Music is not only a school subject. It is also a powerful instrument for inclusion, and especially for empowerment. What does music mean to you?

A. I believe in the power of music, a language that has the ability to affect awareness and help make us better people. I think that music is a potential source of spiritual development and that knowing the musical language is extremely useful for everyone, not just those who would like to make it their profession. It is a lifelong friend. It is no coincidence that I insisted that my children study a musical instrument from when they were very young.
As I have already said during many interviews, music has been my medicine right from my early childhood and my favorite way to imbue life with lightness. At that time, I had not yet become acquainted with such a beautiful and complex term as “empowerment”, however – even long before I looked into it in more depth and started studying the humanities and reading the texts of philosophers – it was clear to me in my heart of hearts that music was a special language. Something that could “change the moral character of the soul” (as Aristotle said), that can teach us about beauty and open our hearts and minds. This is an intuition that I then went on to study more in-depth and which I have experienced firsthand over the course of my career, until bringing to fruition the project to create the Foundation that bears my name, in 2011, through which we have tried to create opportunities for individuals and communities, so that they can express their potential to the fullest. And music is a valuable tool in this. That is why we have included it, and actually favored it, in ABF’s educational projects. In 8 years, out of the more than 30 million euros we have raised – thanks to generous donations from organizations and individuals – most of it has been reinvested in educational projects, both abroad and in Italy.


Music and people. Everyone has his or her own music inside them. And like in an orchestra… everybody brings his and her own contribution to compose a unique harmony. How does music bring people together?

A. Practicing music together means participating in a prodigious metaphor of democracy. We are talking about the universal language par excellence, which is far more powerful than verbal language. It is a language that can be a source of reflection, of inner richness, as well as a source of solace for all. It is an art form based on harmony, on dialog between the various parts and which, naturally, carries with it a powerful message of peace and fellowship.
Music shapes us because it puts those fundamental values for peaceful coexistence into practice and promotes the awareness of the need for an individual’s commitment towards their community. Everyone becomes an integral part of a musical instrument of greater proportions; everyone contributes to the beauty of the result, providing their active intellectual and emotional contribution; every individual learns to feel like part of something bigger which, in giving them strength, needs them to exist.


Q. But music is not only art and poetry. Music is logic, mathematics, discipline… Does this mean that music contributes to enhancing all spheres of education and learning?

A. You are quite right: the study of music represents a flexible and important element that supports formal education. In addition to offering a real opportunity to highlight, increase and develop the specific talent of the individual, the study and practice of music are precious educational opportunities all round. Music is – de facto – a practice with strong interdisciplinary effects. It offers the possibility of becoming aware of the discipline, responsibility and commitment required to achieve any result. I believe that music education can be crucial and that it represents an agent of great acceleration, regarding the achievement of Agenda 2030’s goal 4.7. As is well known, this goal strives for sustainable development and lifestyles, which are also ensured thanks to education. Education that aims to promote peace and enhance cultural diversity.
That is why I am particularly pleased to be here tonight to also ratify the memorandum of understanding that my Foundation has just signed with UNESCO, which – as we are well aware – guides the supportive actions for the sustainable objective of quality education, which will see us develop joint projects together, in which music is both the vehicle and a support to formal education. Furthermore, I believe that our collaboration will be particularly important in areas of the world where, given the geopolitical and social complexity, art is at risk of being perceived as a luxury, instead of as an opportunity and tool for overcoming our limits and conveying messages of peaceful coexistence. This is the case in Haiti, where ABF has been developing an important music education program, since 2016, – which we will hear more about tonight – and in Mali, where ABF and UNESCO will work side-by-side.


You mentioned several times the ‘Culture of Beauty’. What does this bring to humanity?

A. Art and beauty can restore hope in the future and are an extraordinary opportunity for the liberation and the self-affirmation of both people and their communities. Ultimately, art and beauty are human rights.
Studying, being around and practicing beauty is crucial, even more so for the younger generations, for the children of today who will be the citizens of tomorrow. True beauty – in the sense of everything that inspires and does no harm – is intimately connected to goodness.
Music education (and education in general, and thus the awareness of the beauty of goodness, and the intrinsic goodness of true beauty) can bring about a real revolution. Not the bloody ones, of course, which all failed miserably. I’m talking, instead, about the only possible and desirable revolution: the inner one.
Without forgetting that an individual who has the opportunity to fully express their potential becomes the best representative, a virtuous example and a positive vector for involvement and improvement for the entire community.


Q. Indeed education – in all its forms – has this power to transform lives and societies. What is the role school can play in the life of young people?

A. School is the first experience of socializing and community. School, together with the family, is the perfect hub for offering the kind of education that is the key to guaranteeing the same opportunities for all and is therefore the cornerstone of all democratic societies.
When conveyed through respect for your neighbor and the communication of positive values, education is still the most effective response, the seed of a journey that can transform people and, in perspective, the community that they belong to.
Two striking aphorisms by Friedrich Hegel comfort me in this thinking. On the one hand, there is his definition of education as the “art of making man ethical”, and on the other, the declaration that man, according to the German philosopher, is “the sum of his actions”. The foundation that bears my name has been striving to do its part, commensurate with its means, for several years now.