marzo 25, 2008

Pilgrimage to the Eternal City


Pilgrimage to the Eternal City

Gama Harjono ,  Contributor ,  Jakarta   |  Sun, 03/23/2008 3:05 PM  |  Travel

The Eternal City of Rome has been an important city and sacred place since ancient times.

Interestingly, the oldest Roman catholic edifice, the paleo-Christian Pantheon, was originally a pagan temple commissioned to the architect Agrippa by Emperor Adriano in 27 A.C., and only later, in the 7th century, consecrated into a church.

The harmonious circular-shaped edifice now houses the tombs of the kings of Italy, as well as that of Raphael.

The brilliance of Rome's catholic churches continues to awe pilgrims. By tradition, however, there are four significant churches in Rome -- also known as the four patriarchal basilicas -- that are essential to a Catholic pilgrimage.

The basilica of St. John Lateran

Across the Italian capital -- at the opposite end from the Vatican -- is Rome's official cathedral, the West's oldest basilica, the foundation of which was laid by Emperor Constantine I in 324. It was thus the ecclesiastical seat of the bishop of Rome (a role assumed by the Pope) until 1309, before the status was granted to St. Peter's basilica upon the Pope's return from Avignon.

The basilica of St John Lateran, dedicated to Christ (therefore its official name is Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatori, the Arcihbasilica of the Most Holy Savior), ranks as the most important in the peninsula and contains the papal throne.

The basilica's main facade, in a baroque style, is often said to have been designed as that of a royal palace, not of a church. In the square of the same name, the world's tallest existent obelisk stands. The piazza now hosts the First of May concert with some of the biggest names in Italy's music industry partaking in the annual televised show.

The basilica of St. Peter

More than a just a church, St. Peter's basilica is effectively the mightiest (the second largest by area after the basilica of Our Lord of the Peace in the Ivory Coast) catholic structure on the planet.

At the very heart of Christendom, it predominates the tiny territory of the Vatican city while its royal crown dome has been a feature of Rome's skyline since the late 16th century.

Inside the basilica, among the innumerable artworks and underneath Bernini's phenomenally tall baldachin, is what's believed to be the tomb of St. Peter. Another addition, since April 2005, is the tomb of Pope John Paul II.

A feature of the catholic cathedral is the cupola, which is open to visitors to climb up. The dome, which is 135 metres tall, treats visitors to an astounding view over the Eternal City.

One cannot help but admire the sumptuous basilica, which, in spite of the busy traffic in the surroundings, is a holy site for the Church of Rome. It is also believed to be the burial place of St. Peter, the first pope of Christianity, following his crucifixion.

The monumental St. Peter's square embraces visitors with "open arms" as they walk through the pair of elliptical colonnades, ingeniously designed by Bernini. The square also features an Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome in 37 A.D., the only obelisk in Rome that has not been removed from its original position since Imperial times.

The basilica of St. Paul

Owing to its location -- outside Rome's fortified walls -- this basilica may be lesser known. But the story of the UNESCO-listed world heritage basilica is more involved than its location.

In the 4th century, the foundation was laid upon what is believed to the site of St. Paul's martyrdom, a process by the awful means of decapitation.

This church suffered terrible damage due to pillaging and natural causes and was restored and repaired throughout the Middle Ages up to the 19th century. However, a graceful 13th-century cloister survived the years.

Curiously, a sarcophagus was discovered beneath the altar a couple of years back during an archaeological excavation.

The basilica of St. Mary Major

Within a 15-minute stroll of Italy's busiest transportation hub, the station of Termini, sits one of Rome's gems, the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

The basilica's undulating two-tiered baroque facade on one side, and its twin copper cupolas, keep the eye constantly moving.

Peering inside, visitors are awed by a 5th century Byzantine mosaic that recounts stories from the old and new testaments, or alternatively, one can take a tour of the tombs of different popes.

The basilica, dedicated to Mary, was constructed between 432-440 by Pope Sisto III, and since 1377 its belfry has been the tallest in Rome.

The tradition of celebrating the miracle of the snow falling is derived from the legend of Pope Liberio's dream in which the Virgin Mary appeared, only to tell him of snow miraculously falling unseasonably in August. The "Madonna della Neve," during which a cascade of white petals falls from the ceiling of the basilica, is celebrated on Aug. 5.

marzo 18, 2008

Italian Artists in Jakarta - March 2008

Franco d'Andrea in Trio (of his New Quarter)
Concert 10 March 2008
Istituto Italiano di Cultura Jakarta

A New Taste of Italian Jazz

The crowd’s enthusiasm was tangible, unhampered by the evening’s drizzle. The public certainly came to meet, and above all listen to, Franco D’Andrea on a grand piano while he’s in Jakarta.

Franco D’Andrea and his New Quartet came to take part in the Java Jazz Festival (7-9 March). With the support from the Italian Embassy, the Italian Institute hosted another concert on Mar. 10 as a “fitting closing” for the participation of Italian artists in the capital’s biggest jazz gig, said Livia Raponi, the Institute’s Deputy Director.

The auditorium brimmed with dignitaries, foreign diplomats, including the Ambassadors of Italy, the Czech Republic, Greece and Lebanon, and jazz lovers, all eager to experience a taste of Italian jazz.

D’Andrea has a successful career back in his country either as a musician or a music teacher. The award-winning artist is considered a sort of a “legend” for his involvement in the early phase of the Italian jazz history.

Born in Merano (at the extreme Italo-German border) young D’Andrea experienced with trumpet and saxophone in the 60s before turning into piano and performed as a soloist or collaborated in groups.

A poet-musician, D’Andrea has over two hundred compositions, many of which recorded and released in Europe. D’Andrea music is modern jazz with creative interpretation. He warned though that at times it could be difficult to understand his tunes. The veteran musician confessed his penchant for authenticity.

The Italian legend is full of energy and explosive creativeness during his performance. He generally digs in the history of jazz to extract a language that is contemporary and provokingly fresh. D’Andrea loves to express himself with his instrument, attempting to spark creative explosions.

This was his first time in Indonesia though he’s no alien to jazz festivals as he tours them around the world with this band. His view on the Java Jazz was the Indonesian festival has gained an enormous status despite its recent history. Compared to European jazz festivals, “Java Jazz felt fresh”, said D’Andrea.

In his Jakarta tournée, D’Andrea brandished new tracks in his latest album, the Siena Concert, that was released earlier this year. Some of the tracks played were Into the Mystery, Monodic, Fragole, and Slow Five.

To wrap up his solo show, D’Andrea played a medley of classic tunes Lover Man and Caravan.

To everyone’s surprise, there was a second part in the concert: an impromptu trio performance as two of his quartet members joined the stage. Aldo Mella was on contrabass whilst Andrea Ayassot on alto and soprano saxophone.

The energy quickly turned unstoppable. In three, they created a balanced dialog with the audience. There were personal glories sought, no showing off individual virtuosity, instead D’Andrea and his companions complemented one another as a collective sound.

Once again, Franco D’Andrea New Quartet (even sans its drummer, Zeno de Rossi had to leave in the afternoon) delivered their impressionistic yet adventurous sound, giving its Jakarta fans another taste of Italian jazz.


Text by Gama Harjono (email: unmacchiato at ; tel. 0818 072 41 072)
Images courtesy of IIC Jakarta