Ischia, an island full of hidden gems. The charm of the landscape, the beauty of the beaches, the value of the spa envied and admired all over the world, alongside another cultural heritage certainly not less important. There are parks and gardens, located in the outskirts of the build up areas, which give richness that cannot be found on other islands.
La Mortella Gardens of William and Susana Walton, in the municipality of Forio and near the beach in San Francisco, are among the most famous botanical paradise of Europe.
Flowers, perfumes, plants from all over the world. A treasure case of beauty snatched hill of Zaro, designed and created by the talent and tenacity of Lady Walton, designed by Russell Page, one of the greatest landscape painters of the XX century, and now, within a few years, even a world centre for acclimatization of various exotic specieswe try to protect especially the soul of these gardens: that one of La Mortella is a soul music.
Sir William Walton, who died in 1983, is considered one of the greatest British composers of the twentieth century. Symphonies, concertos, choral (the monumental “Belshazzar’s Feast”), opera (“Troilus and Cressida”, “The Bear”), and even two gears specially composed for the coronation of British monarchs: “Crown Imperial” for King George VI and the “Orb and Sceptre” for Queen Elizabeth II. The passion for music, often has evolved movies: Sir William Walton is the author of scores for the three Shakespeare films directed and starring by Laurence Olivier: “Henry V”, “Hamlet” and “Richard III”.
The musical vocation could not go down with his disappearance. The concert season, organized annually by the William Walton Foundation and La Mortella is an unmissable event for all music lovers who want to hear young talented people and experience intense emotions in a natural setting which has few equals. To host outdoor concerts of symphonic music it was created a theatre that uses the slope of the hill of Zaro and overlooks harmoniously with the spectacular bay of Forio. Large natural stone walls and rocks surrounding it providing excellent acoustics, while thyme aromatics lining the stone seats, filling the air with their perfume. The Greek theatre, in use during the summer months, can accommodate up to 400 spectators and is surrounded by a forest of oaks and Chinese roses. The program for the summer season 2012 is in the name of versatility: a cappella choirs and symphony orchestras, jazz bands and performances intimately intertwined with the cinema and theatre. Music and arias from Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Puccini and Shostakovich; soundtracks from movies (“Mission”, “Il Postino”, “The Godfather”) composed by the greatest songwriters in film (Nino Rota, Astor Piazzolla, Luis Bacalov, Ennio Morricone); famous pop songs by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Louis Armstrong rearranged in a classic or jazz theme.
The soul music of La Mortella Gardens takes shape not only in live performances. The atmosphere and charm of one of the most beautiful botanical gardens of Europe have become a music disk released worldwide two years ago with a clear title: “The creatures in the garden of Lady Walton” (“Le creature nel giardino di Lady Walton”). A gem made by a restless band “indie” like Clogs, where the immediacy of folk and the refinement of a “classical” blend with astonishing mystery and balance. The natural heart of the project (received by U.S. critics as a masterpiece) belongs to the Australian artist Padma Newsome. He is who comes in Ischia in 2005 thanks to a grant offered jointly by Harvard University and the William Walton Trust. Newsome visits La Mortella Gardens and was bewitched. One is seduced by the variety of diverse flora and fauna, even writes some text with words in Italian and builds around these memories a kaleidoscope of sound that mixes rugged structures with moments of melancholy beauty, imaginative echoes of music by Nick Drake (emerged from a purely pastoral dimension) with bucolic hypnosis to which it is a must surrender to the darkness and with closed eyes. The song and the verses are facing due to the participation of “regular” singers: Shara Warden, Matt Berninger of the National (one of the most influential rock bands of the decade) and especially Sufjan Stevens, beloved minstrel in the States of “Illinois”.
From the mirror of nature portrayed in pictorial key even on the cover, comes a concept album dedicated to La Mortella. Ten water colours sound symbolizing the quest for harmony by man and transform the garden into compelling metaphor for artistic creation. Everyone listening to this record, can think on his hidden and invisible garden, a garden where, between classical sound, choral and modern feeling of suspended time, the game comes to life dreams of a mysterious and invincible nature.
di Gianluca Castagna