​October 2011




50 Years of CIBPA Bursaries

In 1961 the Canadian-Italian Business and Professional Association (CIBPA) in Montreal was one of the first Italian Canadian organizations to launch a bursary program. Led by Antonio Capobianco, Alfredo Gagliardi and Raffaele Esposito, the first CIBPA bursary program awarded four bursaries for a total of $1000. From these humble beginnings, the CIBPA bursary program has gone on to distribute 2.7 million dollars to 1700 recipients of Italian origin, making it one of the most successful bursary programs in the Italian community in Canada. The 50th anniversary of the CIBPA Bursary Gala will be held on Friday, November 25 at Plaza Volare, Crowne Plaza in Montreal. The evening will commemorate the community pioneers who aspired to reward educational excellence. To make a contribution to the fundraising campaign, contact CIBPA at 514-254 4929 or info@cibpamontreal.com


Source: CIBPA Montreal



Centro Scuola, 40 Years of Community Leadership

Centro Scuola e Cultura Italiana is so well established in Toronto’s Italian Canadian community, that many do not know the simple origins of its many programs and activities. In 1971, motivated by the huge influx of Italian families to Toronto, a group of volunteers organized after-school Italian classes through the Dante Society of Toronto. Among the organizers was Alberto Di Giovanni, at the time still a university student. “It was important to give the children the opportunity to learn the grammar of their family’s mother tongue,” said Di Giovanni recently, speaking at the celebration to mark Centro Scuola’s 40 years. In the mid-1970s, government funding allowed the program to expand. Over time and with determined lobbying efforts, some of the larger school boards in the Toronto area agreed to bring Italian classes into the regular school day in schools where the student population supported it. “The idea of continuing Italian language classes into the secondary school level gave rise to the Summer Credit Courses in Italy, and the first summer classes took place in L’Aquila, Abruzzo, in 1984,” said Di Giovanni, by then Centro Scuola’s director. By 2005, a formal partnership was struck with the York Catholic District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board to offer students the opportunity to live in the Italian cities of Atri, Roseto, or Spoleto from September to December while earning the required credits for their Ontario graduation diploma. Another significant initiative over the past decade was the development of a scholarship and bursary program to encourage young people in the Italian community to pursue their goals in athletics, music, dance, and educational achievement. Gifted young artists have benefited from taking master classes in Toronto and also in Italy. Such an opportunity has helped many Centro Scuola alumnae to gain a foothold in their chosen field.

Source: Caroline Morgan Di Giovanni




Chris Barillaro, Piano e Lontano

That Italian saying, “chi va piano, va sano e va lontano,” easily describes the budding career of Montreal pianist and actor Chris Barillaro. A graduate of McGill University in music and theatre, Barillaro is passionate about both art forms, though piano is his first love and the role he identifies with most. Currently, he plays piano and sings backing vocals in the up-and-coming indie folk band, Lakes of Canada (www.lakesofcanada.com), and recently he appeared on stage in the role of Al the Cutter in the popular Centaur Theatre production of Schwartz’s: The Musical, with the dynamic duo, Bowser and Blue. He was invited by Centaur’s artistic director to participate in two workshop readings and was then invited back for the show. “Schwartz’s was a great experience because it allowed me to perform as an actor and to work as assistant music director within the same show,” says Barillaro. “I got to work with the actors and the production team. I got to know Bowser and Blue. They were funny, easygoing, and they had great musical ideas.” At 24, Barillaro already has an impressive list of acting and musical credits. What’s next for this emerging Canadian talent? His musical arrangements will be heard in New York City in the new production of Slow Dance with a Hot Pick-Up this fall, and he will be appearing on stage in The Play’s the Thing at The Segal Theatre in Montreal in November. “Learn by doing and never limit yourself,” Chris’s likes to say. From the looks of it, he is putting his favourite motto into practice.

​Source: Maria L. Ierfino

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Montreal’s 18th Italian Week Draws Thousands

The 18th annual edition of Montreal’s Italian Week, organized by the National Congress of Italian Canadians, took place from August 5 to 14. Events were organized in various parts of the city, with the climax set in Little Italy on the final weekend. St-Laurent Boulevard was closed to motor vehicles, turning the strip from St-Zotique to Jean-Talon into a pedestrian mall. Visitors turned out by the thousands over the three days to take advantage of the fine weather and pleasant atmosphere. The area was sprinkled with numerous kiosks, including representation from Italy’s regions, retailers, community organizations and, of course, restaurants, which took advantage of the open space by placing extra tables and chairs outside their premises, and creating instant terraces.


Musical entertainment on the final weekend included Angelo Finaldi, Domenico Mancuso, Sarah e Jessica Taddio and Chris Giannini. Once again, the event featured a fashion show which this year displayed the talents of designers Lady Dutch, Lauro & Co, Leonardo Bennotti, Maria Arciero, Moi Bebe Couture, Signor Terry and Aqua Di Lara.


The event culminated with a performance of the opera Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi, performed under the stars, despite the threatening skies. The sky gods were kind, unleashing a torrent with only five minutes remaining in the performance, leaving people scrambling for cover. The performance featured soprano Luisa Kurtz and tenors Giuseppe Varano and Marco Camastra, accompanied by “Orchestra Sinfonica della Settimana Italiana” under the direction of Gianluca Martinenghi.


“This year’s Italian Week would not have been possible without the contribution of a very enthusiastic team of volunteers,” said Antonio Sciascia, president of the National Congress, “as well as the dedication of National Congress Director General Josie Verillo.”




Marisa Portolese, Cultivating Antonia’s Garden

Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice’s adventures in wonderland, is what comes to mind when I think of the work of Montreal photographer, Marisa Portolese (www.marisaportolese.com). The artist, a self-proclaimed insomniac, uses her camera to create images of alternative dream worlds which we are enticed to enter, much like Alice holding up the mirror to read type in reverse or to escape into her fantasy world. Portolese obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree from Concordia University in 2001, majoring in photography and has been teaching photography at Concordia since.


Best known for large-scale colour photographs that juxtapose human figures with landscapes and still-life, Portolese aims to emphasize people’s intimate and often fragile relationship with nature. Women figure prominently in her work and the female psyche is often explored. Women become the creative medium that help us commute between the human and natural worlds.


Portolese’s latest project is Antonia’s Garden, a photography exhibit that explores the artist’s world, the world of her grandmother Antonia in Sardinia and the world of her mother Pina in Montreal. The images in the exhibit entrance the viewer and suggest a detached yet mystical “mother-earth” relationship. It was one of Portolese’s goals to do a portrait of her mother. “I wanted it to be significant,” reflected Marisa. “I spent many years figuring out how to include my mother in my work, and then things happened. My grandmother got sick, we went to Italy to see her and my mother asked me to accompany her.


“I suppose she needed the emotional support. So I brought my camera and started photographing my family. One thing led to another and straight to the idea of mother and motherhood. When the drama unfolded, I began thinking about life, death, and the role of the family matriarch. This is when I began the project of “Antonia’s Garden,” where I explore the emotional issues surrounding the nature of family and the complex relationship between mother and child.” Marisa cultivates the poetic garden of her ancestors and shares the “photographic harvest” with her audience at the Occurrence Gallery in Montreal.


Source: Maria Luisa Ierfino


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