Sunday, Feb. 19: Esercito Concertante with Luisa Sello

Esercito Concertante

Featuring Luisa Sello, Anton Niculescu,  & Aurora Sabia with special guest Charles Mengine

Sunday, Feb. 19 | 5 p.m. | Heinz History Center’s Detre Library & Archives

$15 adults, $12 seniors, $10 students, military, Mondo Italiano and History Center members 

Inspired by the 100th anniversary of World War I, an army of musicians will transform the letters of soldiers from the war from pain into art. This original program is inspired by letters by Pittsburgh soldier Paul Howe (Paul Howe Papers and Photographs, 1902-2005, MSS 734, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center) and coordinated in partnership with Istituto Mondo Italiano.

This event features live instrumentation by international Italian flutist Luisa Sello, cellist Anton Niculescu, and pianist Aurora Sabia and readings performed by actor Charles Mengine.

The concert is a part of the project ‘Great Music’ supported by the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia and organized by the Association Amici della Musica of Udine and is included in the calendar of the Events for the celebration of the ‘World War 1915-1918.’ 

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Italian-Americans: Find Your Roots in the Old Country

On Monday, February 20th, at 1 PM, at the Mt Lebanon Public Library, Rich Venezia will be presenting Italian-Americans: Find Your Roots in the Old Country. The lecture is free and open to the public. The lecture will be genealogical in nature, and is geared towards both beginners and intermediate-level researchers who are interested in learning more about their Italian heritage.

They will be discussing tips on finding the exact place of Italian origin, the basics of Italian records, what’s available and where, and tips and tricks for finding elusive ancestors. Discover your famiglia and make Nonna proud!

The lecture is being sponsored by Mt Lebanon Genealogy Society, with more information here: http://www.mtlebanonlibrary.org/306/Genealogy-Society

More information on Rich’s lectures can be found here: http://www.richroots.net/.

La Befana: The Italian Witch

By Alberto Macchione

Christmas was over and the inevitable post yule tide remorse sets in. The feast is over, the family disperses, the presents are packed away and the decorations seem to take a different meaning, like a tombstone marking that the spirit of Christmas had passed through these walls in days past.

I come from a family of Italian immigrants and no country has contributed more to the traditions of the secular and Christian Christmas than Italy.  In my parent’s day, in the small villages of southern Italy, Christmas wasn’t such a big deal and there wasn’t much said of the Santa Claus we all know and love. My mother told me that they didn’t really give out much in the way of presents on Christmas day. Instead, they were still waiting for the real Santa Claus, only the real Santa Claus wasn’t a big fat man in a bright red suit but rather a woman, a tattered scrawny old woman, a witch in fact. Then it struck me, there are ’12 days of Christmas’. My mother was right. Christmas isn’t truly over until January 6th known as ‘The Epiphany’ in some Christian faiths.

So Christmas in the Christian Calendar is a little longer than many realize and that the birth of Jesus is somewhere near the beginning of that story. So what does the birth of Jesus have to do with an old witch? [Read more…]

How to Can Fresh Mozzarella

Verdi: The Force of Destiny (La Forza del Destino)

composer_02_1By Alberto Macchione

Almost everybody knows the famous composer Italian composer ‘Verdi’ who was born this month in 1813, and those who don’t will find his music familiar. Verdi’s compositions have adorned television commercials, thread through pop music and classically, well, ‘La Traviata’ is simply the most popular Opera in the world. 

‘Rigoletto’, ‘Il trovatore’, ‘Requiem’ and his masterpiece ‘Aidia’ are some of the greatest librettos ever written with scintillating scores that are unparalleled. If all that isn’t enough, Verdi’s music is a mainstay in the movies, you can hear it in ‘Twilight’, ‘Django Unchained’, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and has been credited in over 300 television shows and films including ‘Ren and Stimpy’ and ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine.’

While Verdi is possibly the world’s most famous composer to you and I, what might not be known outside of Italy is the significance of his role in Italian political history. Verdi was not only a genial musical creator but he was instrumental in the creation of the Italian state. If General Giuseppe Garibaldi was General George Washington who united the territories as a leader in the new America, then Giuseppe Verdi was Benjamin Franklin who leveraged his notoriety and genius to not only foster unity throughout a disjointed population but was foundational in defining Italy much in the way Franklin defined the American ethos during the Enlightenment. [Read more…]