Marco Calliari Honours His Heritage Through Music

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Quebec-born singer Marco Calliari boasts a distinct musical past consisting of two genres that aren’t typically complementary to one another. Perhaps that’s the reason his talent stand out.

When Marco was in his teens, he formed the heavy metal band Anonymus with some school friends. The group went on to support big-name heavy metal acts such as Blind Guardian, Anthrax and Biohazard, selling close to 50,000 records in the process.

But it was thanks to Marco embracing his Italian heritage that he embarked on his other, arguably bigger, musical adventure.

Having constantly been surrounded by the music and melodies of the Italian opera, his move into the realm of traditional Italian music was hardly a surprise, despite his initial forays into the world of heavy metal.

And now with four solo efforts and an ever-growing fan base, Marco brings the world of Italian music to Moncton’s Capitol Theatre on Thursday.

Marco’s heavy metal band Anonymus, formed in 1989, began picking up momentum both at home and abroad.

“With Anonymus, I was 14 years old and the other guys in the band were 15. You had four multilingual guys that made up the band –one Chilean, two Spanish twins and me from Italy,” he says. “French was initially the language that brought us together but after our first record, we didn’t want to settle on sticking with any one direction. With our second album, we began mixing the languages of our respective heritages into the music.”

After five albums and 17 years with the band, the pull towards traditional Italian music was too strong for Marco to ignore, eventually leading to his departure from the group.

“In 1994, I spent a month and a half in Italy, the impact of which was truly inspiring,” Marco says. “My native tongue is Italian yet I returned from that trip wanting to really delve into the culture even further. Being a musician, I looked up a couple of songs and the history behind the songs and simply started to fall in love with these old songs from the Italian repertoire.”

Despite this rather radical change in musical direction, he has no regrets about his time spent in the world of heavy metal. In fact, he is returning to perform a show to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Anonymus later this year.

“There is a lot of good baggage that came from my time with Anonymus. It is going to be good to be back performing with those guys. It is a comfortable place to return to, although it has a very different physical demand compared to the work I do with Italian music,” Marco laughs.

Marco released his solo debut record, Che la vita, in 2003. In 2006 he brought his sophomore record, Mia dolce vita, which featured his take on traditional Italian songs such as “L’italiano,” “O sole mio” and “Leggenda di natale.”

Those two records alone sold a combined 65,000-plus copies. Marco went on to release Al faro est (2010) and last year’s Mi ricordo, which takes its name from the Italian translation of Quebec’s motto of “Je me souviens.”

Having grown up the multicultural environment that is the Province of Quebec, Marco says it has played a major role in driving him to honour his heritage through song.

“It has always been very important to me to honour tradition. I think the same could be said for anybody who comes from a different culture. I think it is important to keep that space open and to share those traditions with others. Immigration is a beautiful thing that affords each of us the opportunity to learn about other people’s cultures,” he says.

“Musically for me, I feel that it is really important for people to take something away from my music. I like to think of me sharing my music as a history class of sorts. I spend a lot of time during my show sharing stories and the history behind specific songs as well as behind my family.”

So what do Marco’s parents think of his foray into the world of Italian music? The singer says that his parents have always been his biggest supporters. He jokes that even though they could have cared less about the music he was making as a part of Anonymus, they were always by his side to support whatever he chose to pursue.

“Me moving into the realm of Italian music has been a very pleasant surprise for my parents. They have been a great source of support, though admittedly when I began doing shows in Italian, they weren’t quite sure what to make of it,” he laughs.

“But since I have been pursuing this style of music over the course of the last decade, they tell me as though they feel they are getting younger every day. It has definitely been an amazing ride so far.”

What: Marco Calliari
When: Thursday May 22, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 
 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets start at $23 (plus service charges). Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca

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