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XXII Guitar Convention

XXII Guitar Convention, Modena, Palazzo Coccapani, November 14 2009

On November 14, 2009, the splendid halls of the Palazzo Coccapani of Modena, now housing the Accademia Nazionale di Scienze Lettere e Arti that funded the project, hosted the XXII Guitar Convention. It was an event that coincided with the presentation of the book, Romolo Ferrari e la Chitarra in Italia nella Prima Metą del Novecento (Romolo Ferrari and the Guitar in Italy in the First Half of the 1900s), on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Modenese musician. On this anniversary and in this place, references echoed back to the central figure of this meeting: it was in this very Palazzo Coccapani, in distant 1933, where Romolo Ferrari organized the first Guitar Day. This convention is an attempt to be its natural continuation, carrying on a tradition that has been interrupted for far too long.

The Convention, organized by a scientific committee founded by Simona Boni, Giovanni Indulti, Vincenzo Pocci, and Enrico Tagliavini, pleasantly evolved between talks and musical performances of an extremely high artistic and cognitive level by well-known teachers, musicians and scholars. There was a large audience present that was always attentive and participating. With the presence of guitarists who came to Modena from various Italian cities, it's worth mentioning the participation of scholars from Germany and Belgium. Also, other descendents of protagonists from the past took part in the initiative, almost sanctioning the resumption and the continuation of a tradition that they knew well with vibrant stories of the musical passion of their forefathers.

The encounter and comparison between people of different ages, histories and lives was significant, but they were brought together by the love for the guitar: only few and precious occasions can offer such possibilities to have a dialogue, made possible here in the form of a serene and passionate artistic communication.

The day started off with the greetings given by professor Ferdinando Taddei, president of the Accademia di Scienze Lettere e Arti, and by the Instruction Councillor of the city of Modena, Adriana Querzč.

The first talk of the morning was that of Simona Boni, guitarist and musicologist as well as careful curator of the book and the Convention; she presented the book and its contents and emphasized the importance of the cooperation between scholars in favor of research and the circulation of sources. Simona Boni then sketched out a biographical profile of Romolo Ferrari, illustrating the principal traits of his human and artistic growth regarding the valorization of the guitar on multiple fronts.

What followed was an attentive analysis of the compositional activity of the Modenese musician, carried out by Giovanni Indulti, scholar and composer, who had shown how Ferrari was open in some of his works - if not cautiously - to the new styles of contemporary music. In other works he was however perfectly conservative and faithful to eighteenth-century models.

The participation of the concert performer Piero Bonaguri, professor at the Conservatorio di Bologna, aroused great interest for his execution, given on his splendid Gallinotti guitar that had once belonged to Raffaele Suzzi. He made an interesting choice of pages that testify the cultural openness in Italy around the middle of the 1900s: from Paganini (whose importance was rediscovered in those very years), to composers such as Mario Barbieri, Riccardo Malipiero, Ettore Desderi, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

A brief but well-received musical presentation was also given to us by Giuliano Balestra, concert musician, composer, and teacher at the Conservatorio di Roma, who began his part with a piece dedicated to his teacher Benedetto Di Ponio. He then illustrated Di Ponio's artistic profile regarding his concert activity, his radio broadcast recordings (the first for our instrument) made for Europe and South America, and his position as the first guitar teacher in an Italian conservatory.

The theme of non-guitarist composers in Italy was taken up by the young guitarist and musicologist Sergio Sorrentino, who paired the interesting analysis side-by-side with the performance of music by Enzo Masetti and Goffredo Petrassi, showing how often these composers were attracted by the particular timbral sonorities of the instrument and its evocative power.

Sergio Sorrentino then played (in duo with the violinist Francesco Bonacini) some pages for violin and guitar by the Modenese Primo Silvestri, who worked hard along with Ferrari, for the recognition of the guitar in the state education system. With this homage and the notes of the delightful chamber music made of delicate and gentle movements evoking an early 1900s atmosphere in the audience, the morning session concluded in a sort of prologue to the convivial moment and buffet lunch offered to the convention guests in the noble halls of the historic building. During the break, the guitarists came together for a group photo taken by photographer Marco Cavin, respecting the tradition of the conferences.

The study presentations began the afternoon with the talk given by physicist and researcher Marco Bazzotti, who presented a guided listening of rare album and radio recordings of Italian guitarists from the first half of the 1900s, among those were various concert performers such as Giulio Giulietti, Toto Amici, Federico Galimberti, Mario Maccaferri, Luigi Mozzani, highlighting  how much the difference in time period and performers can weigh upon the history of a piece of music, and how important it is for this heritage to be preserved and studied.

The concert performer Giulio Tampalini proposed an appreciated and unedited musical moment with pieces by guitarist-composers active in the first half of the 1900s, among which were Luigi Mozzani, Benvenuto Terzi, Roberto Beccuti (the Notturno dedicated to Romolo Ferrari), Carmelo Coletta, Romolo Ferrari (the evocative Pensiero Funebre, at the death of the unforgettable friend Riccardo Vaccari), offering a musical portrait of a period that today is maybe too neglected in concert programs, and actually presents precious pages that deserve to be known and performed.

The guitarist-composer theme, in reference to the continuity of an instrumental use that has antique origins, was elaborated by Luciano Chillemi, professor at the Conservatorio di Rovigo, who analyzed various figures, particularly the work of Giovanni Murtula, musician, cultured man of wide interests - most of all literature and painting - that are reflected in his compositions, wrongly left in the dark.

The talk given by Silvia Mastrogregori, young guitarist and researcher, pointed out the difficult path that led to the institution of the chair of the guitar in 1954 in the Italian conservatories, explaining how the constant and prolonged effort like that of Romolo Ferrari, Primo and Renzo Silvestri, together with the decisive action of Guido Guerrini, director of the Conservatorio di Roma, were fundamental in obtaining an official recognition of the instrument.

Lastly, Enrico Tagliavini affectionately remembered his personal relationship with Romolo Ferrari and the passion with which the Modenese musician had always worked with the intent to bring the real value of the guitar to light.

With a heartfelt musical tribute, on the notes of Danza Indiana by Ferrari in the intense performance by Enrico Tagliavini, the XXII Guitar Convention concluded with the auspices that this tradition will have a long continuation in the years to come, inheriting a historically rich past, full of artistic and human values still important today, and a future that will give the right space to events like this one, conceived in a spirit of musical collaboration enhanced by the emotions that touching the right strings - physical and metaphorical - have aroused in us.



S. Mastrogregori, Il XXII Convegno Chitarristico: rinascita di una tradizione

Program                                 Abstract relations (in italian)                                Photos