Sunday, May 8, 2011

Italians in DC Festival 2011 is almost here!

This past Friday, CiaoDC caught up with Lorenzo Montanari from Italians in DC to talk about their first ever Italians in DC Festival! Read to find out more about this exciting event.

CiaoDC: You mentioned that the Italians in DC First Ever Contemporary Italy festival is occurring during the city-wide celebration of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. Was this the original spark for organizing the festival, or are there any other reasons behind the celebration?

Lorenzo: Let me start by saying that 2011 is also the year of Italy in Washington, DC and Washingtonians should have the chance to discover and enjoy contemporary Italian pop culture! This is exactly what Italians who live in the Nation’s Capital want to offer to the community by organizing the Italians in DC Festival 2011.

On the occasion of La Dolce DC program promoted by Destination DC and the 150 Anniversary of the Unification of Italy, Italians in DC partnered with the Ronald Reagan Building International Trade Center to offer Washingtonians the first ever festival showcasing contemporary Italian pop culture through music, aperitivo, and arts. The festival will consist of a concert by the Italian music group i-Talians, a DJ performance, a happy hour the Italian way (aperitivo italiano), an arts exhibition, a panel discussion, and an early afternoon program for families. 

Who can we expect to hear speaking on the panel discussion “Italians in Washington, DC today: stories of an ongoing exchange," and what are some topics can we expect to hear during the discussion?

The panel will feature four Italians and will be the defining moment of the entire Festival. They will share very different perspectives about their experience in Washington, DC. This discussion will highlight what they have received from Washington, DC and also how they have contributed to the city. As Italians in DC, we thought that it would be nice to invite Italians that have been successful in their careers in order to share their experiences and to better understand the real value of Washington.

During this panel, moderated by Dr. Giovanna Casagrande (researcher and IDC Chair of “Science and Research”), we will have the pleasure to welcome among our speakers a great entrepreneur, Ezio Mattiace, CEO of Poltrone FRAU in Washington, DC and President of CIIM - Confederation of Italian Entrepreneurs Worldwide, Washington, DC; Diego D’Ambrosio, Owner of "Diego's Hair Saloon", not only one of the most famous Italians in Washington, DC but also the only living Italian recently honored with a renamed neighborhood street (Q Street between 19th St. and Connecticut Ave. NW-Diego D’Ambrosio Way). Moreover, we will listen the witnesses of Chiara Monticelli, member of the Italians in DC team and IDC Chair of “Family Activities”. Chiara is a Teacher of Italian language, at the Italian Culture Society and at the Elementary School in Montgomery County, VA; last but not the least we have Dr.Roberto Weigert an Italian scientist from the National Institute of Health that will explain his experience as scientist in the US in terms of careers and human experiences.

I am really looking forward to the contemporary Italian band. While Italian Opera music has had a rich following here in the U.S., not as many Americans are familiar with contemporary Italian artists.  How would you describe the contemporary Italian music scene? How is the band I-Talians a reflection (or not) of the current Italian music scene?

Historically, Italian pop music sinks its roots in the rich folk tradition of Italy. In the 1960's and '70s American and other world music merged with our historical tradition, giving birth to a successful generation of singer-songwriters - the Italian cantautori. Those songs are still part of the common sound-track of much younger generations. Indeed, the i-Talians draw from that repertoire of classics, which is at once highly enjoyable and representative of today's Italian music scene.

It looks like there will be something for everyone at the festival, including i bambini.  Can you tell us a little about what kinds of activities will be part of the Kids Love Italy event?

Kidz love Italy will be a train with 10-12 stations, each representing a different Italian city. The children, divided into groups, will stop at each station where they will do an activity characteristic of that city. For example in Rome the children will paint the Capella Sistina, or in Venice they will do face painting. In Pompei, they will try to find objects in the sand; However, all children under 8 years old must be accompanied by an adult. 

What part of the festival are you most excited about?

As part of the panel mentioned above, we are excited to present four great emerging Italians artists: Davide Prete, sculptor and architect, Sofia Caligiuri, painter, and Eugonio Agostino & Morgan Marinoni, photographers. All will present the contemporary Italian art from the perspective of three different art mediums. Moreover, we are also excited for our original “Italian Aperitivo” (Happy Hour) with good food and Italian beer and wine surrounded by Italian contemporary pop music performed by the music band the I-Talians.

Finally, can we expect more Contemporary Italian Festivals from Italians in DC?

Yes, this 2011 Festival is the first edition, and if it is successful we really want to make it an annual meeting. A meeting that I consider an important asset not only for the Italians living in Washington but also for Washingtonians. In addition, I personally believe that Washington is a great city, not only for politics, lobbying, and international affairs, (my job sector), but also for science, art, and culture. I have never felt foreign in this beautiful and cosmopolitan Capital; this Festival is an amazing occasion to celebrate and consolidate the relationship between Italians and Washingtonians.

About Italians in DC:
Mission: Italians in DC aims to connect, create meeting opportunities, and assist Italians in Washington, DC, facilitating their integration in the US capital environment. Italians in DC wants to connect people so to add to their personal as well as professional success thereby creating a strong Italian community in Washington, DC.

About Lorenzo Montanari:
Montanari, reggiano , is co-founder and member of the first board of directors of Italians in DC and is in charge of business and public relations with Italian firms in the DC area. Since 2008, Lorenzo has been working in Washington, DC as a political consultant and as a researcher on strategic communication and international lobbying at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University where he obtained a Master’s degree in Political Management. He holds a Bachelor degree in Political Science and a Masters in International Relations from the University Alma Mater Studiorum of Bologna. He worked as a consultant for the FAO and European Union in election monitoring. He is also member of the of the Italian Association of Political Consultant and Public Affairs (AICOP) and member of the International Editorial Board of the Italian Review of Public Communication. He speaks Italian, English and Spanish.

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