‘Un San Remo in Australia’: community identity and Italian-Australian song festivals

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Date(s) - 11 Apr 2013
9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Burchill Rooms, Performing Arts, Building 68, Monash University


Aline Scott-Maxwell, Monash University

Song festivals have been an ongoing feature of Italian-Australian community musical life since the mid-1960s. Although inspired by the famous annual Sanremo Italian Song Festival, the Australian festivals emerged within the context of a dynamic 1960s Italian-Australian entertainment scene. These competitions for new Italian songs have become a localised tradition and a major platform for the presentation of Italian-Australian composed and performed songs in the canzone popular song tradition. This seminar examines the way that Italian-Australian song festivals have fostered a pan-Italian community identity, while furthering both the cultural interests of the community and the individual objectives of festival organisers, sponsors and participants. In particular, an emphasis on a melodic style of canzone reinforced the festival’s narrative of community, while also representing an expression of the community’s diasporic cultural relationship with Italy as source culture. 

Dr Aline Scott-Maxwell is Lecturer in Ethnomusicology and directs the gamelan ensemble in the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music. Her current research focuses on the music of migration and Australia’s musical engagement with Asia.  She has published on a wide range of topics and was co-general editor and a major contributor to theCurrency Companion to Music and Dance in Australia (2003).  Her most recent publication, ‘Creating Indonesia in Australia: Bridges, Communities and Identities through Music’ will appear in the next issue of the journal Musicology Australia.

Enquiries: Paul Watt