CD, a responsibility she hadn’t originally
considered. “It was a nice opportunity. [Cirque du Soleil Musical
Director] Alain Vinet proposed [that I produce the CD] in spring of
2008. I wasn’t sure because I know that to create a Cirque show
[requires] a thousand percent of yourself, and often right
[afterwards] there is a little curve downwards where you need to
relax. At first I said no, I’d think of somebody [else] to produce,
and so we went along that line for a little while. Then once I got
here I realized I was nicely enough ahead and I would have the energy
plus the inspiration to produce the album.”

“It was very important to Guy [Laliberté] that the original musicians
[appear on the album]. The last time that happened was with La Nouba
10 years ago. [With] “O” and La Nouba back-to-back (Composer and CD Co-Producer) Benoit [Jutras] and (CD Co-Producer) Rob Heaney produced albums with the original musicians and they did a fantastic job. For other albums it was mostly session musicians, original musicians of the show were cameoed and sometimes it wasn’t always the original singers.”

“But for ZAIA we reached amazing levels of rendering the music. Alain
Vinet was here for the gala in August last year and heard it and was
also convinced [this was] the way it should be done.”

The nine ZAIA musicians play a multitude of instruments on the CD
(with a little help from members of the string section of the Hong
Kong Symphony Orchestra as well as Ms. Corradi herself).
Surprisingly, the band has none of the Canadian or French Canadian
players that usually comprise a large part of Cirque creation bands.

The musicians are:
Maria Karin Andersson – Singer – Sweden
“Chicago” Rose Marie Winnebrenner – Singer – United States
Steven Victor Bach – Keyboards, Bandleader – United States
Conrad Lewis Askland – Keyboards, Asst. Bandleader – United States
Oliver Alexandre Vincent Milchberg – Guitars – France
Rachael Cogan – Wind Instruments – Australia
Jay Aaron Elfenbein – Cello – United States
Darrin Eugene Johnson – Drums – United States
Eduard Harutyunyan – Percussion – Armenia

Recording the CD was, “another adventure in itself. At first we were
contemplating having the musicians record in a studio here in Macao or
in Hong Kong. And we played with that idea and realized it wouldn’t
necessarily be the best for the project or for the show. And so we
hopped on the adventure of creating a studio [inside the ZAIA Theater
at the Venetian Macao]. With the fantastic technology we have now it
was possible [to create a control room] within a week. We [already]
had sound booths and microphone wiring for the musicians, and it was
just a question of [creating] a control booth to do the recording.”

“[It was] recorded during the day and after shows while doing 8 to 10
shows a week. [It took] a month to record and a month to mix.”

“[In the production] I went for a real interpretation. I worked one-
on-one with all the musicians to put them in a mood to get a rendering
[with] a lot of heart and emotion. Many many days and many many
hours of work were put into that album.”

In our interview with Cirque du Soleil Musical Director Alain Vinet
(see Fascination! Newsletter #67 – August, 2009) he mentioned that he
works closely with soundtrack producers, often supplying comments.
What comments did he give about recording ZAIA? “[He was] very
encouraging. He is wonderful in the sense that he has a way to
inspire. I can’t tell you exactly what his comments were because
there were many things that were discussed. What I can tell you is
that he has a wonderful way of [giving feedback] and a way of creating
that makes us want to surpass ourselves.”

In a post-interview email, Ms. Corradi sent along the track list of
the ZAIA CD with the translation of the titles and act they are
related to:

01) Noi – (Theme of the show and Finale) – Us
02) Aestus Calor – (Ouverture) – A Flow of Fire
03) Ignis – (ZAIA’s Departure) – Fire
04) Hatahkinn – (Aerial Bamboo) – (This is an invented word)
05) Aquilex – (Globes and Poles, Part1) – The One Who Finds Sources
06) Comissatio – (Globes and Poles, Part 2) – Feast
07) Blue Ales – (Lanterns) – Blue Bird-It’s Flight is an Omen
08) Adrideo – (Old Clown Act with Onofrio + Tom) – Laughters
09) Ardor Oris – (Back-up number + walk arounds) – Ardour
10) Aequor Oris – (Fire Dance) – Ocean of Fire
11) Caelestis – (Aerial Frame) – Celestial
12) Undae – (Time Transition) – A Flow of Water
13) Temperatio – (Jugglers) – Balance
14) Ellâm Onru – (Hand to Hand) – All is One
15) Gaudiumni – (X-Board) – Joy
16) Utinam – (Straps duo) – May the Heaven’s Wish So

