Beginning in 1952, the Arezzo Friends of Music Association initiated the International Polyphonic Competition. It constitutes the most important stage for choral expressions from around the world: an incomparable range of repertoires, styles, and composers. Since 1983 the Competition has been organized by the Guido d’Arezzo Foundation.
The National Polyphonic Competition was born in 1952, replaced the following year by the International edition. It then resumed in 1984. The great choral realities of our nation that have participated and are participating remind the world how important the choral tradition is in Italy.
It is a competition reserved for youth and school choirs, on the basis of the most recent regulatory guidelines launched by the MIBACT, which provide for the establishment of student choirs in all schools of all levels, and which takes place in a context, that of our city, of which all the traditional and prestigious choral events that the city of Arezzo organizes every year, such as the very famous “Guido d’Arezzo” International Polyphonic Competition, are part.
The International Guido d’Arezzo Polyphonic Contest is held in some of the most important monuments of the city, all of them of considerable historic and artistic value: the Medieval churches and the Francesco Petrarca Theatre. The Festival of Folk Music is set around the charming Duomo.
Established in 1984, it has an annual cadence and is an important corollary to the “Guido d’Arezzo” International Polyphonic Competition. It aims to enrich and qualify the choral repertoire of contemporary music. To date, more than two thousand works have been received from composers all over the world. The works are preserved and catalogued in the Foundation’s archives.
The National Composition Competition “Canta Petrarca” is reserved for authors of Italian nationality or resident in Italy and concerns compositions for a cappella choir on a text taken from the Canzoniere of Francesco Petrarca, the great poet from Arezzo whom countless composers from all eras have drawn upon. The Competition was established in 2016 with the aim of fostering and increasing the creation of a new repertoire for international amateur choral music.
The GUIDONEUM FESTIVAL was born in 2007 with the aim of providing an excellent framework for the International Polyphonic Competition and the other events of the “Guido d’Arezzo” Foundation, increasing its concert aspect through musical events entrusted to professional groups and thus realizing a further moment of international meeting dedicated to professional choral music in the name of Guido d’Arezzo. Enriching itself then, since 2016, with other concert events of various kinds, the GUIDONEUM has now become an event with an autonomous character that, while maintaining firm references and connection with the traditional International and National Polyphonic Competitions, intends to offer the city additional concert moments throughout the year.
In the field of training and research, the Guido d’Arezzo Foundation has been running since 1980 a three-year School of Advanced Training for Choral Conductors, funded by the Region of Tuscany, which for years has contributed substantially to the training of a valid class of choral conductors, on whom the future of our choral music will rely. In addition to the school, master classes, refresher courses and conferences are organized throughout the year, always on polyphonic choral matters of the amateur sector. Since 2002, with the fundamental support of the Tuscany region, a well-established and careful didactic choice, dedicated to the training of the choir director, has made the training proposal for choir directors stable, developing one of the most important centers for the training of directors in Europe.
On June 21 each year, the day of the summer solstice, when many cities in Italy and Europe celebrate the “Festival of Music,” Arezzo pays homage to its great fellow citizen, Guido d’Arezzo, with a day entirely dedicated to him. The event, desired by the Foundation and held in several of the city’s most characteristic places (squares, churches, theater), is attended by local musical institutions and both vocal and instrumental groups from different parts of Italy and Europe.
On the same day, the Foundation, in the presence of the Authorities, awards the “Guido d’Arezzo” prize to personalities and institutions that have earned special merits in the field of music and the promotion of musical culture.
“Polifonie – History and Theory of Chorality” is the scientific musicological journal, organ of the Center for Guidonian Studies, published annually by the “Guido d’Arezzo” Foundation. Founded in 2001 by Francesco Luisi as a result of the Millennium Celebrations of Guido d’Arezzo’s birth, since 2019 it has had a Scientific Committee made up of scholars of international prestige to ensure the journal’s highest scientific quality and leading role in the field of musicological research.