Italian musician Francesco Magni believes music can build cultural bridges

Francesco Magni came, played and conquered. The Italian musician who was in the city on holiday charmed students and guests of MCBS Kalagramam recently with his music. If some tunes had the audience clapping, others had the audience humming along. The musician began the concert by playing a tune on the harmonica. The music, which began slow, soon picked up pace and became a foot-tapping number. Next came a bhajan to Lord Shiva, in which Francesco, who played the guitar was accompanied by his wife, Gusina, who rendered the chorus ‘Dam, Dam… Damaru Bhaje’. What sounded like an Italian love ballad, was followed by an ode to a little girl in the audience called Angela, which the couple termed ‘Bella’ (beautiful).

An interactive song with the audience was the highlight of the concert as the audience cried ‘Ulli’ (onion) as part of the chorus.

A musician with 10 albums in his kitty, Francesco began his tryst with music when he was four years old. Playing the tune of ‘Oh Susanna’ on his harmonica Francesco pauses and says: “My grandfather Antonio was a musician so I guess music is in my blood. My love for music began at age four. I learnt how to play the harmonica although I really wanted to play the accordion. The guitar was something I picked up on my own when I was 20.”

His music, he says, is “rooted to the soil” as most of them are folk based. It is also a result of ‘hybridisation’ due to confluence of different cultures in his country. “There is a fear of cultural contamination because people are unsure of their culture. I do not fear culture, I fear ignorance. That is why I try to fuse cultures into my work,” he says, citing ‘Nanni’ (thanks) and ‘Ulli’ as examples.

The man who believes music should come from the soul does not believe in ‘complicated tunes.’ “It should flow like a river and touch the listener’s heart, hummable. Music knows no language; how else can people enjoy music from across the globe. ”

Both Francesco and his wife, especially Francesco, have been to India several times. India, they say, is like their second home. The duo loves Kerala for its rich greenery. Although not a professional singer, Gusina says she enjoys joining her husband on stage when he performs. The duo hopes to visit the State again soon.