Enjoy Fun and Beauty of Italy At 32nd ‘Festa’ in San Jose

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The Italian American Heritage Foundation

Italian culture and local history will convene in an eventful weekend long celebration at the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens beginning Saturday, August 25 and continuing through Sunday, August 26.

The Italian American Heritage Foundation of San Jose is delighted to bring back the fun and beauty of Italy to the lovely Guadalupe River Park and Gardens for the 32nd Festa, “The Festa was such a success last year, attracting people from all over the Bay Area. The promoters hope to make the 2012 event even bigger and the best to date.

Both Saturday and Sunday will feature authentic Italian foods, a great variety of continuous music entertainment, arts and crafts, delicious Italian cuisine, wine garden, culinary demonstrations and an extensive historical photo display of the local Italian American community. Activities will also include a grape-stomping contest, children’s games and Marionette show, a bocce ball competition and much more. The opening ceremony takes place at the Roma Stage and is hosted by Ken Borelli, President of the IAHF.

I’m very pleased to say that Alfio has kindly agreed to take time from his very busy schedule to give me this interview . Grazie e benvenuti a voi, Alfio.

Cookie: Alfio, every time I interview an italian tenor and i ask where they first started singing, they always tell me that it was in church. Would that be your answer as well, or do you have a different answer to share with us?

Alfio: If singing on an old stump of an Australian Gum Tree at age 7 is not counted, then I have to say that my first public performance was at Church. I used to lead the whole congregation in song, along with my electronic keyboard which had a Cathedral organ sound that filled the church like a real Cathedral, ladies would come up to me and tell me that they only came to church to hear me sing… I didn’t know wether to feel guilty or happy!!

Cookie: Alfio were you born in Australia? Do you know what part of Italy your family originated from?

Alfio: I like to say that I was ‘made in Australia’ with the best imported Italian ingredients!! My father is from Catania and my mother is from Reggio Calabria.

Cookie: Musical talent is usually inherited, are your parents musically talented, or do you have any siblings that share your talent for music?

Alfio: I am the youngest of five children and we all play something and or sing, family gatherings are always a musical affair, it really ties our family together in a very special way to be able to interact in that wonderful musical way… che nostalgia!

Cookie: Alfio, todays recording stars have a tougher road to success than their predecessors. Even a voice as great as Sinatra or Bocelli would have it harder in todays market. Radios and records are a thing of the past. It’s a whole new way of listening today, there is no top ten, no radio disk jockey to push your songs. What then is your new approach to getting yourself heard and seen by your fans.

Alfio: Its all about adapting with the times and doing the things that you need to do to get to your audience, even major recording labels have felt the pinch and have been forced to adapt. The use of social network forums like ‘facebook’ have become so important over the past few years, I don’t know of any artist who doesn’t have a ‘facebook’ page these days.

Cookie: Today, the video plays an important part in the selling of a song, or CD album.I’ve heard fans say they bought the CD because they loved the video so much. Do you think the right or wrong video could make or break a song? That a singers talent just isn’t enough these days?

Alfio: Music appeals to only one of your senses while a music video appeals through both sight and sound, so naturally a good video is always going to compliment a good song .. there may be an element of images compensating or perhaps distracting the listener, but both the music and video need to go hand in hand.

Cookie: I’ve recently seen a short promotional video featuring you behind a white baby grand piano. Was that you playing so beautifully and if so, at what age did you become inerested in the piano and what other instruments do you play? >

Alfio: Yes I do play the piano and guitar, the two most beautiful instruments for solo performances, I started playing the organ at a very young age and wrote my first song for my girlfriend at the time at age 18.

Cookie: I can’t help but notice that the todays musical video is like a short movie film. It tells a story to the music fan. Could you tell us some of the work that goes into making a musical video. It obviously takes a lot of people and a lot of time to put all these songs , music, and art together,not to mention the cost involved.

Alfio: A lot of work goes into the making of a video, the liaising between the producers ideas and what the artist likes and doesn’t like can see a storyboard be changed many times before shooting actually begins, its all very exciting, I actually have a behind the scenes video on my website www.alfiomusic.com which shows some of the action behind the action. check it out!

Cookie: The Italian readers of this newspaper will be thrilled to know that you are about to release an all new, all Italian songs, CD. When will we be able to purchase this wonderfully Italian CD, what is the title, and what are some of the Italian songs that will be included in it?

Alfio: Yes I am thrilled to announce that ‘tutta Italiana’ was released on March 1st 2011, you can order the album other classics I included are Chitarra Romana, Mamma, Dicitencello Vuie (Just say I love her) and O Surdato ‘Nnammurato. I also included some of my original songs which have gained world acclaim, ‘Il Nostro Sogno’ has recently been recorded by two other artists, ‘Riaan Hunter’ in South Africa and a trio group in Canada called ‘Trois’, this makes me very very happy. It was an amazing experience to hear one of my songs recorded in Afrikaans, it makes me want to keep writing more and more songs for the world. it just proves that music is an International language.

Cookie: Your Calfornia fans are so happy to know they can seen you soon at the San Jose Italian festa.

Alfio: Californians have a place in my heart, they are warm, easy going and lovely people and I really enjoyed performing there in the past, fans can check the website or join the mailing list to be the first to know about upcoming shows and other exciting news.

Cookie: One of my routine questions at the end of my interviews with Italian singers is to ask what their favorite Italian food is….and if they know how to prepare it. So, Alfio, what is your favorite Italian food and can you prepare it yourself…. if you had to?

Alfio: I love cooking and I make a great Ragu sauce !! it’s interesting that you ask this question… last night I sat down at the table with my head buried in a bowel of Spaghetti, fork spinning crazily, sauce splashing all over the place and I was thinking of how the tastes that tickled my taste buds, gave me a sense of warmth and nostalgia as I ate the wonderful plate of pasta… tastes, smells, music and passion never dies, I was thinking of how my children one day would experience the same wonderful plate of pasta that my grandparents would make, this is how we keep our tradition alive, as strong as the very blood that runs through our veins.

Cookie: Grazie tanto” Alfio, for taking the time to share with us and to answer my questions and for making this a very delightful interview. Hope to be seeing and hearing you very soon at the San Jose ,IAHF Festa in San Jose’s thriving Little Italy.

Alfio: Thanks cookie and I’ll be out there soon so we can enjoy music and great food together. All the best to my fans and thanks for reading. Yours in music, ALFIO

Cookie Curci is an experienced freelance writer, born and raised in San Jose, California. Cookie writes syndicated columns across the country, and wrote a “Remember When” column for The Willow Glen Resident for 15 years. Her work has been published in 15 Chicken Soup for The Soul books, and in the series of “Mother’s Miracle” books ( Morrow books).

She has a short story in the new book “ELVIS”, Live at the Sahara Tahoe; has been published in San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury news, Woman’s World, Primo magazine, Mature Living, and many websites.

Cookie is currently writing for several Italian American newspapers and magazines, they include LaVoce Las Vegas, Amici Journal, L’italo Americano, Life in Italy and Italiansrus.