Albano Laziale, just a stone’s throw from the Pope’s summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, lies at the heart of an area of rolling hills, the Castelli Romani, famous for ancient monuments, outstanding food and wine.
However, each April, the town also boasts an international Youth Band Festival now in its 20th year, where top school bands and orchestras from all over the world have performed.
This year the festival hosted the debut performance of the recently formed Italian Brass Band at its ornate Alba Radians theatre.
The evening’s entertainment included music by Berlioz, Bizet and Tchaikovsky, Philip Sparke and Peter Graham, with soloists Luciano di Luca (euphonium) and Francesco Crivello (soprano cornet), delivering riveting performances of ‘Carmen Fantasy’ and ‘Flowerdale’.
The Italian Brass Band, a non-profit cultural association, is one of a very small handful of ‘British style’ brass bands in Italy.
The brainchild of a small group of enthusiastic musicians, it brings together professionals from military bands in Rome (Army, Police, Marines and Guardia di Finanza (tax police) and excellent young music college graduates.
Fired by the enthusiasm of euphonium star Steven Mead, who has been teaching masterclasses organised by the Saxula Brass Band near Rome for the past ten years, the idea of a Roman/British brass band finally came to fruition during his last visit in 2013.
Conductor Filippo Cangiamila, together with Luciano De Luca, Fausto Bottoni, Roberto Boccacci and Antonio Menegazzo decided to recruit musicians in the city of Rome, and by December last year the Italian Brass Band was formed.
In a very short space of time some of the best Italian professional brass players had already begun rehearsing a demanding repertoire.
A spokesperson for the band told 4BR: "Brass bands have until now never really featured in Italy’s rich musical scene, largely due to the entirely different industrial history of the country.
The lack of the kind of factory and mining community that nurtured the movement in the UK and lack of competition has meant that there are no regional or national brass band associations and, consequently, no competitive events."
Meanwhile, MD Maestro Cangemila described the creation of the Italian Brass Band as little short of a miracle.
"This would not have been possible without the constant support and encouragement of Besson Italia, who have always done their utmost to support and spread the brass band culture in Italy.
There is method in the madness and the miracle of the Italian Brass Band and its friends, and we wish to try and compete in next year’s European Championship in Freiburg."
This would not have been possible without the constant support and encouragement of Besson Italia, who have always done their utmost to support and spread the brass band culture in ItalyConductor Filippo Cangiamila
He added: "That will set a great example for brass players in other Italian cities as we try and build on the success of Messina Brass who competed in 2011 and Wipptal Brass who compete this year in Perth.
Hopefully the list will get longer and longer!"