“I came up with the titles many months ago. In the reality of
everyday I still call them their working titles so I have to get used
to calling them the name we call them on the album. If I give the
[album] song title to the musicians or the Artistic Director they
don’t know what I’m talking about, so I have to use the work titles.
Every piece has at least 3 titles, and the [song is] baptized [with
last one] when we lay it on the album.”

“You made me realize though that, now that the album has just been
released it’s time for me to memorize which musical piece the new
titles I found are associated with…Thank you!”

“We actually recorded everything, the music of the entire show, 95
minutes. I knew that I was not going to be able to put everything on,
but the songs that we weren’t able to put on the album – and I’ll need
to discuss this with Alain – we may be able to put them on iTunes or
something like that. But we have them. On the album we put what
Alain and I felt would tell the story of ZAIA. The rest exists and
we’ll see what we do with it.”

Those unreleased songs include:
“Travelling Cowboy” – (New Clown Introduction)
“Automat Dance” – (Automaton Dance)
“Alobaloro” – (Rola Bola)

And there was one song that, due to the continuing evolution of the
show is on the soundtrack but isn’t in the show anymore. “”Adrideo”
is the clown act, or should I say, it was our clown act until
approximately a month ago. Work in progress… new clown act = new

Ms. Corradi dedicates the album to “Mariposa.” “”Mariposa” means
“butterfly” in Spanish. This butterfly I know is an inspiration for
me. And the symbol of the butterfly is related to the show. The fact
that a butterfly goes through four stages in its cycle before it
becomes a butterfly is really related to transformation, to a journey
where you have to throw yourself into the void. [The concept of
letting] yourself be reborn again is really appropriate for this show.
So Mariposa is a person and also a symbol.”

Unlike the soundtrack to Varekai, which was more electronica-
influenced and took some liberties with the music, ZAIA seems to be a
return to the sound of the music as heard in the show. Much of this
is due to recording the album with the shows original creation
musicians in the ZAIA Theater. But it was also a philosophical
decision. “To tell you the truth I think [soundtrack CDs] should
always reflect the show. If there’s going to be other projects
inspired by the show music you should [label them] as being inspired
from the show. When it’s the show’s soundtrack I feel that it should
reflect the music of the show but not necessarily in every detail, you
can enrich it. For example for this CD I had to restructure [the
music] to put it in a format that was independent from the image, from
the visual.”

“For Varekai it was an executive decision to work with [CD Producer
Nitin Sawhney]. We had an intimate dinner at Guy’s house in Montréal
with Nitin and Bruno Gaez (who was the Musical Director at the time).
And Guy felt [there] was a new tone for Cirque du Soleil starting with
Varekai, because (Cirque Co-Founder and first Company President)
Daniel Gauthier had left and it was the first show that had been
created without him. It was Guy’s desire to explore other avenues and
he asked me if I would feel comfortable with that. And I said yeah, I
approved it. It was great, it was a fantastic encounter and I think
it spoke for itself. It [was in] the Top 5 in Billboards World Music
section for weeks.

Interesting sounds are one of the hallmarks of Ms. Corradi’s music.
Such as a rapid breathing singing sound used in ZAIA on “Undae.”
“It’s called “panting” or “throat singing.” It’s a specialty of one
of the musicians, Racheal Cogan, the wind instrumentalist. And I
integrated it into two of the pieces because I find this sound brings
us to the beginning; to me it’s really evocative of the origin of
humanity. Hopefully it creates that in the imagination of others.
And so far so good, people that have heard it here feel the same. So
we’ll see how it echoes back as the album lives its life.”

