Liutaio Michele Sangineto

Master luthier Michele Sangineto was born in Albidona in the province of Cosenza in 1944. His small hometown in the Calabria region of southern Italy was founded on the ruins of the ancient Grecian city Leutarnia. There Michele began to study art and later earned an art diploma in creative woodworking in the nearby town of Castrovillari.

In the early 1970s Michele moved to Monza, a medieval city outside of Milan, where he began his exploration into the art of lutherie and the science of organology.

Driven by a natural curiosity and passionate in his research, he further developed his expertise as a craftsman as he continued to experiment.

Before long his instruments were in the hands of international talents such as the Breton Alan Stivell and Derek Bell from Ireland, which led more players to seek him out for custom harps. Other musicians who play Michele's instruments include the Italian musicians Vincenzo Zitello, Stefano Corsi and Alexander Bonivento, and also Irish harpist Grainne Yeats.

His continued investigation and creative imagination led him to specialize in the construction of chordophones of European origin such as mandolas, mandolins, bouzoukis, citterns, lyres, arched zithers, psalteries, dulcimers, Gothic and Celtic harps, crottas, arpanettes and vielles.

The self-taught artist has been honored by the Associazione Italia Medievale di Milano for his intensive research and dedication to the crafting of traditional instruments.

Michele is also one the great Italian popularizers of Medieval art and music on television and radio. His interviews have been broadcast on numerous to national and international TV and radio channels.

For almost 30 years he has been organizing European folk music festivals and events for artists and scholars including Derek Bell, N. Zabaleta, Roberto Leydi, Diego Carpitella and Michele Straniero.

From 1988 to 1991 he directed the Monza Festival Suoni di Antichi Strumenti at the Royal Villa and Teatro Manzoni, while in 2009 and 2010 directed the Festival dell'Arpa-Suoni di Antichi Strumenti d in Rome.

He is the founder and president of the Associazione Culturale Arpanetta, which organizes multidisciplinary shows focused on the promotion of the European music culture.

Michele has taught woodcarving for 35 years, bringing his expertise to students at the ISA art high school in Monza. He is also a visual artist who crafts woods of different colors and textures to produce an array of distinctive art pieces.

He has long cooperated with writers and niche publishing houses such as Il Pulcino Elefante, where he contributed as an artist to several small collections of poems written by Alda Merini (1931-2009), one of the most original Italian poetic voices of the 20th century — the "furious small bee", as she described herself in her poems.

Since the early 1980s Michele's instruments have been seen across Europe and been on display at international and national music festivals, theaters, conservatories of music, monasteries, cultural associations, and music and art academies including:

Rencontres Internationales de Luthiers et Maitres Sonneurs in Saint Chartier
Rencontres Internationales de Harpes Celtiques in Dinan
Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Lorient
Festival de Boulegan a l'Ostal in Saint Jean du Gard
Journees de Musiques Anciennes in Vanves
Rencontres Internationales de Musique Ancienne, Carrousel du Louvre, in Paris
The London International Exhibition of Early Music at Royal College of London
Greenwich International Early Music Festival & Exhibition, Old Royal Navy College
Internationale Wedstrijd Musica Antiqua in the Brugge Government Palace
Nachtmarkt at Burghausen Castle
Tage fur alte Musik in Brandenburg
Universidad Popular Garcia Barbonin in Vigo
International Musical Instruments Exhibition Esposizione at Buda Castle in Budapest
Scuola di Musica Popolare in Bellinzona

Among his many Italian shows, notable events include exhibitions at the Teatro Orione and the Teatro Ghione in Rome; at the Palazzo Marino and the Societa Umanitaria in Milan; at the Arengario and the Serrone della Villa Reale in Monza; at the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo; at the Public Library in Cremona; at the Accademia del Flauto Dolce in Bologna; at the Lido in Venice; at Porto Vecchio in Genoa; and in the cities of Cuneo, Biella, San Daniele del Friuli, Benevento and Cosenza.

One particularly precious harp by Michele is on permanent display at the Musee des Instruments de Musique in Brussels.

More on Michele:

Feature in Albidona online (Italian)
Story on Blogfoolk (Italian)