Banda Ionica
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cd cover Banda Ionica

(music is traditional, audio ©1996 Dunya, used by permission)

In the villages of Sicily and parts of southern Italy there is a long standing but little known brass band tradition, music used for somber religious ceremonies (i.e., Good Friday) and funerals. Banda Ionica is reviving this tradition on on Passione. These 20 musicians from Sicily have remembered and uncovered some intense and beautiful music for horns, reeds and percussion; a slow, melancholy march music that resonates a half century later in soundtracks for Fellini and Hitchcock's films (in fact I would swear I have heard the opening track in some suspense film before). There is a beckoning, a lure in this music that is inexplicable. If you listen, you will feel it. - CF

From the liner notes:

Dawn has just broken. In a few minutes the slow and solemn procession of the Mysteries will begin from the hill of the Abbazia of San Michele Arcangelo. As the band plays the first few notes, an uncontrollable emotion lines the faces of thousands of devotees with tears. Tears not only of sorrow and mourning for the Passion of Christ, but anguish, knots of anxiety that are loosening up even in those who are not religious. The procession will last for at least four hours along the narrow streets of the town. The accompaniment, and affection, created by the band, is indispensable in helping the mourners abandon themselves to the journey, to not feel the tiredness, to experience death as a positive mystery. This event takes place on Good Friday every year in Procida, as do similar processions in a multitude of towns in the south of Italy.

It is a moment of collective truth and the community is not ashamed to show its weaknesses and frustrations. Everyone can let out their tears, vent their tension, forget their troubles and actually experience beneficial effects. Death, though present in every gaze, every movement and in the statues of the Pietà and the Madonna dell’Addolorata (Our Lady of the Distressed), is received and regenerated. On this holy day the band music fills the empty spaces, covers the noise, nurtures and protects the souls of the crowd.

The music performed by BANDA IONICA in the Cd Passione are funeral marches used today by municipal bands, especially in Campania, Calabria and Sicily. They are scores by composers who did not go down into history, such as Enrico Petrella, a contemporary of Verdi. Petrella composed the famous "Ione" in 1858, still today one of the most popular marches. This music is not often performed at funerals but accompanies these processions during Holy Week. It has become part of that tradition and has a place in the heart of the collective memory. These funereal marches however do not sound funereal -- they sound like something out of a film by Fellini or Benigni. They could highlight a dramatic scene from Walt Disney or Hitchcock. In fact it seems they have had a certain influence on Italian composers of movie soundtracks. Never before, in the recent past, the music for marching and brass bands has received such a great attention and recognition by audience and critics as today. A great discovery or re-discovery. Following up the success of Kusturica’s Underground film the repertoire of Balkan brass bands has today a huge success. La BANDA IONICA, from Sicily, presents in his first Cd a different tradition, coming from the repertoire of Southern Italy, an Italian way to the Brass Band music. A tradition rooted in the heritage left by the great Italian Opera composers (Verdi, Puccini, Mascagni, Donizetti) of last century and beginning of the present one. on our side of the Adriatic Sea there is a tradition of music well rooted in the life (and death) of the local inhabitants.

BANDA IONICA is composed by twenty musicians, Sicilian, of different ages, that have played and / or are still play in marching bands. It is directed by: Roy Paci (Mau Mau, Stefano Maltese) and Rosario Patania (Stefano Maltese, various ensembles of contemporary music). Most of the player of BANDA IONICA play exclusively in marching bands.

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