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Red Bull Music Academy: Rome – “C’era Una Volta A Roma”

Last year was an interesting one in terms of a revelation made by the tirelessly adventurous Mike Patton. Pairing a massive orchestra with a hand-picked band, Patton produced an album (and select-date tour) which recreated Italian pop songs from the past. More specifically,

The project is the result of a decade-long idea which was inspired by Patton’s time spent living in Italy. Engaging himself in the culture and language—oh, also, his wife is Italian—Patton nurtured an appreciation for the country’s music; not modern music however, but rather pop and folk songs from the 1950s and ’60s. As he continued to familiarize himself with the music, Patton began to conceptualize what these same songs would sound like if he were to perform them… with an orchestra. And over the past few years he has done just that, performing numerous times with a band and orchestra while he rips through his Italian lyrics. The release itself finds Patton teamed with a 15-piece band and 40-piece orchestra performing a selection of the very same songs that initially inspired the singer.

The final product was magnificent, and it remains one of my favorites from the entire year.

Certainly, the vast majority of the credit goes to Patton and his crew for creating such an enticing body of music, but it’s the original songs which really speak to the diversity and depth of Italy’s musical history. Long a fan of composer and conductor Ennio Morricone (“Ecstasy of Gold“; “Navajo Joe“; forget about it…), the willingness to take risks that both he and Patton’s sources have exhibited is a trait that would seem deeply embedded in the creative process among many of the country’s artists. It’s with no surprise then that the Red Bull Music Academy’s pending October 4 event in Rome is led by the tantalizing labels “adventurous,” “horrifying” and “sensual.”

Italy can claim credits to some of the greatest and most influential movie soundtracks ever. From spaghetti westerns to psychedelic animations, ‘giallo’ horror flicks to 70s cop films, the music continues to inspire everybody from Quentin Tarantino to Gnarls Barkley to Mike Patton. To celebrate this heritage, composer Massimo Nunzi has transcribed and adapted the movie soundtracks from the original recordings. An outstanding group of musicians, including veterans Dino Piana and Silvano Chimenti as well as their younger counterparts Fabrizio Bosso and Daniele Tittarelli, will super-collide in the Auditorium Parco della Musica concert hall as part of a 52-person orchestra. They’ll perform pieces by seminal composers such as Ennio Morricone, Piero Umiliani and Goblin – with arrangements that nod to the modern day sounds that those masters have influenced, plus breathtaking live visuals by Luca Barcellona and Sean Martin that put a brand new spin on the original cinematic masterpieces.

To listen to a selection of songs which will be featured during the event, and for more details, visit Red Bull Music Academy’s Rome: “C’era Una Volta A Roma” page. As with every World Tour event, admission is free and available on a first-come-first-serve basis (for those of us who don’t live in Italy, which is practically everyone reading this, the Music Academy is documenting each event and offering ongoing coverage here).

For a taste of what’s already gone down on the Red Bull Music Academy World Tour 2011, check out the videos below. Click here to see if the tour is visiting a city near you this fall, and for more information on the 2011 Red Bull Music Academy World Tour please visit SPIN.

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