By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 18, 2006 at 9:38 AM

Visit the Arezzo Wave Foundation's (FAWI) Web site and you'll likely be amazed at the kinds of things the Tuscan non-profit is doing in the name of Italian youth culture. In addition to organizing and promoting the extremely popular annual Arezzo Wave Love Festival -- often dubbed Italy's Woodstock -- for the past 20 years, the organization has, for the past four, also been promoting Italian music across Europe and overseas.

The Foundation aims, in its words, "to maximize, preserve and increase the potential of youth culture and to maximize, promote and export Italian music abroad."

It's the kind of support that most hard working, independent musicians can usually only fantasize about.

In addition to a radio station, the foundation runs a number of competitions, allowing artists from across Italy to gain a wider audience. Arezzo Wave Band is for emerging groups, Elettrowave Challenge is for audio/visual artists and Cabawave is for cabaret performers. But there's also now Comicswave for graphic novelists and comic artists and Photowave for photographers.

A complete list of Arezzo Wave's activities would be far too lengthy to run here.

FAWI also helps Italian bands tour outside Italy and over the past two years, some of those performers have come to the United States, including Carmen Consoli, Fiamma Fumana, Linea 77 and Piccola Orchestra Avion Travel, most of which have performed in Chicago.

Avion Travel is also coming back this spring, along with Ferruccio Spinetti and Petra Magoni.

We took that opportunity to ask Mauro Valenti, artistic director of the festival and president of the foundation, about FAWI's history and mission and the promotion of Italian music in the United States.

BT: After the festival, how was the idea for the foundation born. Was there a model or is it the first example of a project of this kind?

MV: The Arezzo Wave Love Festival was born in 1987 and we are celebrating the 20th edition this year. The foundation on the other hand was started in 2002 because we felt the need to have an institutional structure that could be a representative in Italy.

We didn't have a model and the foundation is a unique example of its type and in its time, recognized by the Italian government and active in our country in the promotion of youthful expression and for the export of Italian music. Beyond being the entity which promotes the Arezzo Wave Love Festival, naturally.

BT: I know that Arezzo Wave has had a hand in concerts by Carmen Consoli, Avion Travel, Linea 77 and Fiamma Fumana in Chicago and New York and at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, but are there other plans for Italian music in the United States?

MV: One of the missions that Arezzo Wave Italia foundation is working toward is the development and the promotion of the popular Italian rock music scene (modern music) abroad, beyond the one shown by the multinational labels; all the quality music which has success in Italy and that we think could have success in other countries, too. Particularly in the USA thanks to the good relationship and cooperation we have with SXSW and Bill Bragin's Joe's Pub (in New York), we had the opportunity to bring more attention to these bands. The idea is to increase the presence of Italian artists in the USA through the cooperation with festivals like CMJ (in New York City).

In the meantime in June we will be in Brooklyn at the International Film Festival for the opening night with Avion Travel -- with its new line-up -- and then with concerts and showcases with Avion Travel (Joe's Pub on June 3) and with Petra Magoni and Ferruccio Spinetti, who has also found success outside Italy, especially in France.

BT: Aside from concerts, have you considered other means of promotion of Italian pop music in the USA: working with labels, distributors, radio, etc.?

MV: Even if the foundation -- which has a strong "live" tradition with the Festival Arezzo Wave -- has focused mostly on live performances, naturally we're looking to give as much information as possible to those who work in the music sector and as many opportunities as possible for them to have contact with their counterparts in America: labels, promoters, distributors and, naturally, media.

The FAWI, as the only official Italian member of the European Musical Platform -- consultation organ of the European Union's Culture Commission -- we also make use of the collaboration and the databases of the European Music Office in New York to be able to approach these counterparts and to access this information. Even if this channel is still new, we hope to be able in the future to continue to improve the results.

The Arezzo Wave Festival and Foundation Web site is arezzowave.com.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.