In a prior interview she mentioned how one of Guy Lalibertés’ favorite
instruments was the “bandaneon.” What’s that? “Bandaneon is the name for an accordion, but instead of having a keyboard it has buttons.
Guy loves accordion sounds – he used to play it – so I know that he
loves the sound. In the last 11 years he would really be turned on
when I would come up with an accordion or bandaneon sound.”

“Guy loves very simple melodies and melodies that bring people
together. And he loves everything that is rhythmic or percussive or
[music that is] very trendy. But he explained to me that he loves
music and melodies that bring people together. And to him an
accordion is a great instrument to do that.” (This might explain why
the bandaneon/accordion shows up in almost every Cirque recording.)

The ZAIA album continues Ms. Corradi’s considered use of strings and
woodwinds. “I think they are very warm. [In ZAIA] we don’t have
violins per se. [We have] a bow specialist who plays viola da gamba
and the ancestor of the cello, the rabab. Sometimes it might sound
like a violin but we’re not using a violin. To me these sounds are
very real and warm. They have a mode of expression that is strong and
close to the human voice.”

“With Dralion’s original instrumentation the first musician I hired
was a cellist/violinist, he would play both. And [for ZAIA] the wind
instrumentalist [was to] be mainly an oboist but they also play
didgeridoo and other wind instruments.”

“I love to put the two together. I think all Cirque shows have bowed
or blown into [instruments], I’m not the only one. If I look at
Cirque orchestral formations I think we find that you always have
keyboard and percussion but you need people who blow into something
and people who bow string.”

“First we do it with synthesizers. [But it’s] so expressive when a
specialist in an instrument gives a real rendering with a real soul
interpreting and with all the mechanics and ornaments you have with a
real instrument instead of having a keyboard play it.”

ZAIA Keyboardist Conrad Askland quotes Ms. Corradi as saying musicians are the “soul of the show.” He also called her a “musical shaman.”

“I auditioned [and selected] every musician in the show. I’m totally
part of the process. The Director of Creation for the Show Neilson
Vignola accompanied me through the process.”

“For the other shows normally I am involved, but they will know if I
am too busy to hire or audition other people. Normally I am always
the one choosing the musicians because it is part of my mandate –
Composer, Arranger and Musical Director, that comes along with it.”

“With singers, because they are characters in the show, once I make my
choices we [show them to] the director for him to see what they look
like, because he would have to work with them. We would have to reach a consensus. He was very happy with the people I found.”

ZAIA incorporates two women singers, was that her choice? “These
ideas always come from the director. [For the other shows] the
director saw a man and a woman but for this show Gilles wanted two
female singers. I was happy to get the request and work with it, and
I make the best of it I can.”

Listening to her Cirque albums one wonders if vocalists have
difficulty with some of the more tongue-twisting aspects of Cirque’s
made-up language. “On the contrary, I get more positive comments that it’s interesting and challenging. Because they perform 8 to 10 shows a week and – let me put it this way – I make sure they don’t fall
asleep! They have enough challenges [with] the difficulty of the
melodies and the way to interpret it, what I’m looking for in dynamics
and sensitivity, rendering, interpretation. I make sure the mountain
is high enough they have a nice climb. And to be able to have [their
souls] open at every show. Maybe they’ve thought it was hard but
nobody’s ever told me.”

Creation musicians are “crucial, absolutely crucial” to a shows final
musical sound, Ms. Corradi insists. “These musicians are choices that
I made very meticulously, of what kind of interpretation I’m looking
for. In this show I was looking for multi-disciplinary musicians,
especially [with] regards to plucked strings, bowed strings, and
winds, so we get all kinds of textures. It’s also like a journey in
time, in contemporary sounds as well as ancient, like the rabab and
the aoud.”

“So I made sure that I found the [right] musicians. Of course this is
crucial, because [they create] the foundation of [how future]
musicians will be asked to interpret the music unless I’m lucky enough
that the original members of the band stay forever. Which happened
[with] both Dralion and Varekai, most of the team is the same.”

