This year’s biennial Music Festival wasn’t just any ordinary music festival, as Assistant to the Headmaster Rita Fin reports.
In collaboration with our extremely enthusiastic Italian teachers Caterina Rupolo and Catherine Angeloni, and Events Manager Tina Demetriou, we worked together to make this a cross-departmental cultural experience and to involve as many boys as possible.
Where to start? In our preliminary brainstorming sessions we tackled the big questions: How can we transform the playground into an Italian piazza? How can we generate enthusiasm for all things Italian, not just the music of Italian composers? How can we integrate other aspects of daily life at Grammar into our Italian theme?
"How can we transform the playground into an Italian piazza? How can we generate enthusiasm for all things Italian, not just the music of Italian composers? How can we integrate other aspects of daily life at Grammar into our Italian theme?"
The Festival, which ran from 26 May to 15 June, began with a pre-concert listening comprehension lesson for parents and boys given by Signora Angeloni entitled ‘Italian: you understand more than you think!’ followed by the Opening Concert (Primo Concerto) in Big School entitled, ‘Let’s Sing!’ (Cantiamo insieme!). Sydney sciantosa, Nadia Piave, with Ross Maio (accordion) and Gino Pengue (guitars), joined Grammarphones, Croonivores and the Form V Italian class to present a veritable banquet of Italian music from the 16th through to the 21st centuries all represented in about sixty minutes.
Other musical highlights involving both College Street and Preparatory School boys were the Secondo Concerto: Fantasia Italiana! and Terzo Concerto: Carosello Italiano. An arresting backdrop to the stone walls of the JVH was provided by the vibrant colours of the tricolore accented by spotlights. Seventeen ensembles involving well over 500 boys performed works either by Italian composers or inspired by Italian sentiments. Italian violinist, Davide Monti, was one of our guest musicians for the Festival. David held a Baroque masterclass with the string players, as well as a lunchtime concert in Big School where he was joined by instrumental teachers Rosemary Quinn (‘cello), Tommie Andersson (theorbo) and Robert Wagner (harpsichord).
Lunchtime events included visitors presenting Commedia dell’Arte: Maschere e Burattini (Masks and Puppets); Fools in Progress, where boys were able to try on famous character masks such as Arlecchino, Pantalone and Colombina; and an Italian silent film demonstration with Mauro Colombo. Several of the School’s clubs got into the spirit of the event with the Dr Who Club screening an episode over two weeks of Le Fiamme di Pompeii (Fires of Pompeii), filmed in Cinecittà in Italy. The Lego Club built their own Torre di Pisa (Leaning Tower of Pisa). Even every assembly during the festival featured Italian music and the Term’s Mufti Day turned Italian as the boys were given the opportunity to dress as a famous Italian character or to be creative in their combinations of clothing in red, white and green.
There is little more sacred in Italy than its favourite sport calcio (football), so a friendly futsal competition between the Form V and VI Italian classes was a must. The gym came to life with shouts from the crowd of ‘Forza ragazzi!’ to the strains of Puccini’s ‘Nessun Dorma’. Another favourite Italian pastime is, of course, bocce (bowls). At first we thought that the rain would thwart our plans, but John Rimmer (PDHPE) came to the rescue with fake grass and the old benches from Big School placed in the rifle range so the games could go ahead.
The annual Tedeschi photographic exhibition, re-named the Mostra fotografica - Premio Tedeschi for the Festival, required boys to submit their entries with the following topics: Forms I -II: La dolce vita, Forms III-IV: Nello stile antico, and Forms V-VI: La vita è un sogno. And to liven up tutorial registration sessions? Each day there was a quiz with questions on Italian culture, history, science, mathematics, geography, music, art, fashion and food.
Each day there was a quiz with questions on Italian culture, history, science, mathematics, geography, music, art, fashion and food.
The most fun was undoubtedly had on the Festa della Repubblica (Italian National Day), which fell conveniently mid-Festival. By lunchtime, the middle playground was transformed into suburban Rome or Naples with the aroma of wood-fired pizza and centre-stage, a brand new Ferrari whose roar was soon drowned out by the stampede of boys running to join the very long pizza queue! The Prefects ran a gelato stall as part of their fundraising campaign and Arnaldo Giordano entertained with his roving gondola. And what piazza would be complete without the strains of ‘Funiculì Funiculà’ ringing out over the loudspeakers?
The Festival was a huge success and it can truly be said, ‘Ci siamo divertiti un mondo!’ (We had a great time!) Viva l’Italia e Arrivederci!