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Italian treat

George Emile Irani is Associate Professor in International Relations at the American University of Kuwait    — Editor

By George Emile Irani

Recently, Kuwait was in for a big treat. The famous Italian chamber orchestra group I Solisti Veneti was in town performing at the Kuwait National Museum. Since I came to this small and lovely Gulf country I have never experienced such an inspiring and enchanting musical event.

I Solisti Veneti were created in 1959 by Maestro Caludio Scimone in 1959. Members of this orchestra are all veteran players of Baroque music among other genres. They performed in more than 80 countries and their discography includes over 350 on LP, CD and DVD editions.

In this era of mind numbing noises and instant communication listening to the Solisti for almost two hours was akin to a religious experience. Despite its current challenges Italy never ceases to amaze humanity with its artistic and cultural heritage.
I have lived in Italy for 6 years and I hold a BA from one of its most prestigious academic institution the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.
One year ago at a dinner hosted by a Northern European embassy I had the opportunity to discuss the differences between countries that are inspired by the working ethics inspired by Protestantism and those following working ethics inspired by the Catholic and Latin traditions prevailing in Southern Europe.

The contrast could not be but stark but certainly while differences are great between North and South Europe we can also find interesting similarities. Take for instance the Italian North or the famous industrial triangle — Milan, Turin and Genoa — it has contributed in large part to the Italian economic boom in the 1970s and 1980s. The same could be said about Spain a country that has known its golden years immediately after the end of the Franco era in the early 1970s.

In the last few years a grave economic crisis has hit these Southern European countries. Spain suffers from the biggest unemployment rate in the OECD. Italy is still searching for a solid non corrupt leadership. Berlusconi has highlighted the need for a serious rigorous plan to get out from the current economic morass. The same applies to Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Years ago a French historian wrote that civilizations go through cycles. First we had the civilizations that emerged in this part of the world in Persia and Mesopotamia. Then the Arabs came on board carrying culture all the way to Spain. They were followed by the emergence of Greece then Rome major contributors to world civilizations. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance power shifted to the countries bordering the Atlantic mostly the UK then the USA. Today Asia has become the global “pivot” to use a word dear to President Obama.
Last night music concert was a great reminder of Italy’s contribution to maintain some sanity and inspiration in this world. Please keep the enchantment on. We need more from Italy.


By: George Emile Irani

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