“So it’s absolutely crucial, they lay down the foundation of the
score. Because I may lay down a line of aoud that I will play myself
with a very good sample, but it’s never [the same as] when it’s the
instrument interpreting it itself.”

For the “Solarium/Delirium” and “Delirium” arena show CDs Cirque
utilized several of Ms. Corradi’s compositions. In fact her songs
alone make up 40% of both projects! Songs utilized include:
From Dralion: Ombra, Aborigenes Jam and Spiritual Spiral.
From Varekai: Lubia Dobarstan, Emballa, Oscillum, Patzivota, Le Reveur
and El Pendulo.

How does it feel to hear her music in such a context? “It’s exciting,
it’s inspiring. I like [hearing where] inspired arrangers and
producers bring [the music]. [On Solarium/Delirium] there’s “Ombra”
where we have two completely different universes being expressed on
the same album; one is more Latin and the other really trip-hop. I
love it.”

“If I would write a piece [for a show] and it was really new and I
offered it to the musicians and they would start playing it like [the
remixes] I wouldn’t agree because I have an architecture, an esthetic
that I ask them to respect. Because the architecture and esthetic
have meaning in conjunction with all my other colleagues and creators.
We create an esthetic together and if they were to change the
[musical] style I wouldn’t agree. But when it comes to doing remixes
I find it very exciting and inspiring and I’m happy that people are
doing it.”

“I saw [Delirium] once when it premiered in Montréal. I was open and
just received it. (Music Producer and Arranger) Francis Collard did a
great job. Sometimes it sounded like a homeopathic [dose] of what we
created. He had a big mandate to take all those [songs] and make
something for this mega production but he did his job well, I think he
did a great job.”

How would she populate a Violaine Corradi “Best of”? “That’s a very
hard question. I have no idea. It’s the type of question I can’t
answer because I have to sit down and listen to everything and make it
work together. And I’d probably ask my friend Alain Vinet what he
thinks. I don’t know, I would have to do it then tell you.”

Whatever songs end up on that mixtape, they would all reflect the
Violaine Corradi style which she defines as, “a juxtaposition of
different styles and different cultures. I find a lot of inspiration
in what I call “root music.” I don’t like saying “folkloric” music,
but original music that has been played for hundreds or thousands of
years from every country. That’s what I listen to when I write music,
and I try to bring in a contemporary approach. I also like to
juxtapose diverse styles, like classical with trip-hop, or house with
Latin and whatever. I’ve always written like that, and I guess that’s
why Guy invited me to be part of the team 11 years ago.”

So what’s currently in her MP3 player? “These days I’m listening to
“Tuck & Patti” (vocalist Patti Cathcart and guitarist Tuck Andress).
It was released in the 80’s and I haven’t listened to it in ages, I
downloaded it maybe a week ago. It’s just voice and guitars and it’s
just great, it’s amazing. It felt so good to listen to that again.
They write their own songs and do some covers. Just beautiful to hear
a human voice with a very simple recording, very transparent. Tuck is
the guitar player and he plays amazingly, with so much feeling.
That’s what I’m listening to [along with] so many other things. But
that one is first on my list these days.”

Is there something about composing music that the public doesn’t
realize that she’d like them to know? “That’s such a good question!
I don’t think I want them to know because [it’s] a lot of work. I
think the general audience [doesn’t] have one hundredth of an idea of
all the work that [has been done] when they listen to an album or
listen to any kind of show. Of all the human effort and inspiration
and generosity and talent, everything that it takes to put it all

“Let’s just take ZAIA. We have nine musicians. All of them [have put
in] how many hours and years of work just to get there? And then to
put the soundtrack together?”

“How can I put it? I don’t think an audience that aren’t musicians
can envision everything it takes to put all this together, so I think
I’d rather they didn’t know. Just enjoy it! On our side we have so
much joy doing it.”

“It’s work and joy at the same time. I’d rather the audience just
keeps the joy of listening. The joy of listening is equivalent to the
joy we have of giving it to them. Because if we didn’t have joy all
this work would mean nothing.”

