Music Ho!


From 5th to 29th September, the Boccherini Higher Institute of Musical Studies is organizing its fourth ‘Open Gold’ and the first Boccherini Festival with concerts, master classes and lectures in a September full of music.

Wednesday, September 7 at 9 pm in the Auditorium del Suffragio there’s concert entitled “Music from Lucca.”
The programme includes Guami, Boccherini, Paganini, Liszt, Puccini, and Favali.
Simone Soldati, piano
Gabriele Ragghianti, double bass
Info: 0583/490950


Saturday, September 10th at 9 pm, Auditorium del Suffragio,
Piano and viola concert
Music by Boccherini, Schumann and Longo
Demetrio Comuzzi, viola
Anna Maria Curti Giardina, piano
Info: 0583/490950


Sunday, September 11 at 6 pm, Auditorium del Suffragio,
Concert by Students of the viola and chamber music masterclass held by Demetrio Comuzzi
Info: 0583/490950

Wednesday, September 14 at 9 pm, Palazzo Pfanner, concert by soloists of the Boccherini chamber orchestra. The concert is organized in collaboration with FLAM.
The programme includes Brahms.
Admission € 7
Info: 0583/490950


Sunday, September 18 at 9 pm, Auditorium del Suffragio, piano and cello concert.
The programme includes Bach, Boccherini and Debussy
Anton Niculescu cello, Sorin Dogaru piano
Info: 0583/490950


Wednesday, September 21 at 9 pm, Auditorium del Suffragio, there’s a ” Paganini Gala ”
Music by Paganini, Molinelli, Boccherini
Mihaela Costea, violin
Cristina Papini, violin
Simone Braconi, viola
Silvia Church, cello
Giampaolo Bandini, guitar
Info: 0583/490950

Friday, September 23 at 9 pm, Auditorium del Suffragio,
Concert by the students of the vocal masterclass held by Laura Niculescu
Info: 0583/490950


Saturday, September 24 at 9 pm, Auditorium del Suffragio, concert with Cristina Martufi, soprano, Paolo Taballione, flute
“L. Boccherini” Higher Institute of Musical Studies Orchestra
Conductor Mihail Agafiţa
Info: 0583/490950

Tuesday, September 27 at 9 pm, Auditorium del Suffragio
Piano and cello concert
Music by Bach, Boccherini and Beethoven
Simone Soldati, piano
Massimo Polidori, cello
Info: 0583/490950

Wednesday, September 28 at 10 am, Auditorium del Suffragio
Round table organized by the Centro Studi Luigi Boccherini
with Giulio Battelli, Gabriella Biagi Ravenni, Jerman Labrador, Guido Salvetti, Agostina Laterza Zecchi
Chaired by Yves Gérard
Info: 0583/490950


Thursday, September 29 at 9 pm, Auditorium del Suffragio,
Concert by the Trio Maffei: Claudio Maffei, violin
Massimo Maffei, cello
Stefano Maffei, piano
Music by Boccherini, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky
Info: 0583/490950















Over the Rainbow

Yesterday, another national day of mourning for Italy as twenty eight of the two hundred and thirty one killed by the earthquake in Amatrice received their last rites, as the local people had wanted, in their own town instead of the unwished-for arrangement at Rieti.

To-date there are two hundred and ninety two victims of the area’s earthquake and several people more remain still missing.

Of all the many moving images from yesterday there were two that stand out in my mind:

The cocker spaniel by the coffin of his master and friend, killed in the earthquake:


The letter written by the firefighter to the little girl he valiantly tried to save but arrived too late.


So many lives lost, so many young lives lost in the fullness of their awakening promises:

It finally rained yesterday after weeks of drought. The heavens were truly weeping and I was hoping a new sign might appear in the sky. I’m sure it will.


I could only think of one song yesterday and one singer whose life, too, was tragically cut short.




The Young Cello


Il 4 settembre alle 17.30 nella chiesa parrocchiale di Tereglio ci sarà un concerto degli allievi del corso dato dai maestri Raphael Wallfisch e Sebastian Comberti.

On 4th September at 5.30 pm in the parish church there’s a concert given by students of the summer course held by international stars Raphael Wallfisch and Sebastian Comberti.


