Institute for Italian Studies Presented Michael Ciufo
THUNDER BAY – Music – On November 1st and 2nd, Thunder Bay’s Italian Cultural Centre was transformed into a celebration of Italian culture as conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser and tenor Michael Ciufo, along with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, took to the stage for Viva Italia.
The twenty-seven-year-old Ciufo, an accomplished vocalist and graduate from the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory, travelled to Thunder Bay from the Toronto area to entertain the local crowd.
Frank Pullia, a director for the Institute of Italian Studies at Lakehead University, was in the audience for the performance on November 2nd.
“I am very pleased that the Institute was able to help sponsor this event,” said Pullia. “Michael Ciufo and the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra were a great combination of classical music and powerful tenor voice that entertained and awed at the same time.”
Pullia noted the importance of the organization in the community. “The Institute of Italian Studies was formed to promote appreciation for the diversity and richness of Italian culture through study of the Italian language, research of Italian-Canadian heritage, artistic pursuits and social and cultural events and programming,” explained Pullia.
Ciufo’s alluring operatic voice kept the audience captive as he delivered well-known Italian classics.
“Anytime I get the opportunity to share the Italian culture and traditions through music, which is a large part of Italian life, is an honor,” said Ciufo. “Being Canadian born and having those ancestral roots in Italy, it makes it that much more special to me, not to mention I’m doing what I love and sharing my passion, which is music in general.”
Ciufo remembers how his musical talent first gained notice.
“I was in grade 3,” Ciufo explains. “They called all boys from 2, 3, 4 and 5 to the health room. There was a piano there.”
After each boy had an opportunity to demonstrate his singing prowess, Ciufo says he had a unique offer.
“I was accepted to St. Michael’s Choir School,” he says, adding that his family decided to pass on the prestigious opportunity, though. “I was studying piano even before this happened. The love of music was inside of me.”
The young vocalist says that he has been studying singing the last 10 years, encouraged by a family that isn’t particularly musical.
“My mother joined the church choir after I was heavily involved in my music,” he explains.
Ciufo draws upon the inspiration of several singing sensations.
“I enjoy so many different artists for so many different reasons,” he revealed. “I admire all the greats and tenors that came before, including my own mentor, Hermanno Mauro from Mississauga. He could break glasses with his voice. He’s in his mid-70s and sings with as fresh a voice and as healthily as anyone.”
Ciufo imagines that the best is yet to come.
“I would certainly love to perform opera on a regular basis,” he announced. “You don’t get going until you’re in your 30s, really, and for others to trust you with big roles and big assignments.”
His talents extend to the creative side of music.
“I write original songs,” he explained of his focus on classical music and opera. “I’m really trying to solidify myself as a young artist on the world stage within the next five years.”
Ciufo hopes to have another opportunity to sing for a Thunder Bay crowd sometime over the next two years.
“I’m extremely grateful and deeply touched not only by the response of the audience and also by the welcoming nature of all the people in Thunder Bay. There seemed to be a lot of appreciation of the arts and my sharing of that music and that really meant a lot,” Ciufo concluded.
Bill Smith for NetNewsLedger