The ‘Italy Sri Lanka Charity Concert’  held on June 11 by the Italian Embassy to show their support and solidarity with Sri Lanka after the recent terror attacks featured a line-up of  impressive musicians from Italy who performed for a select audience at the Archbishop’s House in Colombo. Internationally renowned violin soloist Gennaro Cardaropoli and [...]


With love from Italy: Music to heal Lanka


The ‘Italy Sri Lanka Charity Concert’  held on June 11 by the Italian Embassy to show their support and solidarity with Sri Lanka after the recent terror attacks featured a line-up of  impressive musicians from Italy who performed for a select audience at the Archbishop’s House in Colombo.

Intense and expressive: The Italian ensemble with violinist Gennaro Cardaropoli, and (below),soprano Rodica Vica and flautist Antonio Senatore

Internationally renowned violin soloist Gennaro Cardaropoli and world-renowned flautist Antonio Senatore in an interview with the Sunday Times on the morning of the concert, said they had no hesitation about performing in Sri Lanka following the attacks. They made it a priority to rearrange their schedules to be able to come to our island to share their gifts. Music unites us all and is a universal language to express our emotions, and during times of grief it is most important to remember that we are not alone and that there are people who support us and stand with us, Senatore said. This Baroque concert was their way of showing us their support.

The concert additionally consisted of Italy’s most talented and expressive conductor Jacopo Sipari Di Pescasseroli, the coloratura soprano Rodica Vica who thrilled the audience  with her intense vocal agility and an orchestra composed of some of the very best young musicians in Italy. The intent of the concert is to aid the reconstruction of damaged churches.

An Italian investor  based in Sri Lanka has volunteered to cover the costs of commissioning new stained glass windows for St. Anthony’s church in Kochchikade. The windows will be created by famed artisans in Verona, the very same artisans who crafted the masterpieces seen in the Bari Cathedral and the Basilica of St. Paul. Maestro Di Pescasseroli will also host a sister concert in Italy so that various Italian benefactors will have the opportunity to support the embassy’s fundraising efforts.

Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons was chosen because it presents the circular nature of the world. Just as autumn and winter represent death, pain, and sorrow, it allows the budding of new life and opportunities in spring and lets life flourish and thrive in summer. Sri Lanka has just experienced the cruel nature of autumn and winter, so the musicians wanted to promote hope as spring and summer are yet to come something we must not lose sight of.

Senatore also explains that his flute solo, “Il Gardellino”, follows the life of a little bird, and is innately a joyful melody. Music like this is incredibly healing. It allows us to appreciate the fragility of life and understand how to heal from the pain it leaves us with. It gives us the tools to recover in unity with the people we have around us, he says.

Before the concert began, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith addressed the audience at the Archbishop’s House auditorium about the importance of  love and tolerance. Referring to the movie Castaway to emphasize our need for societal companionship, not just within a select community, but beyond borders, he described how, in the movie, the castaway’s deprivation of human contact was destroying his ability to survive to such an extent that he had to create a replacement with coconuts just to keep himself semi-sane.

He wanted this expression of music to remind us how we are one people and that we need each other to survive.

There was a hush as the audience listened to Senatore play “Il Gardellino” supported by the ensemble, which was the first piece of the night. Senatore was flawless in his execution as he simulated the life and movement of a little bird. It was fresh and inspiring. This was followed by “La Primavera” (Spring), that introduced violin virtuoso Cardaropoli. His performance was sensitive and presented a deep and expressive  tone. The cello-violin interplay was exuberant and melodic. Cardaropoli additionally performed a solo at the end of the concert – a work by Paganini. His dexterous mobility and unique control over his instrument were awe-inspiring.

Interspersed between the Four Seasons were demonstrations of Vica’s enthralling vocal agility. She had the audience spellbound as she took us on a guided tour of operatic emotions. The orchestra under the baton of Maestro Di Pascasseroli played as one. The Maestro was animated, expressive and completely possessed by the music. It was a treat to see the musical electricity that ran through his entire body be fed into the musicians as they played. His energy was infectious and riveting. It was a gift for all those who were able to experience the evening.

A 300-year-old violin
Violinist Gennaro Cardaropoli performed with a very special violin at the Italy-Sri Lanka Charity Concert– a 300-year-old Guarneri violin lent to him by the Pro Canale Foundation especially for this concert. The violin is valued at approximately four million Euros. The violin required its own passport and has been used as the first violin in the Hollywood Orchestra for the past 15 years. It is the same violin that was used for every major violin soundtrack in many blockbuster movies over the last 15 years.Cardaropoli feels that it is a huge honour to be lent this violin and that he always shakes when he opens the case because it is like holding the Mona Lisa in his hands.

Italian Ambassador Rita Giuliana Mannelli and conductor Jacopo Sipari Di Pescasseroli

Deputy Ambassador Allegra Baistrocchi

The invitees at Archbishop’s House. Pix by Sammera Weerasekera

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