24 October 2020

Rosario Altadonna – bagpipe and flute handmaker


Rosario Altadonna was born in Messina in 1979 from an early age he joined the Mata and Grifone Folk Group (FITP) in 1985 directed by Maestro Orazio Grasso. Thanks to the group, he began touring Italy and the world very early on to spread his traditions.
Growing up, he undertakes research on Popular Traditions, specializing in the knowledge and use of various musical instruments that are part of the Sicilian tradition, such as the “zampogna a paru” of the Peloritani Mountains and the bifara (popular oboe), thanks also to close relationship established with some manufacturers of these instruments, Rosario learns the construction techniques on the lathe, making his own the secrets of an art, otherwise destined to disappear, of the makers – bagpipe tuners.
No less important are the relationships established with other old personalities, from the province of Messina, linked to the agro-pastoral world, expert players-builders of friscaletti, double and triple flutes, transverse flutes in reeds, simple and double clarinets, all have taught something, even indirectly, but above all they have transmitted their passion and their art orally as has been the case for centuries.
The love for these instruments leads him to become an expert player of all traditional Sicilian instruments, but above all, over time he refines his playing technique with the friscalettu, thus becoming part of the virtuosos of this extraordinary instrument with which on occasion of the IV edition of the Festival of popular music organized by the FITP , in January 2013, he received the award for “best performer of a piece of music with a traditional instrument” organized by the I.O.V. (The International Organization of folk Art). Rosario Altadonna today is a reference for all those people who live off popular music, players from all over Sicily are always in contact with him, even via the web, to appreciate the instruments that are truly exceptional characterized by a very pure sound and an impeccable intonation.
He is recognized as the “Father of Folklore 2012” for Sicily by the F.I.T.P., an important recognition for worthy people of the federation, with the subtitle of “the knowledge of hands”. In addition to the friscaletto, he builds all the musical instruments belonging to the Sicilian tradition, straight flutes with different combinations of digital holes, 3 + 1, 4 + 1, 5 + 1, 6 + 1, 6 + 2, 7 + 1; transverse flutes in reed; double and triple flutes; reed clarinets, single reed single (zammaruni) and double; paro bagpipe; pifara or bifara; wooden recorders; frame tambourines. The collaboration with the Folk Group, allows Rosario, transported by an irrepressible desire to know, to undertake a fruitful research activity on traditional folk instruments of the countries in which he has had the opportunity to perform and the deepening of this knowledge has led him to travel to study the different musical cultures. In his artisan laboratory, today, countless wind instruments of all kinds are built and every part of the world, in fact the studies and researches of years give him the possibility to create, in addition to typically Sicilian instruments, above all flutes of every culture, Mediterranean , Celtic, Oriental, and overseas.
The workshop was widely mentioned in the 2017 edition of “The Folklore of Italy, Sicily” published by F.I.T.P. and included in the important publication, published by “La Repubblica”, “The Sicily Guides 2020”, as a place of cultural value to visit in Sicily, to corroborate the important work done and the reputation acquired over the years. It is easy to observe among the many many reed instruments, both simple and double, such as the Indian punji, the zummara, the zurna, the hulusi, the bawu or simple wooden or reed flutes such as the quena, the native, the dizi, the xiao , whisle, bansuri to get to the kaval or to the Persian ney, in short, visiting the small laboratory of Rosario is like taking a tour of the world through the tools of every culture and immemorial history.
Professor of organology of Sicilian folk instruments at the School of Ancient Crafts of the Municipality of Messina, today Rosario Altadonna holds the important position of “Head of the ethnorganological laboratories” of the Museum of Instruments and popular music of the Peloritani, directed by the Kiklos Cultural Association, whose president is Dr. Salvatore Bombaci, scientific curator Dr. Mario Sarica expert and well-known Messina musicologist with whom he periodically collaborates in the realization of cultural initiatives in clubs and associations, dedicated to the enhancement of Messina instruments and popular music.
He periodically organizes various courses and seminars, as well as private lessons at every level, to transmit and spread his knowledge about these instruments, their construction and playing techniques, as well as their history and contexts. use of real instruments, organologically very simple that carry in them the history of the peoples who used them and will continue to use them thanks to people like Rosario Altadonna, who dedicates her life to them. At the same time he carries out didactic-concert activities with the friscalettu, the zampogna in paro dei Monti Peloritani, the popular oboe bifara, the tambourine, etc. at the lower and high schools of Messina and its province, relating to the technical, construction and historical characteristics of these instruments.
His skills as an expert builder-player of Sicilian popular instruments and the knowledge of Prof. Sergio Bonanzinga, professor of anthropology of music and musicology at the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy of the University of Palermo led him to collaborate from outside in these courses by putting himself available to researchers and scholars for audio / video recordings regarding the construction and execution techniques of the friscaletto, the bagpipe, the tambourine, etc.
For several years he has dedicated himself to the study of composition, playing music and arranging various traditional Sicilian poems, composing some pieces for popular Christmas repertoire bagpipe and oboe. His last effort was the creation of a book entirely dedicated to the friscaletto, co-financed by the Sicilian Region Department of Culture, judged a work of considerable cultural depth by scholars and researchers, such as prof. Sergio Bonanzinga, who signs the presentation of the same book. For some time he has written and published ethno-anthropological research on Sicilian folk instruments, for the bimonthly magazine published by FITP “Il Folklore d’Italia”. He is currently working on a forthcoming publication dedicated to the double flute and the triple flute, instruments now extinct from Sicilian instrumental practice of which Rosario remains the last builder.

Referent: Group “Mata e Grifone”
Email: oraziomg@alice.it
Phone: 347.1811973
Address: Via Strada Militare n.25, Bordonaro, Messina (Sicily)
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