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TARANTA POWER

"Taranta Power is the underscoring of a creative surge vibrantly taking place in the years before and after 2000. The Taranta legend liberates energy even today, and spurs new generations to dance, in the south and the north. The Tarantella steps lead musicians, artisans, painters and sculptors to paths never before trodden, where the traces and faces of a thousand year history are found, as well as the vibrations of a present that involves mutual recognition and contact between peoples. The Taranta then, is an instrument for communication, and it is a characteristically Italian artistic indicator that represents our origins and culture, all over the world. I named this movement Taranta Power, using a bold juxtaposition of terms, because it provides a vivid contrast with the unfortunately inferior image that the “Tarantella” has assumed in the collective imagination worldwide, perpetuated by bland folk groups and shallow musical expression, a very long way away from the heady reality of the Taranta ritual. The Taranta Power project is propagating a new a vital image of Italian musical culture all over the world, and now in Italy it is a reality capable of drawing the public and fans together in concerts, workshops, schools, and festivals, in numbers and on a scale that until a short time ago was the preserve only of the world of rock and popular music. This course has developed spontaneously because of a real need to reclaim a musical standard in which we recognise our roots, outside any xenophile or massifying fashion. I think it is time the institutions appointed to culture intervened to give an appropriate and decisive impetus to the development of this artistic phenomenon. The first phase of Taranta Power consisted in spreading the music and dance linked to the rhythm of the Taranta, which, like the Flamenco for Spain, is for Italy a spectacular synthesis of elements, representative of our history and our myths. And this progression is now ready to be broadened to include parallels with other neighbouring cultures, and to position Italian popular music at the centre of the Mediterranean region, giving it a driving role and opening it to creative exchange with the rhythms and instruments of all Mediterranean countries, from Morocco to Algeria to Spain to Lebanon to Greece to Turkey."
Eugenio Bennato


Founded by Eugenio Bennato in 1999, Taranta Power has from the outset put forward a new way of perceiving the promotion and organisation of musical events. From the inside, it has revolutionised a sector, which at the time lacked the stature to respond to the renewed interest in popular music on the part of an increasingly young and international public. Taranta Power’s objective is the nationwide and international diffusion of the Taranta, intended as a dance and musical style belonging to the Mediterranean world, but with a distinct Italian character.

It is an ambitious political movement that attempts to reach its objectives with new formulae, and with an organisational policy that can be broken down into the following points:

1) CD PUBBLICATION
Releasing CDs is intended to be a response to demand from audiences who have in recent years made alternative choices to the dictates of the entertainment industry; a very distinct public who choose their music from information passed directly by word of mouth, from events and parties, concerts and improvised performances in city squares, or in village courtyards and farmlands. These are the so-called “Taranta people”, a great array of World Music listeners, in search of and waiting for a music that respects the character of all peoples and dialects. In these years there have been several releases: “Taranta Power” (1999) by Eugenio Bennato was the record that somehow started off an artistic and cultural that now involves tens of thousands of young people; “Tarantella del Gargano” (2000) is an extraordinary document of great musical and poetic value that gathers the most important pieces from the rich repertoire of the provincial Foggia town of Carpino, through live performances by the old masters, the keepers of the tradition; “Lezioni di Tarantella”(2000) is an anthology of tracks from the major popular traditions of Southern Italy, performed by the masters; “Che il Mediterraneo sia”(2001) by Eugenio Bennato, the latest step on a musical journey evolving towards Mediterranean sound and melody; “Chitarra battente” (2003) is the first release from Marcello Vitale, the foremost chitarra battente player of today. He has assembled an anthology of solo pieces for chitarra battente, unreleased tracks and reworkings of popular melodies linked to the original hypnotic function of Taranta music; “Tribù Puglia”(2002) and “Tribù Sud” (2003) are works that aim to publicise the dense network of young groups producing popular music in a rigorously contemporary key. With the re-release of Lezioni di Tarantella, there are plans for a November 2004 release of a compilation of tracks by talented young musicians from Calabria and Puglia, under the musical direction of Eugenio Bennato. What’s more, Eugenio’s entire discography has been remastered and re-released by Lucky Planet distribution…and with musical work for cinema and theatre continuing unabated, we can look forward to a collection of all the compositions by Eugenio Bennato for these media. Spring 2005 will see the release of the brand new CD from Eugenio, entitled Sponda Sud, (Southern Shore), containing all new, unreleased tracks.

2) PROMOTION OF ITALIAN GROUPS
PPromoting the popular music of Southern Italy means having to act on different levels: on the one hand it means bringing to the fore the Tarantella masters and putting them on the big stages, thus giving people the opportunity of getting to know the popular traditions through direct contact with the great bearers of the traditions. On the other hand, it means promoting the new works of young musicians, who, by respecting the rules of Southern Italian ethnic music, offer songs shot through with new sounds.

3) ORGANISATION OF CONCERTS and EVENTS
Big gatherings with a Tarantella theme, following in the wake of those organised by TARANTA POWER in Naples (December 1997), Milan (April 1998) Lecce (October 1998), the tour of Florence, Milan, Padua, Bologna and Rome (February 2000), the Dubrovnik Festival (August 2000) Naples and Bologna (February 2001), London Barbican Hall, Mediterranean Tour 2002 (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Albania, Spain), Taranta Power in Piazza Mercato (Naples 2003) Sfinks Festival Belgium (2003), Stimmen Festival (2003), Afragola Mondo (2003), Lebanon (2003) The Mediterranean Tour Summer/Autumn 2002 continuing in 2003 on easternmost shores, has enabled us to embark on the construction of a Mediterranean network that realistically allows collaboration between musicians and staff of the entertainment industries of the various neighbouring Mediterranean countries. Festivals of Nuremberg (2004), Brugges (2004), Lesina, TarantaPowerFestival (10,000 people) (FG) and the 7th Kaulonia TarantaPowerFestival (20,000 peolpe) (RC), and an intensive tour of Spain (Lerida, Bilbao, Valencia…). The tour of the Mediterranean begun in summer 2002, and continuing in 2003 on the eastern seaboard, allowed us in 2004 to create a Mediterranean network that can give genuine support to collaboration between musicians and arts promoters around the shores of the Mediterranean. New events currently being planned are “Che il Mediterraneo sia” at the end of the year in Cairo: Eugenio Bennato shall collaborate with the Cairo Opera Orchestra, with guests Jamal Ouassini, celebrated violinist and Arabo-Andalusian music researcher from Tangiers, and Hasna El Becharia from Algeria. A project in Turkey will allow Eugenio to meet some of the country’s key musicians.

4) EDUCATION: SCHOOLS AND WORKSHOPS
The proliferation of the Taranta also comprises an educational dimension. Educational courses with the twofold aspect of instrumental technique and dance, through the Schools and Workshops programmes, offers people the chance to develop significant awareness of the constituent elements and content of the ethnic music and popular of the south if Italy. The creation of new schools in Bologna (Italy), Melbourne (Australia), El Jem (Tunisia) and over a hundred workshops held this year in the schools are fundamental milestones for a movement actively involved in recuperating, studying and promoting the popular culture of the south of Italy.
 
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