The ocarina is a globular flute made of clay. It comes in seven different sizes so as to form the largest family of wind instruments. It is a fully chromatic instruments, capable of playing any music. It was invented in my home town of Budrio by Giuseppe Donati in 1856. Since then there has been a group of Ocarina players.
And yes, since the age of six I have been playing this instrument. I play many instruments from a number of makers, but for my concerts I always use Fabio Menaglio's Do1.
Me presenting an ocarina to Bob Hawke in 1987
I started touring early. In this photo I am presenting an Ocarina to Bob Hawke, then prime minister of Australia, on our first Australian tour in 1987. During those years I travelled with the G.O.B. (Gruppo Ocarinistico Budriese) all over the world, including tours all over Europe and to Cuba (1989), Argentina (1990), Venezuela (1992), USA (1995), Australia (1997).
In 1998 I left to study at Princeton University and my ocarina playing became less frequent. But I still continued to play and occasionally tour with my old group back in Italy.
In recent years the group has been particularly popular in Japan and South Korea. Thanks to our agents at Harmony Fields we have been on tour in Japan most recently in 2019. Our next tour there will be in 2020.
The ocarina is a versatile instrument. It can play any music a regular chromatic instrument would.
As an ensamble of seven instruments, a group can play any polyphonic music. Traditionally, the ocarina septet performs opera adaptations, a legacy of its nineteenth century roots. But one can also play folk, pop (in 1992 we played on a Zucchero Fornaciari album that went multiplatinum), jazz, and modern and contemporary music.
This is a selection of a few videos that illustrate what the instrument can do.