A packed September in Prato

A month of music and Tuscan traditions

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July 17, 2017 - 17:04

Ah, September! The season of fresh starts, it has long been among the busiest months in Prato, traditionally a time when laypeople and clerical authorities would come together for festivities surrounding the Madonna della Cintola. The legacy of these celebrations lives on in Settembre | Prato è Spettacolo, a cultural festival organized by Fonderia Cultart in partnership with the City of Prato and main sponsor Esselunga. 



Now in its third edition, the festival will feature more than 100 events spread from August 31 to September 17, touching down in a variety of venues: piazza Duomo, where all the big-ticket concerts take place; Museo del Tessuto; Centro Pecci and its amphitheatre; piazza delle Carceri; piazza Santa Maria in Cestello and, for the first time, the Parco Liberazione e Pace.


Headlining the festival is 29-year-old powerhouse Benjamin Clementine, a Ghanaian-English-French singer and multi-instrumentalist who got his start as a street performer. Clementine’s debut solo album At Least for Now (Universal Music Italia, 2015) earned him the Mercury Prize 2015, recognizing the best new productions by musicians from Ireland and the UK.  The Prato concert (September 4, 9pm) is Clementine’s only performance in Tuscany and will be opened by young Florentine musician Birthh (Alice Bisi), a veteran of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.



Other concerts in the lineup (all set for 9pm) will be given by Italian singer Brunori Sas, performing on his a casa tutto bene tour with opener Tommaso Novi (August 31); Italian alt-rockers Afterhours, inspired by the Velvet Underground, with Luci della Centrale Elettrica, a pop project by Ferrara-born singer Vasco Brondi (September 1); Florentines Litfiba, active since the 1980s (September 2); Sienese indie rockers Baustelle with openers Verdiana Raw (September 3) and a customary performance by the City of Prato’s Chamber Orchestra as the grand free-entry finale (September 5).


This year’s edition coincides with the 25th anniversary of “Maciste Contro Tutti,” a landmark live recording of a concert given by the Consorzio Suonatori Indipendenti during the 1992 Festival delle Colline—a series of Prato area performances that still runs today. A mini-Woodstock for independent Italian music of the era, Maciste Contro Tutti will be commemorated with an exhibition and concert at the Centro Pecci (September 10, 9pm); Francesco Magnelli, Max Collini, Ginevra di Marco and Giorgio Canali are among the artists slated to perform.



The program has more to it than music, however: matches of Prato’s signature (and singular) sport palla grossa—comparable to Florence’s calcio storico—will play out in the former racetrack (preliminaries take place on September 9 and 10, with the final set for September 16). Athletes of the less ruthless persuasion will instead participate in the third edition of the Fluo Run, a 5km night race under the stars, complete with glow sticks, gadgets, street performers and a post-race DJ set  (September 10, 9.30pm).


Little ones will feel at home in the “piazza dei Piccoli”, set up from September 1-10 in piazza Santa Maria in Cestello. In the square’s series of initiatives and workshops—spanning gardening to graffiti, DJ training to fresco painting—there’s something to suit any child’s taste.


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