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VC INTERVIEW | Chantal Balestri - Lunigiana International Music Festival Artistic Director

The Violin Channel recently caught up with Lunigiana International Music Festival Artistic Director, Chantal Balestri.

The Violin Channel recently caught up with Lunigiana International Music Festival Artistic Director, Chantal Balestri - which is set to take place in Lunigiana, Tuscany, Italy from the 23rd of July to the 2nd of August 2020.


Tell us about the Lunigiana International Music Festival. When was it founded and what’s the event’s mission?

"The Lunigiana International Music Festival was founded in 2017 when Andrea Rossi, Tuscan Opera Ensemble conductor and event organizer, and I, New York-based concert pianist and festival promoter, decided to create an international music festival in the region where we both grew up:

The wonderful Lunigiana, or “land of the moon,” in the northern part of Tuscany, Italy.

Since then we've had two missions: to provide young, talented musicians with unique opportunities to be inspired by today’s world-renowned musicians and to act as a point of reference for the cultural life in Lunigiana"


Tell us about the festival structure - and how you managed to move so many events online this year?

"The LIMF welcomes singers, pianists, string players and chamber music groups from all around the world.

They will participate in 10 days of intensive work including masterclasses, seminars, and private lessons with well-known artists from international institutions such as the Metropolitan Opera, the Juilliard School, Zurich Opera House and Hong Kong University.

Every student will have the possibility to perform in stunning locations in two daily concerts - both as a soloist and in chamber music groups with their own professors.

We offer also Italian language courses and two competitions: one for soloists and one for composers.

Multiple winners will get the possibility to perform as a soloist with the Festival orchestra and be engaged in concerts and recording opportunities in Italy, Europe and the USA during the rest of the year.

Thanks to the collaboration of our faculty members and staff, we were able to move all of our activities online and create the ON-SCREEN edition.


We maintained the original dates from July 23rd to August 2nd and simply adapted our activities.

Instead of having private lessons, we instituted webinar masterclasses.

Instead of a solo competition, we decided to broaden this opportunity to every single active applicant.

Activities will be done mainly on ZOOM"


What events are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?

"Building the ON-SCREEN edition was very exciting and we soon realized that the internet offered us unprecedented ways to increase our activities.

We can now include webinars by renowned guest artists, who are usually hard to reach because of their hectic performance schedule.

Each of our guest artists, including pianist Beatrice Rana, singer Michael Fabiano, cellist Kian Soltani and violinist Yury Revich, will share their expertise on a specific topic relevant to each students' career goal.

The complete list of guest artists is available on on www.lunigianamusicfestival.com/limf-2020-on-screen. 

Also, thanks to the collaboration with The Global Leaders Program, we look  forward to welcoming leaders in the music sector who are dedicated to social impact - to guide our students in all the versatile aspects of being a well-rounded musician with the power to deeply change communities"


Where can we see the concerts and performances?

"Italy is finally ready to start its cultural activities, after being one of the most affected countries in the world by COVID-19.

We are lucky to be able to host both online and live concerts.

Lunigiana offers an extensive variety of natural and artistic settings, like caves, churches, gardens, beaches, mountains and the lake.

This year's first concert was on July 5th and we have a total of 7 concerts throughout August 22.

All events feature local artists and LIMF alumni - and are free to the public

For more information, visit www.lunigianamusicfestival.com/concert-season.

Regarding online concerts, they will feature our ON-SCREEN active applicants on Zoom plus a special event hosted by The Violin Channel.

In order to access all events, the general public can apply as an auditor.

The fee is just 10 Euro for one event and 50 Euro for the entire festival"


What initiatives do you have to support students and artists during these unprecedented times?

"Since its founding, the LIMF has focused on helping their students and alumni in their musical endeavors.

While participating in and even after the Festival, we offer scholarships, fellowships, awards and mentoring.

We collaborate with organizations around the world to give students, with economical and bureaucratic difficulties, access to a proper music education.

One example is our student from Eritrea, Benhur Mosazghi. His story is on our website, where you can also find a way to support our activities: www.lunigianamusicfestival.com/support-us

Our main concern in these hard times was to find the best way to support our students from around the world, while being mindful of their difficulties.

We decided to make the whole On-Screen Edition entirely tuition free for active participants!

The application fee of 100 Euro will give them access to next year’s live edition of the Festival, in case they would like to experience Lunigiana in person!"


How important is art in time of COVID?

"At the beginning of the pandemic, our alumni and staff members did this video to share their thoughts and music to our followers from around the world.

It was a very moving moment and our alumni were really enthusiastic to participate in this project: 



If someone would like to partake in this year’s festival, how can they apply?

"Very easy! Interested applicants can go to www.lunigianamusiscfestival.com/limf-2020-on-screen 

We have also a Facebook page www.facebook.com/lunigianamuscifestival.com and an Instagram page @lunigianamusicfestival - where we are reachable 24/7.

Our email is [email protected] and we are here to reply to any questions.

The deadline for the active participant is today, July 15, so interested students should not hesitate to write to us!

For the general public audiences, they can apply anytime before the beginning of the Festival on July 23rd or even during the Festival!"

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