"La Notte della Taranta" is Italy's biggest music festival and one of Europe's most important events dedicated to traditional culture. It takes place in Salento and is dedicated to the re-discovery and valorisation of Salento's folk music and its fusion with other types of music – from world music to rock, from jazz to classical music.
Born in 1998 by initiative of the "Unione dei Comuni della Grecìa Salentina" and the "Diego Carpitella" Institute, in fifteen years the festival has enjoyed tremendous growth in size, audience and international prestige. There have been several key milestones in its development: in 2000 the "Festival Itinerante" was started, a collective of the most representative groups of the "pizzica salentina" scene which today covers fifteen towns (those belonging to the "Unione dei Comuni della Grecìa Salentina" plus Lecce, Galatine, Alessano and Cursi), attracts nearly 200.000 spectators and prepares the "Concertone", the highlight of the Festival; in 2004 the "La Notte della Taranta" Popular Orchestra was created thanks to Ambrogio Sparagna, an eclectic cultural (folk) band active throughout the year in Italy and abroad; and from 2010 onwards, the "La Notte della Taranta" Foundation became responsible for the organisation of the Festival.
The Festival's formula, which culminates in the "Final Concertone di Melpignano" (Lecce), is made unique by inviting a "Maestro Concertatore" to arrange and interpret classics from the local musical tradition, directing a group of nearly thirty musicians from Salento together with exceptional guests from Italy and abroad. The "Concertone" alone attracts around one-hundred and fifty thousand spectators, while tens of thousands follow the final rehearsals the day before.
The following "Maestri Concertatori" have contributed to the impressive growth of the "La Notte della Taranta" in the first fifteen years of the Festival, often continuing their collaboration with the Popular Orchestra in special occasions in Italy and abroad: Daniele Sepe (1998), Piero Milesi (1999 e 2001), Joe Zawinul (2000),Vittorio Cosma (2002), Stewart Copeland (2003), Ambrogio Sparagna (2004, 2005, 2006), Mauro Pagani (2007, 2008, 2009), Ludovico Einaudi (2010, 2011), Goran Bregovic (2012), and Giovanni Sollima (2013-2014), Phil Manzanera (2015), Carmen Consoli (2015)
This year, La Notte della Taranta is dedicated to Sergio Torsello, former artistic director of La Notte della Taranta who passed away last March.