Dear friends and supporters around the world,
I am so grateful for your ongoing support over the past 43 years of beautiful artistic and educational projects with I Giullari di Piazza. As you know, most of my work is in devotion to the Black Madonna in all her manifestations around the world with a focus on Southern Italy, and to the healing tradition of the ancient tarantella. I have been exploring these traditions and practices in performance and workshop settings for many years.
I am proud to share that received a wonderful important award from the Italian Charities of America, the Renaissance Award, for my lifetime dedication to the studies, research , performances and teaching of the authentic southern Italian folk traditions music dance and theater. Thanks you the Italian Charities of America for honoring me at their 87 annual gala!
As this work grows in scope and more people find their way to the Black Madonna, I have joined with my nonprofit and board members to create THE CENTER FOR THE BLACK MADONNA. This is an educational space (both in-person and virtual) that honors the Black Madonna and the ancestral lineages of Southern Italy by teaching, performing and reviving interest in these ritual and artistic traditions. Our primary audience is global Italians and their descendants, but the Black Madonna is a global presence and the Center treats her as such. We offer online lectures and live sessions featuring members of our ensemble, I Giullari Di Piazza, as well as intensive workshop/pilgrimage retreats in Southern Italy.
This is my life’s work, but I can no longer do it alone. Nor can I solely rely on volunteer help or my nonprofit board.
I am also facing a personal challenge as I am going for knee replacement surgery December 21, and will need time to recover.
As many artists, I count on the support of my audience and fans and artistic activities which I will resume in Mid February.
To put it simply, we are currently in a financial crisis and need the support of our fans and friends to continue with our mission and keep presenting these unique and powerful programs in the United States and Italy.
We are now planning our annual holiday fundraiser on December 17 at 5 pm in a wonderful restaurant in the heart of Little Italy. Join us at LUNELLA, 173 Mulberry Street, for a concert performance and special recognition of some of our greatest supporters.This is my life’s work, but I can no longer do it alone. Nor can I solely rely on volunteer help or my nonprofit board.
We will also be honoring prominent people who support Italian Culture in their work, volunteer efforts and art. This year we honor Tony and Obie award-winning producing artist and formerly Artistic/Executive Director of Cherry Lane Theatre Angelina Fiordellisi, Award winning actor Saverio Guerra, Director & Cinematographer Lisa Leone, and Award-Winning Author, Therapist & CEO Alex Iantaffi.
If you would like to attend, you can buy tickets for the in-person fundraiser here: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/igiullaridipiazza/1043310
We will present a special performance featuring excerpts from the production: “TARANTATA & THE BLACK MADONNA South Italian Tarantella trance dances, ritual drumming and healing chants for the Black Madonna, and I Giullari’s favorite upbeat repertoire. The proceeds will go to our non-profit organization
We will feature our core members:
Alessandra Belloni - Artistic Director, Percussions and Vocals
John La Barbera - Music Director, Composer, Guitar, Mandolin, Chitarra Battente
Wilson Montuori - Guitar
Joe Deninzon - Violin
Steve Gorn - Bansuri Flutes, Saxophones, Clarinet
Dancers - Amara & Peter De Geronimo
Mark Mindek - Stilt Dancer
In the past few years, we honored wonderful people as esteemed actor Armand Assante and in 2019 we honored award winning actress Marisa Tomei. Both Marisa Tomei and Armand Assante are big supporters of my work and believe in our mission.
They were events to remember, with Italian food, and wine, and we hope that you will be able to attend the next one or support us with a tax deductible donation through this fundraiser.
The Voyage of the Black Madonna promo for a documentary film by Alessandra Belloni
WHO WE ARE & PAST ACHIEVEMENTS
I co-founded I Giullari di Piazza in the beginning of 1980, together with guitarist/composer John La Barbera, and we began our artistic career at New York University where we were artists in residence for 10 years. Over the years, and with your support, we have accomplished many things, including becoming artists in residence at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and performing at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Symphony Space. We have never stopped exploring and performing, and this past year alone, we have accomplished many goals.
• We created THE CENTER FOR THE BLACK MADONNA. An online and in-person educational space to honor the ancestral lineages of Southern Italy, centering on the devotion to the Black Madonna that still thrives there, by teaching, performing, and reviving interest in studying the musical traditions of these regions, mainly for global Italians and their descendants. We offer online lectures and live sessions featuring members of our group I Giullari Di Piazza as well as intensive retreats in Southern Italy.
• I was featured in the documentary series DREAM OF ITALY, filmed for PBS in the south of Italy. We filmed an episode based on my book, which was dedicated to two important Black Madonnas, the Madonna della Libera and Madonna di Montevergine, in the region of Campania. Produced by Kathy McCabe, the series also features Academy Award-winning actress Marisa Tomei and will be aired on PBS in January 2024.
• Together with director and editor Francesco Piccolo, we filmed a new short documentary during my 2023 Pilgrimage to the Black Madonna and Summer Solstice Celebration, which will be screened at NYU’s Casa Italiana on December 13th. The screening will feature live Sicilian folk music by I Giullari di Piazza, and a guest appearance by Sicilian ensemble SudCantica via Zoom. Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzblYEO1pjQ
• We performed a new concert, Sacred Drumming for Seven Black Madonnas, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on May 11, 2023, and it was a great success. This new production features ritual drumming and dance in a full immersion into the ancient traditions of the Black Madonna in the region of Campania, with excursions into Calabria and Sicily, ending with the Afro-Brazilian rituals of the Orishas.
