Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Business of Happiness

The business of happiness

Fabio Dal Grande is one of the most creative, genial and positive-minded people you could meet, and he has put these qualities to work to make a career.

You can hear the note of passion when Fabio Dal Grande says, “I like to see people happy!”

That, he told me, is the main reason why, after spending four years in the weddings business in Japan, he and his two Japanese partners: a soprano singer and a pianist, decided to go into business for themselves. About a year ago they created the production company called Ascente.
“It’s a really good feeling when we produce a wedding and I can see the faces of the people,” Fabio explains, “I love this job because I work with people. I am making people happy.”

Originally from Italy, Fabio says that he incorporates Italian traditions into Ascente’s wedding productions.
“Music,” he notes with a hint of pride, “was born in Italy!”
In saying that, he reveals another side of his character that finds expression in the newly founded business. Ascente produces musical events. It acts as an agent for about 30 classical musicians and ten bands, providing clients like hotels and restaurants with appropriate music for events they hold. In addition, Ascente produces promotional videos for musical artists. Just last month the company embarked upon its biggest project in the music world so far.

“Sakamoto Kazuya is our main customer. We manage his career,” Fabio gestures with a hand to emphasize his point, “He is our pearl!”

Sakamoto is a violinist who, Fabio tells me, plays a unique, fusion style of music. Ascente has launched a project to promote his work that will include a combination CD and DVD release and a concert tour of Japan.

This diversified venture that Fabio is helping to build is currently based in Wakayama, but it is doing well enough that there are plans to open an office in Osaka next year. And his passions do not end there.

“I became interested in photography then I was eight or nine years old,” he said, “A substitute teacher came to our school and started teaching us with his camera.”

Years later, that interest lead him to a one year stay in England to study photography. That is where he met the Japanese woman who would become his wife. His photographs have appeared in books, magazines, and calendars in countries including Italy, Germany, and Japan. The Wakayama City government recently commissioned an exhibition of his photographic works.

“My pictures show the good in someone that I see from my point of view,” he says.

After his time in England, Fabio returned briefly to Italy, with his wife, and then, in 2001, they came to Japan. He claims he did nothing for the first months he was in the country, which is difficult to imagine looking at what he has accomplished with the rest of his time here. His first work in Japan was teaching Italian. Then he got into the business of weddings. Combining music productions with the bridal business, he says, is not only a way of expressing himself, but of giving something to a wider audience. “I’m in art to stay with the people,” he says, “They are the ones who buy the CDs and come to the concerts, so we want to give something to them.”

In that vein he provides services to the City of Wakayama such as a Santa Claus who walks the street accompanied by violin music, spreading holiday spirit at Christmastime, and an annual, free, classical music concert.

Fabio is a creative man who spends his time and energy turning dreams into reality. The most interesting question about him is not about what he has already been able to do. It is, rather: What will he do next?

Text: Alan Wiren. Photos: Courtesy Fabio Dal Grande


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