Rustica X Band receives the second EJN Award for Music & Community



During EJN General Assembly 2019 in Novara, Italy, the winner of the EJN Award 2019 for Music & Community was announced. The Award had been bestowed for the first time in 2018 to Banlieues Bleues festival in France.

The Award - dedicated to projects successfully tackling issues of social inclusion in their communities – had been difficult to decide upon in 2019. Although there could be only one winner there were also three nominees who were highly commended and received honourable mentions for their work in this field: Handelsbeurs Concert Hall (Ghent, Belgium); Mladí Ladí Jazz Festival (Prague, Czech Republic); Jazz in the Park Festival (Cluj, Romania).

The 2019 EJN Award for Music & Community was awarded by the EJN Board of Directors to the Rustica X Band project from Rome, Italy, led by Pasquale Innarella. Rustica X Band is a youth marching band that provides an informal music education and changes the quality of life for those who participate, by encouraging cooperation, social inclusion and enjoyment in music making. 

Named after La Rustica, one of Rome’s most socially and economically deprived suburbs - and supported by Cooperativa Sociale Nuove Riposte, Centro La Rustica - the project encourages children and young people who had no access to music or music education to come and try a musical instrument. The project also provides tuition and gives the participants many opportunities to perform.

During the General Assembly of EJN members, Pasquale Innarella thanked EJN for the Award. He spoke eloquently of his permanent commitment to the project which has given so many opportunities to young musicians. As the young people have become adults they have continued to keep in touch with the project, attend concerts, play music and, in at least 11 cases, have become fully professional musicians.

A video showed the extent of the project which has been running for 20 years and which has brought not only jazz but positive social and cultural benefits to over 450 young people from deprived communities. The project has attracted a great deal of attention, including from such well-known figures as Peter Gabriel, successfully challenging the widespread notion that jazz is only confined to theatres and lounges. Jazz is a social movement and Rustica X Band is part of “bringing it back home to where it started.''