Friday, 29 June 2012

The man behind the smiling Montelago mask - part 2

(This post continues from its part 1 prequel, which can be read here.)

As significant and unique an undertaking as the Montelago Celtic Festival is, it's but a single bow in Maurizio Serafini's quiver. This is a man of many talents and interests, with a passion and a drive that invariably brings to fruition everything he decides to give a go.

As a performing artist in his own right, he recently launched his fourth group with long-time friend and co-organizer of Montelago, Luciano Monceri. Their first project was (and still is) Ogam, an acoustic group blending sounds and spirit through strings, air, and melodies from cultures spanning the globe. Then followed Mortimer McGrave and Friends, whose Celtic rock continues to be Maurizio's and Luciano's most popular outlet. The most recent musical intiative is The Storm, a band that defies categorization, merging the sounds of the sax with the bagpipe, the harp with the guitar, and the snare with the bongo in a fusion of celtica, jazz, hip-hop, tradition, and a host of other sounds from a diverse range of genres and cultures. The band is named after the 1984 album The Storm by Irish group Moving Hearts, whose piper Davy Spillane Maurizio counts as one of his many influences.

In between the band work, Maurizio and Luciano launched Vincisgrassi, a cabaret-type comedy group named after a type of lasagna particular to the Le Marche town of Macerata where the two of them grew up and went to school together. Performing in the region's dialect, their skits were eventually combined by popular demand into a 2011 film Succo di Marca (The Juice - or Gist - of Le Marche).

Now for most mere mortals, running three bands and a cabaret group, and organizing central Italy's biggest Celtic festival might constitute a rather full - if not overflowing - plate, but for Maurizio it doesn't end there. His early involvement in the Province of Macerata's Terra di Teatri initiative has more recently evolved into a collaboration with the Province of Ascoli Piceno in the form of the Festival dell'Appennino. In its second edition this year, some twenty diverse cultural events take place in the region's most evocative locations. Maurizio is heavily involved in the organization of at least six of them, amongst which was a seven-day Franciscan pilgrimage from Assisi to Ascoli Piceno, and a dramatic production entitled San Giorgio, il drago e i cavalieri del lago (St. George, the Dragon, and the Knights of the Lake), whose candle-lit set lit up Lago di Gerosa near Montemonaco like a fantasy.

These "pastimes", it bears pointing out, are just the main ones - there are others, all with a flavour of exploring and resurrecting culture, history, and tradition.

In his spare time (!!!!!), Maurizio cultivates a lifelong passion for travel, which in the past 20 years or so has taken on a distinct Asian flavour, sparked by a 1991 visit to Myanmar, where his "discovery" of the Bhuddist philosophy ignited a desire to learn more about it. Following this trip, a local event centred around Giuseppe Tucci - a pioneering archaeologist from Macerata who spent many years in the 1920s and 30s studying, teaching, and researching in India, Nepal, and Tibet - prompted further interest on Maurizio's part, and the more he learned the more he became fascinated by this extraordinary individual. In his inimitable way, the fascination turned into a passion, and numerous trips followed to Nepal and Tibet tracing Tucci's steps in the Himalayas. Aside from the Tucci interest, Maurizio has also travelled from Sikkim to Libya, and Pakistan to the Andaman Islands.

All in between organizing the Montelago Celtic Festival, naturally. It begins to make one wonder about what one could be doing instead of taking those afternoon naps, doesn't it? 

What's important to Maurizio in all of this, is to do something of value, but not to hold on to it - once it's done let it go, as Bhuddist philosophy suggests. "Everything is both important and unimportant.When it's finished I go for a walk in the mountains and let it all go. But it's not just about Bhuddism - Christianity too has some aspects that I find interesting. Of course, people play a big role in my life, and for me, everything regarding people revolves around respect - if I respect someone, I can do something with them, but without it, there's not much possibility."

Meeting and spending time with someone like Maurizio is energizing, and it also prompts a bit of introspection, to see if we're doing as much as we could be doing. And isn't that what it's all about?

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