“Zegna and Music” is not just the title of a charity project launched by Ermenegildo Zegna Group in 1997 to promote the values of this art in Italy and the rest of the world. It also reflects a vision of music that recognizes the art as a universal idiom capable of conveying powerful messages of peace in every corner of the globe. One of the many musicians with whom the Zegna family has built up solid relationships over the years is Gianandrea Noseda, an internationally renowned conductor who is currently music director at the Teatro Regio in Turin and art director of the Stresa Festival. Their relationship is based on the sharing of a dual mission: to innovate tradition and aspire to excellence. Always. We asked him to tell us about the importance of synergy with Fondazione Zegna for the promotion of Italian culture abroad and the guaranteeing of new vitality for opera and symphony foundations in Italy. How did your collaboration with Fondazione Zegna start? What are the values underpinning the “Zegna and Music” project? Our collaboration goes back nearly ten years now, to when I was principal guest conductor at the Mariinskij Theater in St. Petersburg, with which Ermenegildo Zegna was already on extremely friendly terms. It grew over the years through some splendid initiatives involving organizations I work with, from the Stresa Festival to the Teatro Regio in Turin. There are two basic values that we share, the first being a constant commitment to innovation within the sphere of our tradition, which we don’t see as a limitation or “cage” but as the roots that enable our tree to grow and blossom. Then we share an insistence on achieving the highest possible quality. I’ve always been driven by this in my work, as have the Zegnas throughout their long history. How important is it for a musician to be constantly aiming at excellence? In practice, excellence is what an artist must naturally tend towards. If a performance isn’t in some way excellent, it isn’t much of a performance. It’s as simple as that. I would also add that this commitment, this constant focus on detail, helps us improve as people and leaders in an artistic collaboration which is a great pleasure for us to be part of. The partnership between Fondazione Zegna and Teatro Regio di Torino aims to promote the values and standards of excellence in music. What sort of message can this art convey with its universal language? The partnership between Fondazione Zegna and the Teatro Regio isn’t important simply because of the values it embodies but also because musical culture and the design of clothing are both fields in which Italy excels. Combining these two potent realities is bound to be reciprocally stimulating and strengthen international perception of the value of so-called Italianity. It’s also worth noting that both music and fashion are able to reach the hearts of everyone, above and beyond any sort of cultural barrier, because they don’t use spoken language. So it’s not so surprising that fashion and music are among the most successful Italian exports: the works of Italian composers are a predominant presence in theater programs all over the world, just as Italian fashion products are to be found in all the most sophisticated stores. In difficult times like our own, how important is the support guaranteed by Fondazione Zegna for the Theater in its role as an ambassador of Italian excellence in Italy and abroad? It’s extremely important to create synergy. Fondazione Zegna’s support gives us an extra reserve of courage and determination to travel the world with pride and carry with us the best our country can produce, a musical repertory handed down to us by the great names of the past and which we are responsible for perpetuating as well as we can. At the moment I’m in Tokyo with the Teatro Regio’s musicians to perform for the Japanese public two jewels of Italian opera like Giuseppe Verdi’s “Ballo in maschera” and Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca”. This is a concrete example of how the Teatro Regio di Torino is able, partly thanks to support from Fondazione Zegna, to promote Italian culture abroad. Part-funding for the hiring of the winner of the Teatro Regio’s 1st viola competition is a totally new formula in Italy, though common in the English speaking world. How important is it to integrate tradition and contemporary developments and at the same time foster interaction between culturally different experiences? Fondazione Zegna’s decision to help fund the hiring of a new 1st viola for the Teatro Regio – the highly talented Enrico Carraro (27) – is absolutely revolutionary in Italy, whereas in the English-speaking world this sort of ad hoc funding is a very common and highly effective way to improve the quality of orchestras. I hope Fondazione Zegna’s pilot project will encourage other companies and organizations to follow suit. It ought to stimulate the world of opera and symphony groups in Italy and help create a virtuous circle. And being such a personalized sort of relationship, all the parties involved have a heightened sense of responsibility towards the project’s aims. The “Zegna Concert Suit” shows that fashion and music together can generate a certain “alchemy”. Does your experience bear this out? It’s in line with my conception of music, I’d say. It combines flexibility and structural resilience, focus on detail and the capacity to improvise. It’s elegant, light and also “performance-resistant”. Brilliant in a word: it moves perfectly with my movements (which can be really violent at times) without ever losing its elegance of cut. Another thing I find fascinating is the technology behind the fabrics used in the Concert Suit. It was a formidable challenge to produce a material that’s suitably elastic and breathable (I sweat massively during a performance) without losing shape! Find out more about the Teatro Regio di Torino project © Photo: Giovanni Caccamo
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