Astor Piazzola, Marcantonio Colonna Palace, Paliano, Chamber Orchestra of Frosinone – what do they have in common? Tango in palace for our pleasure.

Is it not a paradox that essentially sensuous music from the 20th century should vibrate the thick stone walls of a monument of renaissance or even earlier medieval architecture. Yet this is our invitation on a cool winter evening in Paliano, to experience ‘palatial tango’ or maybe just the ‘Last Tango in Palace,’ in the family home of the Prince of Paliano, Marcantonio Colonna.

Since the mid 1600s this palace of Paliano, just about 60 km south of Rome, has been the ‘country’ home of the main branch of the historic Colonna family of whom the prince is so often named Marcantonio.

The most famous Marcantonio Colonna was the second, who was appointed admiral of the Papal Fleet to take on the Turks at Lepanto. He won, but that is a long story to be told another day, a story which is recorded both on a frieze in the Paliano fortress (that since the mid 1800s has been a gaol for special prisoners) and in memories strolling up via Lepanto that leads to Piazza Marcantonio Colonna, and to the Palace as well as to the adjoining Church of Saint Andrew.

We entered the impressive salon (Sala degli Arazzi – Banner Room) of the palace, finding a large room, with very high ceiling, of approximated cubic proportion. It was an evening which promised to draw the warmth from the room into the deep sky above. The salon had been set up with casual seats for no more than 50 people, filling 2/3 of the room and leaving an open space in front of the music stands against the far wall.

The salon was already full but for a bench seat against the wall to which we navigated. The room was adorned on each of three walls with magnificent large banner standards of the Colonna family, with the family crest displaying the single white marble columns that defines the family name. Below the column appeared the family motto “Semper immota” – literally translated as “Always unmoved”, which I prefer to restate as “Forever Steadfast”.

After sitting for several minutes, I was reminded of the words of a princess from another famous Roman family who advised that:

any visitor to her palace in winter should come with at least two coats and shawls as the stones could freeze the life from the warmest heart!

Fortunately, the musicians also understood the risk of the audience, with teeth chattering out of time, to the rhythm of the Tango beat, and appeared on-stage enthusiastic to restore vibrancy.

The musicians were just perfect in capturing the audience, each instrument, each player exciting with virtuosity and the group combining in the tango beat, and so soon we lost the sensation of cold and were trapped in the creative sounds of Astor Piazzolla. Between tunes, Maurizio Turriziani, the conductor, told us some stories about the life and the mood of Astor Piazzolla and this has increased the pleasure of music itself.

Libertango, dedicated to those murdered during the Olympic Games of Munich, ‘Fall in Buenos Aires Port’ and the Trilogy of the Angel are just three examples of the exciting connection between tangos and life.

Astor Piazzolla has been able to elevate a popular music style into a form of art and the musicians of Chamber Orchestra of Frosinone, the beauty of Colonna palace in Paliano and the chilling winter air have transformed this night into something special. Something that we will remember forever.

We are looking forward to the next concert in the palace for ‘Another Tango (music) in Paliano’