Two Unmissable Cellists at Bagni di Lucca



Al Teatro Accademico di Bagni di Lucca, il primo settembre alle ore 21.30, si terrà un grande concerto di violoncelli con i maestri internazionali Raphael Wallfisch e Sebastian Comberti e con la loro partecipazione. Il programma includerà brani tra altri, di Boccherini e Rossini. Un avvenimento da assolutamente non perdere, specialmente perché sarà la prima volta che questi dotatissimi si esibiranno al teatro di Bagni di Lucca.


At the Teatro Accademico of Bagni di Lucca on the first of September at 9.30 pm there’s a cello concerto given by international virtuosi Raphael Wallfish and Sebastian Comberti. Pieces played include Boccherini and Rossini. It’s an absolutely unmissable event especially since it’s the first time that these gifted musicians will play in Bagni di Lucca.


Avant-Garde Events at Lo Scompiglio, Verno, Lucca

La Tenuta dello Scompiglio, just south of Lucca off the road to Pisa, is the nearest equivalent in our part of the world of London’s I. C. A. If you are looking for  way-out happenings, amazing food, state-of-the art bio-technology, mind-expanding exhibitions,  then check out its programme, also at


A multidisciplinary season focusing on the relationship between individuality and conflict entitled “Assemblaggi provvisori” resumes at the Tenuta Del Scompiglio near Vorno, Lucca.  There will be performances, concerts, installations, exhibitions, meetings, workshops and youth theatre.
On Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September, from 11 am to 7 pm, at the SPE – Performing Space and Exhibition centre, there’s a laboratory called Laboratorio tra autodeterminazione e violenza (between self-determination and violence) directed by the A j R i o t – A l V m e n u s company with Nina Negri director, performer, choreographer, actor and Isadora Pei director, performer, visual artist, and actor.
The theatrical performance (a collective of performers, dancers, directors and artists from different parts of Europe) will meet the group at 11 am. The audience is invited to ask questions about the dynamics of self-determination and violence inherent in the processes of subjection, not only through the issue of sexuality and prostitution, but also through the participants’ daily experience.

The dimension of physicality through various disciplines of theatre and movement will be integrated – from Butoh training to various physical movements – by working on theatre improvisation, dance to choreography.

The workshop is open to anyone interested in the topic: professional or amateur.
(Nina Negri and Isadora Pei)

SPE Booking office – Performing Space and Exhibition
Thursday to Sunday from 3 pm to 7 pm | tel. +39 0583 971125

Dello Scompiglio Cultural Association
Via di Vorno, 67 – Vorno, Capannori (LU) | tel. +39 0583 971475



Saturday 10th at 5.30 pm and Sunday 11th
There’s La Fabrique SoMArT the edge of the road: a travelling workshop, the brainchild of Serge Cartellier.
Conception, dramaturgy, direction and scripts by Faria Sophie and Serge Cartellier.
Translations by Luca Greco, performers Julie Fonroget and Serge Cartellier, costumes and accessories Sylvie Blondeau Hollier, sound by Sébastien Rouiller, scenery by Paolo Morelli and Cipriano Menchini.


Saturday 10 and Sunday 11, at 9 pm, at the SPE – Performing Space and Exhibition centre, there’s a show called G i r l i s a n G u n with the Aja Riot-Alma Venus Company.
Direction, lights, music by Nina Negri and Isadora Pei, with Chiara Capitani, Susanna Dimitri, Andrea Lanciotti, Nina Negri, Isadora Pei and Loic Samar.
Recommended for adults only.
SPE Booking office – Performing Space and Exhibition centre
from Thursday to Sunday from 3 pm to 7 pm | tel. +39 0583 971125

Dello Scompiglio Cultural Association
Via di Vorno, 67 – Vorno, Capannori (LU) | tel. +39 0583 971475


Saturday 17th, 10 -12.30 am and 3 pm- 5 pm, at the SPE – Performing Space and Exhibition centre and on Sunday 18th, 10 -12.30 am there’s a series of meetings entitled “Gender in the arts: performance, theatre, cinema, music” with Luca Greco.
This series of lectures will focus on the relationship between feminism, gender and art (cinema, theatre, performance, music). How do gender and feminist studies help artistic media and create originality? How is creativity influenced by gender and how does it present new subjects and relationships?

