San Giacomo Festival

My collaboration with the San Giacomo Festival community last almost a decade. This incredible festival ( not only presents to its public almost two hundred concerts every year, but it is also able to support, through those concerts, the Daily Meal of the Poor at the Augustinian Friars of Bologna, which has never stopped serving a meal since its beginning.

The Festival includes music of any eras and you can listen, in each season, to a variety of styles that even the most representative concert seasons are often not able to offer: Masses in Gregorian chant, ancient instruments, small series dedicated to the lute, harpsichord, fortepiano, piano, guitar, contemporary music, etc. Thousands of concerts since 2007 that enrich the local community and tourists who are in Bologna visiting the city.

The “backbone” of this complex machine is Father Domenico Vittorini, the most stubborn and outspoken person I ever met, qualities that do not take away from him his remarkable generosity. He listened to me play with a violinist, who asked me to accompany him barely a week before the concert because his pianist was sick. Father Domenico, who doesn’t take well changes in the program, never believed I learned the music in such a short time, thinking that we just didn’t have the courage to tell him of the switch and waited until the last minute. However, he then discovered that besides being a musician, I had a passion for websites, design, etc. Thus he asked me to help for season booklets, festival website, newsletters, organize some of the concerts, and other duties. I have moved from Italy to Texas, and then from Texas to Florida, and I am still helping dealing with all the above from wherever I am. I have also played for this festival several time, and it is always such a pleasure to be back and be surrounded by such beautiful historical buildings and paintings.

There are two main locations for the concerts:

  • The Basilica of San Giacomo Maggiore, an historic Roman Catholic church serving as a monastery of Augustinian friars, was built starting in 1267. It houses the famous Bentivoglio Chapel, featuring numerous Renaissance artworks.
  • The Oratory of Saints Cecilia and Valeriano, contiguous to the portico of the church of San Giacomo Maggiore, was built at the site of a Romanesque church commissioned by the then ruler of Bologna, Giovanni II Bentivoglio. It was frescoed starting in 1505 by Renaissance painters associated with the Bentivoglio court, including Francesco Francia, Lorenzo Costa and Amico Aspertini. The frescoes cover the walls flanking the oratory entrance. Scenes from the life of Saint Cecilia (patroness of musicians) and her husband Valerianus are portrayed in ten panels.

I believe it is now abundantly clear how much I love Bologna, where, by the way, you can eat the most amazing food. Hence, if you are planning a trip to Italy, don’t forget to visit this stunning sites and enjoy a glass of good red wine with a delicious plate of tortellini!