“In my life [I’ve known] people that couldn’t understand what I was
doing. They would wonder why I put so much energy on a note or a
measure or on 8 bars or 100 bars of music. These people are not in my life anymore.”

Her work ethic was imprinted on her early in life, “[by] my parents,
but especially my mother. My mother was my music master; she studied at the Pittsburgh School of Music in Philadelphia. She was an opera singer and music whiz and she passed it on to me. My father was also but he passed away when I was six so my main master was my mother. She taught me everything about music but especially how to materialize and actualize my ideas and bring [them out].”

“I remember in Quebec when I was nine years old I started to do
television. They would come to see the kid that could compose music
at nine years old, so they would put me on TV and stuff like that.
She would have me write out charts for the musicians or to be able to
[copyright] the piece at BMI. And she told me, “What you start you
have to finish.” And at nine years old to write a chart for musicians
was a big big endeavor. And I would cry, “No, why don’t you do it?”
“No! You started it, you finish it!” So I think that was the
[development] of my courage and endurance and stamina.”

“You need inspiration and talent but you [also] need courage to put
forward and actualize and materialize your ideas. And you have to
have the courage to keep going until it becomes complete. That is my

What can we expect to hear from her in the future? “For the moment
we’re still doing a lot of changes [to ZAIA] so I’m busy doing that.
I also have some album projects [in mind]. And of course (Vice-
President of Creation) Pierre Phaneuf at Cirque told me the last time
I spoke to him that they had projects for me. So we’ll see. I think
they’re letting me finish [ZAIA] and then we’ll see what my new
collaboration with Cirque will be. So coming up – music music music

As our time together was running out we had one final question, one of
our favorites. What words of wisdom does she have for young artists
to encourage or make them aware of the challenge of Art as a career?
“Hmm. That’s a very good question, and a hard one because there are
so many things I want to say. Maybe I’ll write it to you [later].”

Later she wrote, “To be an artist… to be a true artist means to be
totally engaged, totally dedicated to your craft; in fact, you can’t
even imagine living or breathing for a millisecond without Art in your
life! If this is the way you deeply feel then there are chances you
will have enough willpower and inner strength to carry you through.”

“As the famous French star Georges Brassens liked to say, “Talent
without technique is just a bad habit.” Knowing this first-hand and
also knowing what my peers and I have to put in to realize our dreams
and visions, I can confirm that the artistic adventure will challenge
and test you to the bone; to the marrow of your soul; it will carve
you like the sculptor carves marble in order to reveal your true
nature; your beauty and your full rainbow potential.”

“If you feel you have the talent and hear this “Call” to passionately
live the artistic odyssey (and what I just told you didn’t make you
want to run in the opposite direction…), then jump right in without
any second thought. Because it means that your dedication to your art
and to the world and what will be requested of you to succeed won’t be
“work” for you…. your long hours, days, months, and years will be
total “play”; full, total “joy”!”

And as she signed off Violaine Corradi had some kind words for us at
the Fascination! Newsletter. “I think it’s precious that you take
time to speak with me and to speak with us. You’ve done some great
work and every element counts. It’s very precious and I thank you.”

Likewise, Ms. Corradi.

My sincere thanks go to: Ms. Violaine Corradi, for so graciously
spending time with us, Lise Dubois, Corporate Alliances Coordinator,
Chantal Côte, Corporate PR Manager, and my wife LouAnna for putting
up with my sometimes obsessive hobby.

2 thoughts on “Violaine Corradi on the Music of Zaia

  1. So many great quotes here from Violaine. I especially love the letter to aspiring artists at the end.

    And yes, I agree with Conrad that she is a musical shaman. I would also like to add that she is a spiritual shaman for the artists of ZAiA.


  2. Yes, it is a long article, I didn’t read through, but i found something that is very very useful …
    the tracklist WITH translation and the acts related!!

    i love it!

    btw, what language is it?? I somehow read an article says it is an invented language from Northern India, but some I hear seems like French. pls tell me …..

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