The meetings will begin on Saturday at 10 am with the following schedule:
10.00-12.30 am

Luca Greco
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris III
Presentation of the two days

Marco Pustianaz
University of Eastern Piedmont
Le sentinelle in piedi: una performance

Catherine Deutsch
Université Sorbonne Paris Cité
Oltre il linguaggio: fare e disfare il genere in musica

3 – 5 pm
Giovanna Zapperi
ENSAB – Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Art, Bourges
L’arte, il lavoro e la vita: una critica femminista

Manuel Billi
Independent researcher and filmmaker
Due o tre cose sul cinema post-identitario: performanza, poesia, frammento

Sunday 18th
10.00-12.30 Panel discussion
Moderator Daniele Del Pozzo, artistic director of the Gender Bender Festival, Bologna


A multidisciplinary season focusing on the relationship between individuality and conflict entitled “Assemblaggi provvisori” resumes at the Tenuta Del Scompiglio near Vorno, Lucca.  There will be performances, concerts, installations, exhibitions, meetings, workshops and youth theatre.
Saturday 17th, AT 7 pm at SPE – Performing Space and Exhibition centre, there’s an “Omaggio a Demetrio Stratos” with the following events:
7 pm, presentation of the book Stratos e Area by Lelli e Masotti, Arcana Editions, 2015

9 pm, concert
John Cage: Mesostico per Demetrio Stratos   (World Premier)
David Moss vocals
Patrizio Fariselli piano and keyboards
Luigi Ceccarelli electronics
Antonio Caggiano percussion



Sunday 18th at 4 and 6 pm performance called Ginkgo by Giulia Quadrelli.
Performers Lisa Borini, Giulia Quadrelli, Ulysses Romanò, Alice Roger, Mario Scandale, Luca Tanganelli and directed by Giulia Quadrelli and Mario Scandale
Theatrical collaborators Luisa Borini, Ulisse Romanò, Alice Ruggero, Mario Scandale.-
Illustrations by Giulia Quadrelli
Technical support by Paolo Morelli
Costumes by Francesca Marra

SPE Booking office – Performing Space and Exhibition
from Thursday to Sunday from 3 pm to 7 pm | tel. +39 0583 971125

Dello Scompiglio Cultural Association
Via di Vorno, 67 – Vorno, Capannori (LU) | tel. +39 0583 971475




A Cello Elegy


On Saturday, September 3rd, at 5.30 pm, at Bagni di Lucca’s English cemetery (about 320 yards from the Anglican church, on the opposite side of the river Lima), the Florence Cello Ensemble will give a concert under the direction of Lucio Labella Danzi for the presentation of the restoration of funerary monuments that will take place at 5 pm. The program includes the overture from Verdi’s I Masnadieri, the third movement from Elgar’s Cello concerto, the Sonata a Preghiera and the Variazioni sul Mosè by Paganini, Debussy’s Cakewalk and Puccini’s Crisantemi.  The concert is organized by the Michel De Montaigne Foundation and the municipality of Bagni di Lucca. In case of rain the concert will be held in the Public Library.


Benabbio’s Beauties

There’s yet another exhibition to feast one’s eyes in Bagni di Lucca Villa. The ‘L’ora Blu’ photographic group has selected some beautiful, mainly black and white, photographs from Benabbio.

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It’s not often realised that Benabbio has some of the greatest artistic treasures of any Val di Lima village. First is the Romanesque parish church dedicated to the Assumption of the virgin and consecrated in 1339. Its most valuable works of art are now housed in an adjoining museum which was once the oratorio of the most Holy Trinity. (See my post at for more on that museum.)

Benabbio also has its own theatre, the Eden (dating from 1780,) where such celebrities as Zacconi and Totò appeared and also where the princess of Lucca, Elisa Baciocchi, was part of its audience.

The castle of the Lupari has been the subject of recent intensive archaeological research by Pisa university. This has revealed its massive walls within which is the church of San Michele dating from 1218. Benabbio also has many amiable corners, its ‘Lucciola’ night-spot and an excellent eating place!

Famous people have been born in Benabbio including poet Pascoli’s Latin master Francesco Cianelli and its own most famous poet, Antonio Viviani, who held a position at the Napoleonic court in Rome. (For more on Benabbio’s famous people see my post at ).

Anyway we are here to celebrate Benabbio’s charms and these are a selection of the photographs on view:

My own favourite is this one:

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Francis and Cecilia

Lovers of early music (i.e. some of the best, most exciting music ever written) should remember for next year that the 21st Festival Toscano di Musica Antica has been in full swing in Pisa and ended this Sunday 28th August.

Thanks to a friend I was reminded of this superb festival and by 7 pm was entering the glorious cloister of the church of san Francesco in whose chapter house the first concert was to be held.

