The Italians are coming! The Italians are coming! That may be cause for alarm or jubilation, depending. It’s definitely the latter at the Hopkins Center for the Arts this coming week; Dartmouth’s performing arts venue welcomes two very different musical groups from Italia, as well as an assortment of silent films. Yep, silent. Or as the Italians call it, cinema muto.
This weekend brings selections from the Pordenone (Italy) Silent Film Festival, an organization dedicated to the preservation and study of international works from the medium’s first few decades. And, of course, to their screening. The films this weekend — including a pre-Mickey animation by Walt Disney — will have live accompaniment, three of them by Pomfret keyboardist Bob Merrill.
There’s nothing muto about the acts arriving next Tuesday and Wednesday: the Venice Baroque Orchestra and Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, respectively. The first, which Hop programming director Margaret Lawrence calls “a brilliant chamber orchestra,” is particularly known for its Vivaldi. “The bow is held a little differently, a little lighter over the strings,” she says. “It makes the music feel more lively and facile.” If a regular orchestra can be likened to a bus, Lawrence suggests, the Venice Baroque is “a sports car.” This from a city of gondolas and water taxis.
The Canzoniere, from the Adriatic Coast, are at the forefront of a movement of young Italian musicians who are reinterpreting the ancient music of Puglia. Their sound is linked to tarantata dancing. “Some say it was a form of possession, some say from a spider bite,” says Lawrence. “It is frenzied, amazing dancing.” As is the music: a quicksilver, whirling dervish of sound through which traces of multiple ethnic traditions seem to course. There’s even a set of bagpipes!
Passionate Italophiles who converge on Hanover this week may encounter even more enthusiasm on campus. “The Italian and Portuguese departments are excited,” Lawrence reports. “There will be plenty of eating and drinking while [the musicians] are here.”
Italian Events at the Hop: Pordenone Silent Film Festival, Friday, February 1, through Sunday, February 3, various times, at Loew Auditorium. $10/ticket, $30/five. Venice Baroque Orchestra, Tuesday, February 5, 7 p.m. at Spaulding Auditorium. $25-40. Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, Wednesday, February 6, 7 p.m. at Spaulding Auditorium. $23-30. All at Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H. hop.dartmouth.edu