The sounds, colours and scents of the Edible Orchestra: bearers of a profound message
A series of concerts, live performances and book presentations dedicated to food and its role not only as food but as a tool for socialising and creativity and an essential commodity for the well-being and economy of a community that can influence environmental equilibrium and stimulate social responsibility. Edible Orchestra offered a programme of innovative activities aimed at spreading these principles which, with the involvement of Italian and European artists, has seen the active participation of citizens.
The initial choice of venue for these events was the fruit and vegetable market, a meeting place and symbol of spontaneous gathering where it is possible to choose and express stances and which lent itself well to the message to be disseminated. The not too favourable climate did not stop the activities but unfortunately meant that they were transferred between the nearby Community Centre of Matera 2019 and the Gervasio auditorium.
On 9 and 10 April, the food designer Nick Difino led dozens of cultural inhabitants and temporary citizens in the preparatory workshops for the performance on Thursday of Les Tableaux Mangeants, an installation consisting of edible elements where food transcends the plate and becomes a palette of colours with which to experiment and seduce. Three days in which we went from talking about foods from memory and tradition to a shared selection of dishes to be cooked, from a lesson in the history of art to sharing the essential notions behind the choice of dishes that responded at the same time to both sentiment and the aesthetics of the work.
Before the artist's performance, there was a presentation of the book by Federico Valicenti Dalla tavola lucana al paradiso, a reading to be decanted like a fine wine. The Basilicata-born chef spoke to us about food as a metaphor for life and sharing because at the table you must be in good company to truly understand the essence of the dishes.
On 12 April the presentation/performance format was repeated with the journalist Stefano Liberti who in the afternoon transported us to the world of large-scale distribution with the book written together with his colleague Fabio Ciconte 'Il grande carrello. Chi decide cosa mangiamo'. At 20.00, Daniele De Michele as his alter-ego Don Pasta presented UNITED FOOD OF MATERA, an original multimedia performance based on the testimonies of eight citizens of Matera and their authentic relationship with food and cooking followed by a 'Cooking DJ Set': vinyl and pots, mixers and blender for a spicy DJ set of sounds from the whole world, including funk, reggae, South American and Mestizo London. A performance where you give yourself over to the excitement of food, its aromas, colours and forms.
On the final evening of Saturday 13 April, the headline event, a concert from the Vegetable Orchestra, was the first of its kind in the world. The distinctive feature of the Viennese ensemble is to perform only with musical instruments made from fresh fruit and vegetables, which for Matera 2019 were created together with temporary citizens.
Aided by drills, knives and screwdrivers, musicians and citizens have turned carrots into flutes or xylophones, leeks into violins and radishes into saxophones. For the concert in Matera an exceptional vegetable, the Crusco pepper, was used to introduce an original version of Stravinsky’s 'Le sacre du printemps', renamed by the orchestra as 'Le Massacre du printemps'.
The mix of sounds produced by vegetable instruments create an unusual and extremely rich universe of acoustics (not to mention the aromas that flood the environment) that could not be achieved with traditional instruments. And the effect is surprising from the very first notes.
Here are a few figures on the vegetables used: 30 aubergines, 5 cucumbers, 3 kg of dried beans, 170 carrots of different sizes, 2 cabbages, 10 Savoy cabbages, 3 large pumpkins, 20 leeks, 5 bunches of parsley, 5 bunches of spring onions, 25 white radishes, 3 bunches of salad greens, 8 celeriac, not to mention a number of large red, yellow and green peppers, onions, potatoes and courgettes.
At the end of the concert, which lasted about an hour, the audience gave a standing ovation not only for the Vegetable Orchestra that has been performing all over the world for 20 years, but also, and above all, for their message: the products of nature are indispensable for the community and must be defended at all costs.
The vegetables were provided for this occasion by Coldiretti Basilicata and, after the performance, they were donated to Don Angelo, pastor of the Church of San Rocco, to make a large soup to feed the poorest members of the parish.