Dario Cortese – Guitarist


Dario is a brilliant guitarist from Italy and a thoroughly excellent chap.

Based in London Dario plays in the West End in Andrew Lloyd Webbers ‘School of Rock’  which is a BRILLIANT show and definitely worth a visit (See our review in the Bronze ‘Mission’ B section).

As well as his busy gigging life of ROCK! he is passionate about teaching and helping others improve their guitar skills through occasional masterclasses, a great website www.dariocortese.com and YouTube channel HERE.  What a STAR!

So, onto the nitty gritty…

1. Where were you born?

I was born in Italy, in a town called Monza which is close to Milan.

2. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Monza till about 8 then my family moved to the south of Italy, in Sardinia, where I lived for about 18 years.

3. What jobs have you had? (Any jobs before you became an artist/musician etc)

I’ve had many jobs. When I was 14 I started teaching guitar and music, but I always had to do a second job to bring in more money. I ended up painting people’s houses, doing deliveries for house appliances (such as fridges, washing machines, etc), working in a factory, I sold books door-to-door, the list goes on.

4. What got you started?

I felt a connection with music that words can’t express.

5. How old were you when you started?

I started playing at the age of 8.

6. Did you do any training? Where did you study?

My dad and my brother played a little guitar so they showed me the first few things.  Soon, that wasn’t enough for me. But I didn’t have enough money to go for lessons. I didn’t think that was a good reason to give up so I decided to progress on my own.  A few of my friends were able to go for lesson and I would always asked what they were studying.

Later I was able to pay for 3 months private lessons with a classical guitar teacher.  When I was 16 my parents wanted me to get a ‘proper’ qualification so I went to the only private school in Italy at that time (CPM in Milan) and got a long distance qualification.

I didn’t actually learn a great deal there, because I was study so relentlessly on my own, but I did learn a bit and got the qualification my parents wanted.

7. What was the first piece of work you did?

I started playing in pubs at the age of 14.  When I was about 16/17 I did my first recording session.

8. What piece of work are you proudest of?

I have had the pleasure to work with many wonderful musicians, including guitarists Larry Carlton, Brent Mason and Martin Taylor.

9. What are you best known for?

I suspect I am known for various things in different areas.  I have taught in a very popular/prestigious school, I wrote for magazine (which was a way to be know by the wider public), I have a fairly popular YouTube following but what takes up most of my time and work is working in theatre (West End) as a guitarist and doing recording sessions for different artists.

10. What do you like most about your art form?

I get to play the guitar.  If I play well people will feel uplifted and their problems will feel somehow smaller.

11. What would you improve about the field you work in?

I am still studying as relentlessly as when I was 16.  I want to learn a number of styles that I am not very proficient in.

12. What are you working on now?

Professionally I play in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “School of Rock” in the West End of London.  As a personal study I am working on both Gypsy Jazz and Flamenco guitar playing.

13. Describe your favourite kind of working day.

I work a lot, maybe too much these days, so my ideal kind of working day is a day that would give me enough time to study!  Maybe have only one session or one show during the day, but paid well enough.

14. Who were your arts inspirations growing up?

I had a number of artists that inspired me when I was growing up. The first ones were local Italian singer songwriters. They were the reason for the initial spark. After that I fell in love with more widely known artists such as Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), Slash (Guns’n’Roses), Paul Gilbert (Mr Big), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), etc.. Later on I got into SRV, George Benson, Pat Metheny, Ray Parker Jr, Ry Cooder, Dann Huff and probably the most influential of all, Brent Mason.

15. Who are your arts inspirations now?

Now I listen to a variety of artists from Paco De Lucia to Django Reinhardt, but my biggest inspiration when it comes to arts and how to use it, is a person who I consider my mentor: Daisaku Ikeda. He teaches, through the teachings of Buddhism, how to use music as a way to connect people and build peace and happiness for all humanity.

16. What do you do in your spare time?

Aside from work, I love to practice guitar! But I also use a lot of my time to support my local Buddhist organization, and support other people to become happier. I also love to spend time with dogs, cats, hiking, watching the MotoGP and doing exercise.

17. What top tip would you give to someone starting out in your artform?

Play every time like you are performing at the Royal Albert Hall.  Never give up or limit yourself.  We have infinite potential, even if you can’t see it right now.  The only thing that can stop you is if you decide to give up.


Thanks Dario! You’re ACE!