The Montespertoli-based non-profit Prima Materia aims to make music a staple of after-school life both locally and internationally. Headed by British expats Dr. Deborah Parker and husband Henry Brown, the association takes its name from a term in the Italian public school system. An academic subject deemed prima materia is considered to be of utmost importance.
The City of Montespertoli recently granted the association a 20-year bailment of a former primary school for their classes and projects. With instructors specialized in vocals and specific instruments, the courses use both practical and theoretical approaches, and group activities are a critical part of the curriculum. Groups are formed based on age, level and participants’ expectations. In keeping with Prima Materia’s view of music as community expression, the eclectic groups cover a range of genres and ages: classical orchestras (for the young, the elderly or a combination), youth cabarets, voice therapy groups, rock bands, Big Bands, tango groups and jazz ensembles are just a few examples.
With support from the City of Montespertoli, Prima Materia promotes high-level social projects both locally and internationally. The group is working with complementary projects like Banda Senza Frontiere (Band Without Borders) and Music and Resilience, which aims to increase music and music therapy as socio-educational services in Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps. Music is used as an instrument of cultural contact and social integration through Prima Materia’s partnerships with non-profit association ULAIA ArteSud and local group NISCVT (National Institution of Social Care and Vocational Training) ‘Beit Atfal Assumoud.’
On a local level, a performance of the Brecht-Weill play ‘Opera da Tre Soldi,’ or Threepenny Opera, is currently in the works. Bringing together youth, elders and professionals, the project involves over 40 people, including an orchestra of 12 youngsters from ages 14 to 20, and the ‘Coro Resistente’ choir, made up of residents in 10 area nursing homes. Their debut performance will be on August 8 in piazza Machiavelli, as part of Montespertoli’s Amedeo Bassi Festival. A second will take place on August 15 in piazza Bonaparte in San Miniato. Beginning in the fall, there will be various performances throughout the region. Funds are being raised for the project via the Italian crowdfunding platform Produzioni dal Basso. Visit the campaign page for more information or to donate.
Prima Materia is a volunteer-run organization, registered in the CESVOT list, a network of volunteer associations in Tuscany. Some funding will be obtained through annual membership fees (beginning in September), but as their social and international responsibilities grow, so does the need for space. In addition to becoming a member and enrolling in classes, workshops, groups or sessions, private donations can help the cause. Prima Materia promotes the power of music for the young and old at a time when arts programs are often the first to get cut in schools. For more information on the organization and its mission, visit the Prima Materia website or Facebook page.