Partners Spotlight: Italian Cultural Institute

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Salone di Cultura Partners Spotlight: Istituto Italiano di Cultura and the Consulate General of Italy

Did You Know: Jazz music was censored in Italy during Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime. But the ban did not reach the sheltered lives of his children. His son Romano developed a love for the genre as a child and became one of Italy’s most knowledgeable critics and eventually an accomplished performer, having taught himself how to play the piano. He was even praised by the mayor of Rome for playing a part in the spreading and popularizing the artistic form of jazz in Italy.

‘While it is still not widely known outside Italy, many of the greatest piano players in jazz today are Italian. In fact, in the new millennium, the strongest jazz scene outside the United States is Italian. Most of these pianists began their careers as thoroughly-schooled and technically-accomplished classical pianists, then discovered jazz, and underwent a metamorphosis. There are several remarkable factors that have contributed to that development: Italy has been popular on the touring itineraries of major American artists, providing young Italian musicians direct exposure to primary sources; there are several outstanding jazz programs like the one the St. Louis College of Music in Rome; Italy has proactive, indigenous jazz record labels; there is an enthusiastic, devoted jazz audience; and, finally, there is a formal and spiritual affinity between jazz and Italian popular music.’ (

At the 2016 Salone di Cultura, Italian jazz great Gabriele Mirabassi and Espresso Manifesto will be together again playing songs from our extraordinary collaboration on the Songs of Paolo Conte CD. Gabriele’s performance is possible thanks to the support of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura and the Consulate General of Italy. Recently, the two organizations collaborated with Jazz FM 91.1 for the series “Sounds of Italy”, which saw the participation of jazz greats Claudio Filippini, Mirko Signorile, Rita Marcotulli and Giovanni Guidi. Those four musicians were selected by the director of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Alessandro Ruggera. The series was created to introduce the Canadian public to the many aspects of Italian jazz. Considering the great success of the “Sounds of Italy”, talks are underway to continue it with other talented Italian musicians. The performances were recorded and are being aired on a regular basis on Jazz FM 91.1.

The Istituto Italiano di Cultura – the Cultural Section of the Consulate General of Italy in Toronto – was established in 1976 and is supported mainly by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Istituto is a centre for cultural and academic activities, a school of Italian language and civilization, and a hub for contemporary Italian culture. As well as a venue for art exhibitions, lectures, screenings, the Istituto provides the opportunity for cultural collaboration between Italian and Canadian organizations and individuals, in order to facilitate exchange in the field of theatre, music and cinema. It supports initiatives which favour intercultural and multilateral dialogue based on the principles of democracy, reciprocal respect and international solidarity and it is often involved in events organized by other cultural offices of the EU countries.



After receiving a degree in Italian literature at Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice, Alessandro Ruggera became a lecturer at the University of Prague and then in Italy until 2007, after which he began working with the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In 2011 he collaborated with the Venice Biennale on the “Italian Pavilion”, dedicated to Italian artists abroad and then that same year became director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Addis Ababa. He has written a volume on Prague, and has translated Kafka’s Metamorphosis, as well as a selection of Czech authors. On January 5, 2015 he became director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto.




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