La notte della Taranta, with more than 300.000 spectators every year, is one of the biggest folk music festivals in Europe. It aims to promote salentine traditional folk music and to give it new life through fusion with other musical styles, such as jazz, rock, and symphony music. The most powerful expression of salentine traditional music is “pizzica”, a passionate fast-tempo music accompanied by a powerful dance. Thank to this festival, pizzica is now known everywhere in Italy and is becoming increasingly popular abroad.
The Festival was founded in 1998, as a much smaller festival. Now it consists of 15 concerts held in 15 different towns and reaches its climax with the Final Concert in Melpignano. Dates of concerts change every year, but the Festival usually takes place between the 1st and 30th of August.
The concerts before the Final Concert are with smaller audiences and they usually feature one or two local groups, and a guest group performing other musical styles. The Final Concert, with about 130.000 spectators, is the biggest event of the Festival has now become a big media event, broadcasted live on national TV (in 2013 the broadcast channel was Cielo).
The uniqueness of the Final Concert is its Popular Orchestra: 30 musicians coming from different musical groups of Salento, playing all together. A different artistic director conduces the Orchestra every year, giving traditional music new life with fresh interpretations and collaborations with international artists. The role of artistic director has been filled by internationally renowned musicians such as Stewart Copeland from The Police, the pianist Ludovico Einaudi, the singer and musician Mauro Pagani, the Bosnian composer Goran Bregovic.
If you are interested in music but you are scared of big crowds, we suggest you go to Melpignano the night before the Final Concert: you will listen, with “only” some thousands of people, to the general rehearsal and have the chance to talk with artists.