• Our Summer Intensive educational pilgrimages to Campania and Sicily continued in 2023, transporting participants to a time and place where an unbroken and ancient tradition continues today with folk music, processions, devotional drumming, and dance, visiting the sacred sites of the Black Madonna. After the success from last summer, we plan to offer more programs in 2024, including a new location in Calabria!
WHY WE NEED FUNDING
• Present and produce new live performances
• Create and preserve online courses and ongoing classes for 2 to 6 artists
• Pay adequate artists' fees, technical crew, and administration costs for a cast of 3 to 12 artists
• Hire professional marketing and public relations personnel for a range of projects.
• Hire administrative personnel
• Hire professional marketing and public relations personnel for the projects to take place at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, NYU Casa Italiana, & the Italian American Museum.
Our goal is to raise at least $5,000 by December 31st of this year.
If you are considering a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year, this is your opportunity to keep Southern Italian folkloric traditions alive!
WHAT WE ARE PLANNING
Our vision is to spread and keep alive these healing & folkloric traditions from Southern Italy as far and wide as we can, both live and online. This also follows the vision of our newly reformed board of directors.
We continue to do amazing work, but we need funding to continue performing and teaching online and in person through the end of 2023 and into 2024:
Performances also planned at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in the Spring 2024.
We are planning the Intensives in Southern Italy Summer 2024:
Black Madonna Pilgrimae and Summer Solstice Celerbation in Sicily June 19 to June 30 2024
Black Madonna PIlgrimage and ritual drumming workshops in Campania July 31 to August 8th
We are currently working on creating a home base in New York while offering on-site and/or virtual field trips to specific historical and spiritual sites. Our goal is to launch the First Southern Italian Musical Folkloric Institute as part of the Black Madonna Center,led by Internationally Renowned Singer, Percussionist, Teacher, and Author Alessandra Belloni & Co-Founder and Director John La Barbera.
The school will offer the following distinct training curriculums:
1. The Black Madonna & The Tarantella Healing Music of Southern Italy: The initial deep dive into the teachings of the Southern Italian musical and dance traditions of the Black Madonna and the Tarantella or Taranta in specific regions: Campania, Calabria, Sicily, Puglia. (see example trip planned July 31 to August 8)
2. The Black Madonna & The Tarantella Healing Music of Southern Italy Teacher Training: A more intensive teacher training allowing the students to share the legacy of Alessandra’s work and passion. Students must meet all pre-requisite trainings and studies prior to being accepted to the teacher training.
WHAT YOUR DONATION WILL FUND
Your tax-deductible contribution will enable us to keep hiring great teachers and artists as well as to have some much needed administrative support!
WHO ARE THE TEACHERS AND ARTISTS INVOLVED
Company Based Teachers and Collaborators
● Alessandra Belloni - Artistic Director - president of the non-profit
● John la Barbera - Co-Founder, Musical Director, composer, and guitarist.
● Francesca Silvano - Dancer
● Joe Deninzon - Violinist, Composer, and Arranger
● Peter de Geronimo – Dancer
● Amara – Dancer
ADMINISTRATION ASSISTANTS: Fabina Eramo, Davide Josia, Mara Gerety, Tia Taymar, Mark MIndek
US-Based Teachers and Authors
● Dr. Rev. Matthew Fox - Best-Selling Author, Creation Spirituality, https://www.matthewfox.org/
● Father Phil Harmon - Educator, Orthodox Monsignor, Founder/Director of the Kahumana Retreat & Steiner Center, Hawaii
Italy-Based Teachers and Authors
● Nando Citarella, internationally renowned singer, percussionist, teacher from Naples
Sicilian musicians from the group SUDCANTICA
We hope you can help I Giullari di Piazza continue to present these powerful musical productions and presentations.
If you need a tax deduction before the need of the year this is a good cause! Donate today and ask others to do so as well. Thank you!
MADONNA DELLA GRAZIA – Traditional devotional Tarantella in Honor of our Lady of Grace from Region of Campania filmed at the Cathedral of St John the Divine
Updates and accomplishments:
• My book Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna published by Inner Traditions-Bear & Company is still doing very well and has also been published in French by a great publisher, Le Duc. Available on Amazon
• We also launched several online courses with the online platform Teachable. Our debut course, The Voyage of the Black Madonna, is available alongside my new online Beginners Frame drum and Chants series.
As always, I appreciate your support!
If you donate by November 30th, we would love to honor your contribution in the program for the Tarantata & Fundraiser Dinner in NYC:
● $100: you will receive your name on the program
● $150: my book Rhythm is the Cure and your name on the program
● $200: My Book Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna - your name on the program
● $250 Both my books & your name on the program
● $500 – SPECIAL download of my Virtual Pilgrimage to the Black Madonna, your name on the program
Blessings on all our journeys,
TAMMORRIATA (traditional ritual drumming for the Black Madonna from Campania)