Although many may not be familiar with Ludovico Einaudi by face or name, they likely have heard his alt-classical tunes in everything from television to film soundtracks — "Black Swan," "J.Edgar" and "This is England."
Einaudi, 61, who has performed with a roster of pop stars like Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry, will make his next stop at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Thursday.
As part of his "Essential Einaudi" North American tour, he will be joined onstage by a five-piece band to perform his chart-topping tunes, including songs "Divenire," "Ombre," "Nuvole Bianche" and "Una mattina."
"This is a feeler tour with the group I'm playing with now, and we will play all kinds of music," Einaudi said. "I relate to the other musicians on stage as if I'm the conductor; so I position my piano to face the artists rather than the audience, with the musicians on my right and my left … this, I think, is the best way for us to perform my music together."
He has been placed in multiple categories, including rock, pop, ambient, acoustic, alt-classical, world, folk and electronic – but he does not believe in defining his sound.
His latest album "Elements" (2015) topped the classical charts across the world — breaking records in the United Kingdom in which he became the first classical artist in several decades to surpass releases by mainstream pop artists, including Taylor Swift and James Bay.
"I am compared to other classical musicians, but most of them perform songs from other people and most of those composers belong to another era," Einaudi said. "I'm a living composer, so I think I just write and compose the music of my time.
"I'm not saying that I am better than anyone in the past, but I am saying that I may have evolved some emotions that have connected with the people that are living on the planet today with me."
Einaudi, who was born in Turin, began composing and experimenting with new genres in his teens, picking up the folk guitar and finding influences in blues and rock bands like the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.
After studying at the Conservatory in Milan, he began composing traditional forms of chamber and orchestral compositions, before incorporating other styles and genres and writing for theater, dance and multimedia works.
Einaudi said the key to staying distinct is to continuously find new inspirations.
"I think the inspiration comes from something that belongs to your deepest emotions," Einaudi said. "The difficulty is sometimes you want to find something that goes very deep under water. It's like deep fishes that you want to catch — those fishes are sometimes invisible, but you know they are there. So you need to sort of experience something, so that you can catch one of those fishes."
If You Go
What: Ludovico Einaudi
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Cost: Tickets start at $39
Information: 714-556-2787 or visit scfta.org