Canto Antico is certainly one of the most exciting and greatly
followed bands in the great panorama of southern Italian folk music. A well-deserved result of a remarkable work, made of passion, devotion, and authenticity of sound.
The band is composed and produced by southern Italian frame drum player, singer and choreographer Francesca Di Ieso, and accordion player, singer and music director, Armando Illario, also of southern Italy.
Canto Antico started in 2000 in Milan, Italy when the two musicians met in the city of Milan, where they moved to at different moments of their lives.
In those years, Milan presented a competitive music scene. Canto Antico paved the way, and soon captivated the public attention, with the rhythm of southern Italian music.
On a wider scale, many artists of Mediterranean background, soon joined the band, and collaborated to their efforts to expand the southern Italian tradition style of music and dance.
All Canto Antico lyrics belong to the southern Italian oral tradition, passed from generation to generation, by the native men and women of south Italy.
Canto Antico uses instruments exclusively made of tambourines, chitarre battenti, flutes and shawms; its dances and choreography remain true to the tarantella tradition and its many regional and ritualistic facets.
Since its birth, Canto Antico performed in an impressive amount of events and concerts around Italy, Europe and even America, during their 2003 Cuba tour.
Between 2004 and 2005, the band performed and collaborated with notorious artists such as Officina Zoè, Mascarimirì and Nando Citarella.
By that time, Canto Antico members were also promoted as art directors to many folk music festivals and events in Milan, that were intended to promote cultural gatherings. Thanks to Canto Antico, the people of the city, were offered new experiences based on simplicity and human warmth, led by the magic of the sound of southern Italian music.
In 2006, Canto Antico released its first album Jesce ‘a lla distributed by Ethnoworld record company, which received much appreciation from critics and public.
Soon after, Canto Antico began its process of growth and collaboration to maintain the valuable traditional music treasure of southern Italy alive; and, the sound matured into the perceptible Mediterranean arrangements and sophisticated expressivity, now recognized by all as the unique Canto Antico sound.
Between 2006 and 2007, the band participated in major Italian and European folkloristic festivals and won first place at the “Concorso Nazionale di Musica della Val Tidone- categoria folk” (Val Tidone Music National contest- folk category) which was evaluated by international judges.
Canto Antico collaborated with re-known actress Marina De Juli from the Dario Fo (Nobel Prize) and Franca Rame Theatrical Company. On this occasion they participated in the notorious play Ho visto un re (I saw a king), and created a new one known as La storia delle meraviglie del mondo (History of world wonders).
In 2008 Canto Antico, collaborated with the young and exciting band Stygiens, and experimented a new way of doing folk music. It became the birth of a new sound and new tour called Metà strada
The young band plays the music of the Piedmont (Northern Italy) and Occitan traditions, while Canto Antico meets them halfway with the pizzica and tammurriata sound from the southern Italian tradition. The result was a phenomenal mixture of steamy hot sounds with intense enthusiasm.
The tour was a success, and concert requests then became in demand.
All of Canto Antico work and efforts were rewarded when the band won first prize at FOLKONTEST an Italian emerging bands contest, and the most important Italian traditional, folk and ethnic contest of its kind.
In 2009, Canto Antico was honorable guest at the Interceltic Festival of Lorient.
Another important year in the history of the band, was in 2011 when Canto Antico collaborated with Emanuela Gabrieli, in the Terramara project. Emanuela is a traditional singer based in Salento, a southern Italian subregion, who left a remarkable impression with her powerful voice when she participated in the famous Notte della Taranta (Taranta night). Notte della Taranta is the most important night in Italian tradition; and, it attracts thousands people that dance to tarantella until dawn. Therefore, Terramara, is a union of Canto Antico musical direction with a new intense voice: the result is a captivating mixture of modern and ancient sound that interacts with rich emotional atmosphere. As a result of this collaboration, the band was asked to perform in many prestigious stages all over Italy, Belgium, France, Germany and Greece.
It is is only recently when in 2012, Canto Antico music took a deep, different turn into expressionism and its own personalization of sound.
The artists felt a strong need to give a touch of music to the contemporary and metropolitan world they now belong to.
The fast paced city can be alienating, made of noises, speed, shadows, creating many fears. The traditional music extends its branches over it all, and as a magnet it has the power to attract everyone to the sound of its beat.
That’s how the term South Beat was born: A way to find ones’ perfect place within international world music.
In this new adventure South Beat, the volcanic music of tarantella moves from the country to the city only to becomes richer as it breathes through new visions.
The ancient rituals and mesmerizing rhythm of the land blends in with the urban beat, the sound of blues, and the grooving made in Naples black music.
This new sound carries within itself the hang up of independent music, emotional fear and all the uncertainties of contemporary urban society. It emphasizes the need to find ones’ roots that safe place that is naturally found within traditional music.
As a final result, the CD, South Beat was realized in collaboration with many artists: Lorenzo Gasperoni (percussions) Gianantonio Felice (bass), Marcello Lomascolo (voice), and Orchestra di Via Padova.
After its debut at Womex, South Beat (produced by Canto Antico Movimenti) was promptly followed by a new EP called Trad Beat (as of Traditional Beat).
This new adventure sees an exciting collaboration between Canto Antico and Annacinzia Villani, one of the more important singers of Salento, a southern Italian subregion. Trad Beat has been available online since January 2015.