Readers will excuse the play on words, while we take advantage of an old musical classic, but we really are surrounded by mountains here, since we are located at an altitude of 500m. And maybe the fresh alpine air helps develop good healthy lungs, because many of us either sing or blow into an instrument!! It is said that Italy is the nation of music, although you wouldn’t think it when you hear certain people using their healthy lungs to bellow like cows in the fog! Luckily though, for each bellowing fog-horn there are many sweet voices or talented players, since in fact, our little corner of the world counts three bands and several different choirs distributed around the area. All of them are amateur groups, and do what they do out of sheer passion, but if there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that there is nothing better than making music together to create strong bonds between people. Long-lasting friendships spring up amongst band members and chorists, especially considering that some of these groups have been going strong for 20 years or more.
At Borgotaro, 15km from Bedonia, the intent of the “Corale Lirica Valtaro” is to promote classical music through concerts, in the hope of drawing people towards and sparking an interest in what is often considered as “difficult” music. This choir, directed by the M° Giovanni Chiapponi, boasts a substantial repertoire of opera and classical pieces, and represents what we could call the most well- known Italian music in the world, the genre we are basically famous for. Their latest work was a representation of the opera “Cavalleria Rusticana” set in Sicily. The group gives concerts mainly around our area, but occasionally participates in events around Italy, proudly holding high the name of our lovely valley – Valtaro. The components of the choir come from every walk of life, and are of all ages – united by their mutual love for music.
The same goes for the “Coro Voci della Val Gotra” (voices of the Gotra valley), based at Albareto and in “business” since 1999; currently directed by Caroline Arpino, this formation does not stick to one particular style, but likes to experiment many different types of music, ranging from gospel to traditional mountain pieces, from sacred hymns (also in Latin) to contemporary, jazz and classical music. Thanks to the English origins of the choir mistress, the repertoire often includes songs in that language. Two main yearly events are organised by the CVVG – a summer concert and a Christmas version, in which external choirs are invited to take part, resulting in friendly, cultural exchanges when the invitations are later reciprocated, as they always are. This means that during the year, the choir often goes “visiting” other towns, near and far, but there have also been some very special occasions, such as the time they sang in the presence of Pope Giovanni Paolo in front of the Basilica di San Pietro, or in the Pantheon for a jubilee celebration; when they sang mass at Assisi in the Santa Maria degli Angeli Cathedral, or participated in international choir festivals in Prague, Salisburg and Wolfsberg in Austria. And getting back to the aggregating powers of music, the choir also enjoys a fun social life, since any excuse is good for a get together, a feast, and most of all – a singsong!
There are small parish choirs in Bedonia, Borgotaro and Tornolo which animate Sunday mass or any particular occasions such as weddings or celebrations of various kinds. And then of course there are four bands; two are directed by the M° Daniele Cacchioli (Corpo Bandistico di Albareto and the Glen Miller Band of Bedonia), and have many young (and not so young!) people involved, starting from as early as the age of 7/8 years old. It is a wonderful opportunity for the youngsters to be off the roads, as a community, learning something which will stick with them for their whole lives. The band of Borgotaro – Corpo Bandistico Borgotarese – directed by the M° Francesco Zarba, was originally founded in 1856, and runs along similar lines, as does yet another formation based at Tarsogno – Corpo Bandistico di Tarsogno, directed by the M° Roberto Fasano. All these groups have the same passion and enthusiasm, the same eagerness to transmit the love for what they do, and fill the air of our lovely valley with – the sound of music!!