The 2019 Melbourne Taranta Festival: CGS seduces in a hypnotic performance at the Thornbury Theatre

Electrifying, hypnotic, cutting-edge and eclectic, the ground-breaking music of Italian award-winning and world-renowned group Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, from Puglia in southern Italy, is an exotic fusion of traditional sounds and new beats and rhythms that are the result of the band's reinterpretation of the old - while they move their folkloric music into an exciting era.

by
Jytte Holmqvist
on
March 28, 2019
Category:
Art & culture
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Drawing from a medieval legend that has it that the only way for the victim of the tarantula spider-bite to ease their suffering and eventually rid themselves of the venom flowing through their veins is through frantic and ultimately therapeutic dance and music, the CGS music in the sign of the taranta or tarantula spider, is intense, fast and urgent and their accompanying dance often takes the form of the pizzica or the tarantella. Listeners are hypnotised by the beat of the tambourin, the haunting and evocative sound of the violin, the bagpipe and the organetto and it is no wonder that the band won the Songlines Music Award for Best Group, in London 2018. Their music is one of a kind and conquers the hearts of people across the globe.

Welcoming the 7-member CGS band to Melbourne, originally founded in 1975, Co.As.It in Carlton hosted an evening dedicated to the Salento and Puglia musical traditions on 13 March. During this well attended press conference, warmly approachable musicians Mauro Durante and Massimiliano Morabito skilfully introduced us to the history and traditions of their music, emphasising and clarifying their points through an enlightening video that took us through the history of southern Italian folklore dance and music, particularly that of the tarantella  ̶  Mauro’s and Massimiliano’s own comprehensive knowledge of their music and its traditions making for a highly interesting evening where the audience was invited to ask questions and the night ended with aficionados coming together in dance. A third band member, force of nature Giancarlo Paglialunga, further demonstrated the specific beats on drums.

One of the absolute highlights of the Melbourne Taranta Festival, held 13-17 March (the closing ceremonies are organised today) was the CGS in Concert at the Thornbury Theatre on the evening of 15 March, which drew large crowds and became an intoxicating event filled with seductive music. A band consisting of five male and two female members (in addition to band leader Mauro, Massimiliano and Giancarlo, also superbly talented Giulio Bianco, Emanuele Licci, singer/instructor Alessia Tondo who absolutely shines in the Salentino song Quannu te visciu, and who is sometimes accompanied by Maria Mazzotta, and beautiful dancer Silvia Perrone  ̶ moving suavely and elegantly and alternating her performances dressed in either a flowy white dress, or a red dress highlighting both her own sensuality and that of their music), in concert an absolutely phenomenal CGS combined music and dance in a number of seductive acts where the multicultural audience was invited to participate, swaying their hips to the beat in front of the stage.

Interactive, intoxicating, organic, raw and exhilarating, the sometimes trance-like CGS music that filled the Thornbury Theatre this evening had the power to make the floor shake and the people move extatically to the rhythm, making for an experience like few others. Through the story of the tarantula spider, the legend becomes reality and CGS proves that music can transform lives  ̶  then and now  ̶  and take us to a whole different level; into a magic realm where past and present meet and where we all become one with the music. Little would the tarantula spider know about the power it has over all of us through the music and dance it has inspired throughout the years!

CGS albums:

Canzoniere (2017)

Quaranta/40 (2015)

Quaranta (feat. Valerio Combass, Ludovico Einaudi, Fanfara Tirana) (2015)

Focu d’amore (2013)

Pizzica indiavolata (2012)

Canti di terra d’Otranto e della Grecia Salentina (2008)

Serenata (2002)

Alla riva del mare (2002

Viva ci balla (2002)

Pizzicarella mia (2002)

Cara Taranta (2000)

Canti e pizzichi d’amore (2000)

Ballati tutti quanti (1998)

Jytte Holmqvist

Jytte Holmqvist is a movie enthusiast with a doctorate in Screen and Media Culture from the University of Melbourne and a keen interest in contemporary Spanish and Italian culture. She has established a publishing record and presented at conferences nationally and abroad. Her interest in Italian film began in earnest at the University of Auckland when in the paper Italy on Screen she explored films by Fellini, Rossellini, De Sica, the Taviani brothers, and Pasolini - to mention but a few. With that grew a love for Italian cinema and the fascinating world that it opens up to the viewer.