The festival’s title this year was ‘Bach forever’ and was chosen by its artistic director, Carlo Ipata, whose Auser (ancient name for Serchio river) band has become one of Italy’s premiere period music ensembles.


‘Bach forever’, for Bach never dies and if our solar system implodes then an exo-planet may well receive the sound contents of Voyager launched in 1977 and which includes the Maestro’s Brandenburg Concerto no 2.

The chapter house has some beautiful frescoes by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, a late gothic painter from Florence illustrating scenes from the life of Christ and dating from 1392.

They made an impressive backcloth to our first concert which was a performance, on harpsichord, of Bach’s three part inventions or sinfonia written as didactic pieces for his sons and students. As his introduction states:

My pieces are an honest method, by which the amateurs of the keyboard  are shown a clear way not only 1. To learn to play cleanly in two parts, but also, after further progress, 2. to handle three obligate parts correctly and well; and along with this not only to obtain good ideas but to develop the same well; above all, however, to achieve a cantabile style in playing and at the same time acquire a strong foretaste of composition.

Never could such academically titled pieces sound more enjoyable, for Bach is the supreme combiner of erudition and entertainment and they were played with  fluency by the young Carlo Pernigotti.

As an encore Carlo played a moving piece by Froberger, a predecessor greatly admired by Bach, dedicated to the memory of a friend who’d died in a domestic accident. Pernigotti stated that he felt that, in the present tragic time that Italy finds itself, this piece, called a tombeau, would be a suitable closure to his concert. Its plangent harmonies and deep sentiments were totally appropriate. Indeed, ever more so since his friend, the lutenist Blancrocher, fell to his death down a flight of steps which collapsed, an event – depicted by an eerily descending scale – which happened to several of the victims of Amatrice and adjoining villages.

During the concert’s interval an ‘apericena’ (dinner with aperitivo) was served courtesy of the l’alba (dawn) association. We were treated to farro dishes with fish sauce and as much prosecco as we desired. L’alba is a laudable association which aims at furthering autonomy for disadvantaged people. It does this through various means, the main one being catering. It has a bathing establishment called ‘Big Fish’ at Marina di Pisa, sheltered flats for helping people towards autonomy, art-therapy courses, ceramics workshops and restaurants and cafes serving natural products prepared under the supervision of professional chefs. For more information visit their web site at

Italy works largely through voluntary associations. We can see this is the situation around Amatrice but we can also see this in our local area where volunteer ambulances and first aid services are run by unpaid, enthusiastic persons. While the politicians gobble up the people’s taxes the people who truly run Italy are its voluntary associations.

(Incidentally, there’s a similar type of restaurant in piazza San Francesco, Lucca. The food is delicious and it’s enhanced by the fact that one is helping people who’ve suffered traumas to re-establish themselves. I remember a similar place in Woolwich London SE called the citizen’s gallery. I wonder if it is still functioning).

After a taste of south Italian Amari at a corner bar we wended our way to the church of Santa Cecilia (who appropriately is the patron saint of music.).

The Saint Cecilia church is another of those disgracefully neglected but very beautiful churches which those who can tear themselves away from the Piazza dei Miracoli will be able to enjoy. Founded around 1103 Santa Cecilia is a single nave church graced by a double lancet window around which are sited those rare Islamic ceramics one can find in a few other places in our area (e.g. at San Cassiano). The campanile, like Saint Francis’ church, is propped on top of the roof and is supported internally by a columnar structure. This is an excellent solution to the scarcity of land for a separate campanile and without sacrificing the church’s internal congregational space.

The altar is crowned by a painting of the martyrdom of Saint Cecilia by Salimbeni dated 1607.

Tthe best feature of the church is its acoustical property which glorified the wonderful concert we attended with Carlo Ipata’s Auser Musici and the absolutely unmissable Roberta Invernizzi, a soprano of immense virtuosistic drive I had been introduced in last Year’s Barga Opera festival. (To see and hear more of this gorgeously passionate singer go to ). Meanwhile here are some snippets of what Roberta sang at Santa Cecilia:

The program consisted mainly of arias from Gasparini’s operas. As in the case of the harpsichord recital we had seats on the front row and almost felt that she was singing just for us. It was an ecstatic experience for me and I forgot the stifling heat which summer Pisa generates, particularly within its buildings.

Carlo Ipata explained that this concert was part of a project to issue a new CD of Gasparini’s vocal music.

