Antonio Costa Barbé is a lawyer, musician and
freelance journalist. On 4 February 1996, a few days before
Procol Harum played at London's Barbican, he telephoned Kellogs to find out how things were going
from a managerial point of view. Their conversation was broadcast
live, with the orchestral Repent Walpurgis playing in the
background, on Antonio's show Il Pezzo Mancante ('The
Missing Piece') on Radio
Azzurra Novara ...
Listen to the interview at YouTube
ACB: Hello John! John?
Hi! Hello. Thank you very much for your kindness. We are on the air now.
Oh my goodness!
Oh no! Radio Azzurra Novara reaches ...
Buona sera! Thank you! ... reaches many places in North Italy. Please, excuse me my poor English. I try to speak at my best.
We are ... Repent Walpurgis in this moment in the air ... on the air. So let's speak freely in English. I try to make the translation for my listeners at the end of our conversation, right?
Thank you. Mr John Kalinowski, you are a manager. Are you involved only in the musical management or in other fields of management too, theatrical, music hall, and so?
No, my only involvement in management is with the group Procol Harum at the moment, and with Gary Brooker as a solo artist as well.
Yes. What do you think about the figure of the manager in the pop music?
Oh, goodness, that's a big question. I sometimes think that managers have a ... oh, a bad reputation you know, as being the guy with the fat cigar and the diamond ring that runs off with everybody's money.
But um, that isn't always the case. It's really quite a difficult job. There are many different areas of responsibility, and ... it's quite a responsible job ... and to do it properly is a very time-consuming.
Yes. How did you reach the management of the Maestro Gary Brooker and of Procol Harum?
Well um, I've been involved with Gary for many years. I first met him more than thirty years ago when I was ... when we were both very young men ... I was involved with his previous group before Procol Harum, and then with Procol Harum for many years, then we, um, had a divorce for a number of years, and maybe five or six years ago we came back together again and I've been working with Gary and with Procol Harum since then.
Yes. In my weekly radio transmission, The Missing Piece, I have always spoken during the past years about this group. Procol Harum was my favourite group during my [theen?], my youth, and today too. How was developed the project with the London Symphony Orchestra and the [author's?] guests?
Well you know Procol Harum have a long history of combining their brand of rock music with orchestral, with symphonic music.
It goes way back to their 1972 album ...
Live in Edmonton, yes ...
Even before that I can remember working a concert with them in Canada with an orchestra as early as 1969, um, and they have on a number of occasions, in Tokyo Japan, in Germany, in London in a number of other places played concerts with orchestras. It's quite a difficult and expensive thing to organise, um, but can be very rewarding. I think a number of rock groups have tried to mix their music with orchestral music and it doesn't always work, but I think that Gary Brooker particularly understands how it should be and is, to use your word, a Maestro at this.
Yes. At the present time the group and the orchestra are rehearsing. Are they playing together in view of the concert in these days?
Actually they rehearse separately at the moment. The group is rehearsing ... the group has been rehearsing alone. Now there also is a large, a sixty-six voice choir involved, a chorus of sixty-six singers also. Tomorrow the group will rehearse with the choir, then on Wednesday of this week the choir and the orchestra rehearse together and then on Thursday, the day of the show, we all rehearse tout ensemble. Is that French or Italian? All together rehearse. So It's done in pieces really, and then everybody gets together for final rehearsals.
Yes. What is the present formation of Procol Harum, the members of Procol Harum?
Gary Brooker on voice and piano as always, Matthew Fisher who is the original Hammond organ player of Procol Harum, and um, we have Geoff Whitehorn on guitar, he's been playing with the band for five years now and is a most excellent guitar-player, um Matt Pegg on bass, and Henry Spinetti on drums. He must have some Italian ancestry somewhere!
Are the musical people of London waiting for this event?
Well I would gather so, because the event has sold out, I'm very happy to say, and we have sold all the seats in the Barbican Centre for Thursday's concert, and this is an achievement, and we're very proud of this. So, um, yes, a number of people in London are certainly waiting for it.
The concert, will be present in the audience some well-known rock musician?
I wouldn't be at all surprised.
All right, Okay. Please, just a last question. How do you feel about this mammoth task? Are you a little tired?
A little tired and beginning to get a little nervous I think, but um, I think, you know, I have a great faith in Gary's musical abilities and I think that ... you know ... at the end of the day I am very happy that the musical area is one that I don't have to worry about, because Maestro Brooker is taking care of that very ... in a very good way.
Ah, John, I want to over-thank you for this conversation, God bless you ...
Can I just mention that I've been contacted by an Italian agent who is keen to book Procol Harum.
Yes. I will come to London next Thursday, we are five persons ...
... and I hope ... come with us Maestro Mauro Trombeta, that is the director of Arena di Verona.
Well we have some interest in July to play a number of shows in Italy so I can tell you about those when I meet you.
I hope to see you next Thursday in London at the Barbican. Thank you!
Ciao! I am very glad for this conversation
Thank you. I'll see you on Thursday.
God bless you.
Bye bye, John, bye bye, thank you.
Read more Procol Harum interviews from Antonio at Radio Azzurra
More pages about the Barbican concert