Sparagna: christmasof the common people
The legacy of popular Christmas songs boasts ancient origins in each region of Italy, where it has taken different forms according to the variety of dialects, traditions and the typical rhythms of the respective cultural areas. With the folk revival of the early 1960s, scholars and singers began to collect and creatively reproduce a liturgical repertoire which has never completely disappeared, but whose survival is nonetheless constantly threatened by the dominance of foreign Christmas songs on Italian radio and television. Since the 1980s, Ambrogio Sparagna (born in 1956) has devoted an important part of his efforts as researcher and musician to recovering regional traditions, reintroducing songs that are often still sung during novenas and liturgical celebrations, from the Alps to Sicily. Beginning from Lazio and central Italy, his work of revival extended first to the south and then to regions of the north, thanks to the involvement of genuine artists of the various traditions. These musicians and singers came together to play in the novel Orchestra Popolare Italiana, which has made its home at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome. Since 2008, the Orchestra has assembled during the Christmas period to perform La Chiarastella, a tribute to the Christmas of the common people, before an audience of dedicated followers. Of particular interest in this collection is the pioneering work of St. Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori, to which Sparagna has often added unreleased pieces; it further includes new arrangements of compositions from the classical tradition, such as Donizetti’s Pastorale.