Over 10 years ago, it was my fortune to connect with the founder of Fondazione Adkins-Chiti: Donne in Musica, Patricia Adkins-Chiti, who became and remained my mentor throughout the development of Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc., a non-profit organization founded in the USA to promote and support women musicians, globally. Beyond her encouragement and motivation to do the work for our organization, Patricia mentored me through my doctoral process and provided me with material to include in my dissertation – Women in Jazz: Music Publishing and Marketing. Also, in 2013, I was invited to be among 40 women composers at the WIMUST Conference in Fiuggi, Italy, where I met Patricia in person and enjoyed spending time with her.
Today, I was tagged by Irene Robbins in this post from Silvia Costa:
Patricia Adkins Chiti: A life for women in music [June 13, 2018]
On June 12th, Patricia Adkins-Chiti left us. A great pain, a huge void. An extraordinary woman, a musicologist who dedicated her life to the exploitation of women musicians in the world with the women’s foundation in music/women in music which marked the 40th year. For me, for 35 years, especially a special, generous, sensitive and loving friend. Irreplaceable. But also a wife who adored her Giampaolo, musician, and composer, who combined her common passion for music and a great love made of understanding, tenderness, and complicity.
Mezzo Patricia was awarded by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi of the title of Commander of the Republic for Cultural Merit. Her pioneering role in historical research on the presence of women among musical composers and as interpreters or crew had at the base a rebellion united with a deep sense of justice: denying a historiography that in fact denied it and returning identity and honor to so many women artists and authors. For this, Patricia had been on the UNESCO Music Council and, in 1978, created the international foundation of women in music, recognized by the Italian government, UNESCO, EUC, Arab Academy, and International Music Council UNESCO.
Thanks to Patricia and her foundation, many of us have been able to meet in person hundreds of musicians and contemporary interpreters from around the world. Through its publications and extraordinary research, we have discovered the wealth and cultural diversity, the creativity of musicians that without her would not have come into international music history. Passion and competence brought Patricia as a young mezzo, to snoop and study in the innermost archives, in all places in the world where she first went as a singer and then as a musicologist. From this capillary work was born, in the 1990s, the foundation archive based in Fiuggi: Foundation Adkins Chiti: women in music. And in the municipality of Frosinone, which she so loved and where she had a beloved house, her retreat, started a very important initiative, the International Symposium of Women in Music in Fiuggi, where the historical center of the town filled with music and meetings of extraordinary musicians.
But her very important work of research, which led her to write over three hundred essays on the history of composition and musical guidelines, was aimed at a mission that committed her whole life and that, even yesterday, with a thread of voice from her bed she reminded me of in the hospital. That is to return memory and honor to women who are often ignored in Italy and Europe by official history. And so, in the first encyclopedia she wrote with Aaron Cohen, she discovered 21 thousand women of which 1200 were Italian. Patricia’s foundation promoted contemporary music through calls for young composers.
Together with you, I have experienced the commission’s adventure, equal opportunities with the presidency of the council and President, on horseback at the end of the s, when as president I demanded that an artist be inserted, a choice I made, after I met her in the 1980s, and I understood her great value and commitment. From that friendship, there are many things including some of her most beautiful publications such as
- The Almanac of Righteous Divas, candeille, and musicians of Italy
- Jamila and the others: The music of women in the Mediterranean from civilization Sumerian to 1492, as a handbook for schools in Italian, English, and Arabic
- Women of Music in Europe in Italian and English
These three books accompanied several seasons of my life, always with Patricia close, from my experience in the Italian Parliament to the role of regional councillor to the European Parliament, where we presented it with a small concert of women. I was a member of the foundation board with dearest Gigliola Zecchi. When we were talking to Patricia about our friendship and our common commitment, we remembered two great initiatives that had seen her extraordinary creativity.
The first was in 2000, “Special Envoy” of the National Commission equal to the UNESCO Conference on cultural rights as a member of the Italian government delegation, Patricia convinced a distracted assembly, mainly male, singing in full plenary a lullaby of Schubert followed by a strong appeal “for your mothers, first teachers of music,” Patricia said, “I ask you to vote on our amendments in favour of recognition, exploitation and role of artists and musicians.” This was a success and the vote was unanimous.
The second, great project that at first seemed impossible was when she announced that she had asked for an appointment by the Secretary-General for the Jubilee of 2000 to celebrate on 12 September the feast of the Madonna with a great show of music, interreligious, entitled “Maria mater mundi”, dedicated to Maria, Myriam, and Mariam of the three great monotheistic religions.
Knowing her extraordinary ability to convince and her diplomatic skills, I never doubted that she would succeed as with the extraordinary show of dance and music in the church of Minerva in Rome with Liliana so dedicated to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a few years earlier, Bringing the dance back to a church! I still remember the emotion and extraordinary beauty of the show at the packed hall, beyond every prediction, in which they blended singing, music and dances of women from different parts of the planet, opening with the jubilee hymn from her commissioned to candeille through with an international notice. There was also a diplomatic incident because someone in the Vatican did not want a group of Iranians to sing the sacred verses of the Quran. But Patricia preferred to give up live TV rather than the singing of Iranian musicians, supported in this by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe. In an interview, she remembered that TV came from all over the world, including CNN.
Her commitment in recent months has been dedicated to carrying out the prestigious task entrusted to her by the United Nations High Human Rights Commission to organise in Rome as the only Italian foundation of the universal declaration of human rights devoted to women’s cultural rights. In the public notice launched by the foundation for women composers and creating music of all ages, nationalities, and musical training, she confided in me, the day before her death, with a special light in her eyes, that 196 replied from participating countries and 120 would be selected. She was very proud of this result and told me that the songs, which will be selected by an international commission, will be presented at the Argentina Theatre in November 2018 in a grand gala with UNESCO, UNHCR and the Italian government. This project had the official recognition of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and attributed the logo of the celebration.
Patricia’s commitment must become the commitment of all of us to bring this extraordinary event to a successful conclusion and dedicate the day of November 5 to her bright testimony of passion for music and women’s rights. I would be happy if women and in particular the musicians in Italy, Europe, and worldwide, would acknowledge European International Music Day on 21 June. I will do so on 26 June in Brussels at the high-level Conference of the European Parliament for the European Year of Cultural Heritage and on 27 June at the opening of the event dedicated by the delegation of pd to the 150th anniversary of death By Joachim Rossini.
Photos of the WIMUST Conference in Fiuggi, Italy in July 2013