"Mozzafiato" by Michael Weber

"Among the pleasures of living in Trani are the chance encounters that later seem as if they were matters of fate. Such encounters are common, whether we are running errands or wandering the Old Town on our evening passeggiata. One encounter led to a delicious recipe for spaghetti con alici e burro while another led to observing the painstaking restoration of a chapel by a retired policeman who has rediscovered the pleasures of stonemasonry. One evening several months ago, on our return home from the Cathedral, we noticed two young people mounting a poster on the face of the former Chiesa di San Luigi where Via Beltrani ends in Via Maria Pagano. Curious, we approached and asked about the poster, which was advertising a series of classical concerts that a new music conservatory had organized. We are devoted consumers of music of many types, including classical music. During the twenty years that we lived in Los Angeles, we regularly enjoyed productions of Los Angeles Opera and concerts of LA Philharmonic. Here in Trani, we have taken every chance to hear the marching bands. Where we can, we take in jazz. But, we have assumed that hearing classical concert music requires taking the train to Bari, as we have for opera productions at the Petruzzelli Theater. Mauro and Sujari—the hangers of the poster and two of the founders of the new conservatory—saw our enthusiasm. Soon, we were sharing histories, mixing Italian and English as needed. Frankly, it was difficult to tell who was more excited about meeting. We were joined by Giuseppe, Mauro’s father and another founder, together with Antonella, the orchestra’s concertmaster and conservatory founder as well. We were unable to attend the first couple of concerts. But on May 8, the conservatory marked the culmination of its first round of master classes with a concert featuring student soloists. A friend visiting from the United States, who has been studying classical and jazz piano for many years, joined my wife and me at the concert. Although it was a long evening, the orchestra under Giuseppe’s direction maintained steady support to young soloists from Poland, China, France, Italy, and Albania. The youthfulness of the orchestra and of the soloists was a reminder how vibrant classical music remains. It was thrilling to hear the soloists’ interpretations of pieces of music that we had heard dozens of times in our lives but never before in just that way. At times, the performances of these young musicians took our breath away. The concert the next evening raised the bar, featuring quintets by Brahms and Schumann performed by both resident and visiting musicians. The intensity and drama of the music transported us to a contemplative state of mind far from the small challenges and pleasures of daily life. The current concert season closes on June 29 with music for guitar and for cello performed by Francisco Berény Domingues and Tiago Azevedo e Silvia. Drawing on compositions from the 17th to the 20th century, the visiting musicians will explore the sounds of Spanish and Portuguese music. One composer whose name caught my eye on the program was Manuel de Falla, who fled Franco’s Spain in 1939 and spent the last years of his life in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The year before, another composer had moved to Buenos Aires from Mar de Plata: Astor Piazzolla. I can imagine that in the lively music scene of Buenos Aires in those years, the two composers met. Perhaps by chance."
Michael Weber
Friend of the Accademia Filarmonica del Mediterraneo