A Summer of Music in Rome’s Fabulous Venues

Every summer the Italian government sponsors outdoor music events as part of a broader cultural initiative. The Polo Museale del Lazio (Museum Center of Lazio) put together one hundred activities for this summer’s entertainment.  See http://art-city.it

To date we have attended three concerts, one at Castle St Angelo and two at Piazza Venezia.  The former is in Vatican territory and the latter overlooks the Roman forum and the ‘centro historico’ of Rome.  Two more fabulous venues would be hard to find.  

From the Castle you have a great view of St. Peter’s Cathedral as well as the River Tevere and it’s many summertime tents, where patrons sip cold beverages or have a plate of pasta while sitting on the banks of the river that divides Rome.  

St Peter's from Castle Sant'Angelo

St Peter’s from Castle Sant’Angelo

 

We were privileged to enjoy the Barcelona Gypsy balKan (sic) Orchestra seated on the upper levels of the monument, erected circa 139 as Hadrian’s tomb.  You too can watch the performance we did, without the venue unfortunately:

Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra, pen ink brish, mini done in audience

Barcelona Gypsy balKan (sic) Orchestra, pen ink brish, mini done in audience

Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra

Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra, pen ink brush, done in audience

Their lively performances fuse Roma and Klezmer.  Klezmer is a musical genre created by Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe.  The groups are called klezmorim and originally it was largely dance tunes and instrumentals that they played for weddings and other celebrations.  It is every bit as energetic as Roma music and likewise there are dances that go with some songs.  When we were in Budapest one summer we watched a band and dance group performance, men in traditional black hats and suits dancing on an outdoor stage along the Danube.  It was impressively athletic, including bottles balanced on heads.

The concerts at Piazza Venezia take place within the monument to Vittorio Emannuel II, made king of Italy at the time of unification in 1861.  (You may recall that in 2000 Peg worked with the nephew of Lampedusa, who wrote the Leopard, a novel about Sicily at the time of reunification-  Gigi was working on a novel).  The monument overlooks Piazza Venezia on one side with great views of the historic center, and portions of the Roman forums on the others.  You can easily see Trajan’s column.

While waiting for the concert to begin, I sketched Trajan’s column.  The column recounts the conquest of Dacia, in what we now call Romania.  Romanian is a romance language, adopted as a result of the conquest depicted here.  The sculptors who did these columns came to be called columnists, from which we get our use of the word.

Trajans Column from Vittorio Emanuelle

Trajans Column from Vittorio Emanuelle, sketch

Romans are not fond of the monument, pejoratively calling it The Wedding Cake for its many layers. That you have to climb 260 stairs to get to the terraces does not make it any easier to like.  They say it is two floors to the terrace, which is true I suppose, it’s just the ceiling height that kills you.  There is an elevator to the highest level but you pay for those amazing views, but there is no stop on the level where they hold the concerts.

One evening there was a jazz band that whose offerings were too far from melodic for us.  The second night was Bach.  There were a flutist and a violinist, each accompanied by a virtuoso pianist, and a cellist who joined the rest for a third piece.   Fortunately I am a Bach fan, but if I were not, there would have been far too many notes for comfort.

 

These concerts and other events continue until September.  What a pleasure! 

About Gary Kirkpatrick

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