In case you haven’t come across Gasparini, neither did I until my friend introduced me to him.  Briefly, Gasparini is almost a local lad, having been born in Camaiore in 1661. His teacher was no less than Corelli under whom he studied in Rome and where his first opera ‘Roderico’ was produced. In 1702 he went to Venice and worked for ’La Pieta’ before he left and gave the job to Antonio Vivaldi. Returning to Rome in 1720 Gasparini produced his last big opera ‘Tigrane’.

J.S Bach appreciated Gasparini and copied his Missa canonica for use in Leipzig. Gasparini became teacher of, among others, Marcello, Quantz and Domenico Scarlatti.

It’s quite astonishing how such an important musical figure could have become completely unknown until rediscovered by the likes of Carlo Ipata.

Barga opera has been crucial in bringing Gasparini back to the stage with his ‘Bajazet’. (See my post on that production at

The evening concluded with La Invernizzi singing a seductive cantata by another composer who is constantly rising in my estimation, Nicola Porpora.

I could tell you more about Porpora, who gave Handel some tough competition while in London, but will spare you. Just watch and listen to this production of Porpora’s ‘Semiramide riconosciuta’ if you have not yet been converted to his luscious music.

Thankyou Roberta and thankyou Carlo for bringing back to us music which for far too long has been lying under piles of  dust and now is finally able to witness a sunlit resurrection and new life under your immaculate musicianship.

Our Swimming Pool

There are some people around who are not aficionados of private swimming pools. They feel that, like television and DVDs did for cinemas, they are an infliction on former large-scale social gatherings. Perhaps on-line buying and drone delivery may eventually do the same for supermarkets and future hypermarkets may become as quaint reminiscences of the socio-commercial scene as, sadly, British Home Stores are now. I sincerely hope not, however, for shopping can be a highly sociable activity. For example, I constantly meet friends and acquaintances at our local one at Penny Market Borgo a Mozzano and exchange notes.

However, there is nothing quite like being invited to a friend’s private swimming pool especially after a long walk on a sweltering summer’s day and when the company is good. When the pool looks out over extraordinary mountain views and even has a hydrotherapy facility  it’s as close to heaven as one can get on this planet. The pool I am secretly referring to also has the added advantage that it is fed by a natural spring so let no one complain that it’s taking away life-giving liquid from anyone else!

I do also love public baths just as much as the ancient Romans loved theirs and enjoy visiting our local spread of swimming pools which includes not only the ones at Bagni di Lucca and Borgo a Mozzano but also the refurbished and reorganised one at Gallicano.

The facilities there are good, the pools (one adults, one children) are open seven days a week from 9 is to 8 pm until around the middle of September or beyond, weather permitting. The staff is helpful (PS don’t forget to bring your obligatory bathing cap, otherwise they are on sale there at five euros), the all-day admission price is free for under-fives, five euros for under twelves and six euros for the rest of us. Decently priced refreshments, including soft drinks, beer, focaccie and ice cream, are available.

What more could one want: a deckchair or sunbed, clean water, a beautiful setting, friendly users to meet up with and chat?

Gallicano’s swimming pool facebook page is at

Unofrtunately, the open-air swimming pool season in our area barely lasts for three months – just as long as the wonderful lidos that were built during the art-deco era in London.

Thinking about those great water-temples, several of which still survive at Brockwell and other corners of London, I wrote this about the miraculously rescued Lido at Charlton London SE.




In summer’s light the lido elongates

fresh turquoise-dappled water to high sun.

Liquidity of wavelets captivates

and melts a splash of swimmers into one.


Ideals of expired years, young nature’s skin

unsheathed, pretended a new age of health

while war-clouds hung and hid mad fiend within

and river maidens lost their golden wealth.


Lank flowered dresses are undraped and breasts

and seaside conversations dream away

for secret gardens, lonely sands and quests

in search of that which stays pale flesh’s decay.


Entowelled by suburban rose-flanked wall

star-glinted water clasps me in its thrall.




Italy’s National Day of Mourning

Today for Italy it is a national day of mourning for the victims of the terrible earthquake in Rieti province and beyond.

Here is a screen shot from RAI 1, the main Italian TV station, this morning. It shows a tent city erected near to a destroyed town to house some of the thousands of survivors who will not have a home to sleep in for some unknown time to come. You’ll also notice the black ribbon of bereavement at the top left which will remain there all day on our TV screens. Also, all day there will be no commercial advertisements shown.

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I cannot remember these things ever having happened before. But then I have not lived long enough in Italy to be witness to such a horrific natural disaster