My dear travellers in sound, today I want to share some thoughts about the “IlluminArti” Festival in Piedimonte Matese, not far from Naples, where I had the honour of singing on Friday 1st June… at the magnificent Palazzo Ducale.

I love sharing the background to events I’m invited to, the human stories I encounter on these journeys… These meetings and adventures are the things that strike me the most. They enrich me, make me reflect and so often teach me important things.

This festival is a veritable miracle of love – the love of a group of young people led by Giovanna and her husband, who in the name of love for the place where they live, seven years ago invented this Festival, “IlluminArti” (a name that, in Italian, combines the concepts of “Enlighten yourself” with “the enlightening arts”). It took great faith and determination to overcome the numerous bureaucratic obstacles that prevented them from making this wonderful project a reality… They have done everything themselves, without any major external help, winning the challenge of love, overcoming fear, victimization and adversities of all kinds… Today, more than 5 thousand people flock to the IlluminArti Festival in Piedimonte Matese, it has become one of the most prestigious festivals in the area … When I finished my concert the other Friday, I immediately receive a loving embrace from Giovanna and her partner, who explain to me how their beautiful festival was born, a festival in the name of Aurora, an Arcadian poet who made Piedimonte Matese one of the most important places in Neapolitan culture:

“The Ducal Palace, which belonged to the Gaetani family of L’Aquila d’Aragona, had a wonderful Court Theater, frescoed halls, concerts, plays, painters, artists… All thanks to Aurora, who made patronage her raison d’etre, bringing to court Handel, Luca Giordano, Paolo De Matteis, Solimena…

“And then time did what time does. The rooms fell empty, the theater is gone, but the town could not remain silent. Not after so much splendour. We wanted to rekindle those lights, revive those abandoned, crumbling places. Bring light to illuminate the minds of men and woman who have an eye for their origins. ‘Let’s light up the town,’ – we said one spring evening, seven years ago. ‘Let’s throw open the doors to art, culture and music, fill these forgotten spaces with beauty and magic…’

“And so a small group of dreamers – myself, Gianfrancesco, Ada, Ester and some other friends – set up the Byblos Cultural Association (www.byblosidee.it, www.facebook.com/illuminarti) and gave birth to IlluminArti.

“We light up the town with color, we throw open the doors of courtyards, churches are reborn, hidden corners rediscovered, music, readings, exhibitions… A whirlwind of emotions, wonder and enchantment… Even the locals stumble upon places they didn’t know existed, grateful to the organizers for the unique spectacle that takes place on one very special evening.

“Once it got going, there was no stopping IlluminArti… Seven years on, for one night anxiously awaited all year long, the town swarms with curious onlookers, entranced by the beauty, the magic, over forty events offered by that group of dreamers which has become a big family, a community that will not be beaten by neglect and abandonment…

“IlluminArti has made it thanks to a unique team of people who give their time and commitment for free: graphics, press office, installations, artistic direction and much more. All as a result of a love for the place they come from, for a past that cannot be forgotten, for their local area, its beauty, art and culture. We may be dreamers, but our dream has become a reality. And Aurora, we are sure, would be happy. Indeed, she is.”

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