The ancient musical and dance traditions of southern Italy are resurrected by world-class tambourine player, percussionist, vocalist, dancer and actress Alessandra Belloni and her New York-based band, I Guillari Piazza (Players of the Square). Artists in residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and the Caramoor Museum Center for Music and Art in Ketonah, New York, Belloni and her ensemble have created a series of full-length presentations based on the folk myths and rituals of Italy.
Belloni was instructed, as a child, in the traditional tambourine styles by the elder musicians in her home land and by influential Italian percussionist Alfio Antico. Belloni, whose signature tambourine model is produced by the Remo Drum Company, has been a regular performer at the annual drumming festival in honor of the Black Madonna held in various locations in southern Italy since the early-1980s. As an instructor, Belloni has passed her knowledge of the southern Italian tradition to master world music percussionist Glen Velez, a former member of the Paul Winter Consort. Belloni and Velez have performed a concert-length piece, "Mediterranean Volcano."
Belloni studied acting at H.B. Studios, Mime and Commedia dell'Arte at the Richard Morse Mime Theater and "Mimi Teatro Movimento" under Daro Fo at New York University (N.Y.U.). After serving as artist in residence at New York University for a decade, she formed I Guillari di Piazza with ex-Commedia dell'Arte classical guitarist, John La Barbera, in 1980. The group dresses in authentic garb and plays chitarra battente (Renaissance guitar), classical guitar, oud, mandolin, mandocello, violin, violoncello, flute, piccolo, recorders, oboe, ciaramella, Italian bagpipes, accordion, castanets and tambourine. Their debut at Lincoln Center's prestigious Alice Tully Hall came with their production, "The Dance of The Ancient Spider", in March 1992. During the summer of 1996, the ensemble performed at the World Music festival in Rome.
Belloni's production, "Stabat Mater: Donna Paradiso", which premiered on Easter at the Cathedral of St. John The Divine in 1995, has become a much-anticipated annual event at the New York church. Belloni has displayed her acting skills in the United States and Italy, appearing in such films and theatrical productions as "Next Stop Greenwich Village," "The Godfather, Part II" and "Casanova." ~ Craig Harris