Well it’s been a long time coming but finally in a sharp, freezing cold December evening, the Procession Fantastique took to the narrow streets of Barga Vecchia in front of a slightly bemused but nevertheless entertained and well wrapped up audience.
The Procession Fantastique had been on the “drawing board” for number of years as a collaboration between the composer Nicolao Valiensi and the group “Artists at Work” – Fabrizio Da Prato and Keane.
It was originally intended as a summer event to draw attention to the proposed roadway to be tunnelled under Mount Tambora to link Garfagnana and Versiglia on the coast.
Instead, a collaboration between music, art installation and performance perfectly fitted a project to safeguard local musical traditions organised by the Associazione Polyphonia which has been running for the last week in this area under the title of Tradizione & Tradimenti- Traditional and Betrayal.
The massed musicians of the Filarmonica Mascagni di Camporgiano and members of the La piccola Banda Metafisica supplied the musical side to this story and four stout men carrying on their shoulders a huge plexiglass object wrapped in ivy which had been constructed specially for the occasion by the Artists at Work group supplied the artistic input.
And here we get to the “slightly bemused” section of this article as there was some doubt as just what the plexiglass object was.
Could it be an enormous device for listening or was it maybe a 3 metre long megaphone?
All doubts worked quickly resolved when a series of musicians placed their instruments at the small end and made their voices heard right through Barga Vecchia.
La piccola Banda Metafisica
Clarinetti Fabrizio Desideri Federica Ceccherini Lara Panicucci Giovanni Vai
Clarinetto basso Rossano Emili
Flauti Antonio Barsanti Serena Panicucci Andreina Crudeli
Trombe Nazzareno Brischetto Federico Trufelli
Trombone Silvio Bernardi
Bombardino Marcello Angeli
Sassofoni Wardy Hamburg Piero Bronzi Maurizio Rossi
Tube Marco Fagioli Matteo Muccini
Percussioni Giuseppe Sardina Piero Orsi
The crown of ivy
Dionysus was the Ancient Greek god of wine, agriculture, festivity and theatre. The festivals related to Dionysus sometimes included drunken frenzy and ecstasy as an important component of the revelry. In Ancient Rome Dionysus was known as Bacchus.
In most versions of the ancient stories about Dionysus, his father is Zeus, the king of the gods, and his mother is the human Seleme. Both the grapevine and the ivy vine are his symbols.
Dionysus is often depicted wearing a crown of ivy and carrying a thyrsus. The thyrsus was a wand or staff made from a stalk of the giant fennel plant or the branch of a tree. Ivy was wrapped around the stalk or branch, which was topped with a pine cone. The thyrsus is believed to have been a fertility symbol. Dionysus sometimes carries a kantharos, or drinking cup, as well as a thyrsus.
Why did grapes and ivy become associated with Dionysus/Bacchus? Ancient people believed that Dionysus discovered how to make wine from grapes and taught the skill to humans. Therefore he became the god of wine.
Ivy represented peace to the Druids, perhaps because of its ability to bind different plants or even different kinds of plants together.