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"Here in Milan there exists one symphony orchestra that has done nothing but advance over the years to become a grand orchestra. This is the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi."
With these words, last September, the distinguished music critic Paolo Isotta thus defined the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi within the pages of Corriere della Sera, clearly summarizing our path of growth.
laVerdi, founded in 1993 by Vladimir Delman, has set itself up over the years as one of the most relevant national symphony institutions, able to tackle a repertoire that extends from Bach at the cornerstone of the 19th century to the music of the 20th century. The concert program of the “20th Anniversary” 2012-2013 Season featured 38 symphony programs from September to June, with a layout in which the classics were combined with lesser known pieces. In 2012, the main season was followed by an additional summer season (July and August).
From 1999 to 2005 Riccardo Chailly, now the Conductor Laureate, assumed the role of Musical Director, a role that in the 2009-2010 Season was given to Ms. Zhang Xian (China). Ruben Jais, Artistic Director of laVerdi, is the Resident Conductor. During the 2011-2013 Seasons the American John Axelrod was the Principal Conductor.
October 6, 1999, marked the inauguration--through the execution of Mahler’s Symphony No.2 Resurrection, directed by Riccardo Chailly--of the new permanent home of the Orchestra, the Auditorium di Milano Fondazione Cariplo, that for its aesthetic, technological and acoustic characteristics is considered one of the best Italian concert halls.
Another distinct element of the Orchestra is its establishment, in October 1998, of the Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, led by Maestro Roman Gandolfi, a prestigious figure of choral direction that has worked with the largest orchestral conductors and in the most important operatic theaters in the world. The Chorus, with its 100 members, is able to engage in the symphonic-lyrical repertoire from the Baroque era to the Twentieth Century. In practice, the roll of Chorus Master is fulfilled by Erina Gambarini.
Certain concerts recur each year to highlight the musical path of laVerdi: among which are featured one of the great Passions by Bach in proximity to Easter, the New Year’s concert of the Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and Verdi’s Requiem Mass.
The Orchestra has been conducted, among others, by Riccardo Chailly, Georges Prêtre, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Rudolf Barshai, Claus Peter Flor, Christopher Hogwood, Helmuth Rilling, Peter Maag, Marko Letonja, Daniele Gatti, Roberto Abbado, Ivor Bolton, Kazushi Ono, Vladimir Jurowski, Yakov Kreizberg, Ulf Schirmer, Eiji Oue; and notables such as Herbert Blomstedt, Kryzsztof Penderecki, Leonard Slatkin, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Wayne Marshall, Sir Neville Marriner, Oleg Caetani, Martin Haselböck, Alan Buribayev, Aldo Ceccato, Giuseppe Grazioli, Ion Marin, Juanjo Mena, and Paul Daniel.
The Orchestra has collaborated, furthermore, with soloists like Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire, Mstislav Rostropovich, Vadim Repin, Lynn Harrell, Viktoria Mullova, Han-Na Chang, Sarah Chang, Midori, Alexander Kobrin, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Salvatore Accardo, Mario Brunello, Enrico Dindo, Alexander Toradze, Hilary Hahn, Radovan Vlatkovic, Helene Grimaud, Luis Bacalov, Salvatore Accardo, Roberto Cominati, Emanuele Arciuli, Natasha Korsakova, Gianluca Cascioli, Yefim Bonfman, Massimo Quarta, Yuri Bashmet, Francesca Dego, Steven Isserlis, Hüseyin Sermet, Sol Gabetta, Alison Balsom, Kolja Blacher, Benedetto Lupo, Daniel Müller-Schott, Martin Fröst.
In April 2002 the Orchestra Sinfonica and the Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi Foundation was established. The Foundation, sponsored in part by the Banca Popolare di Milano, the RAS, the Regione Lombardia, the Provincia di Milano, the Commune di Milano, the Camera di Commercio di Milano and Pirelli RE, intends to protect the traditions that has defined the Orchestra since its inauguration, or rather the presence of many associated members that bestows a unique identity to this great musical institution.
Other than the rich Symphonic Season in its proper home in Milan, the Orchestra is often invited to prestigious halls throughout Italy and abroad. In 2002, the Orchestra was the resident orchestra at the Festival dei Due Mondi di Spoleto and played in France, Spain, Portugal and Switzerland in its first European tour. In June 2003, conducted by Oleg Caetani, the Orchestra performed in Chile, Argentina and Brazil, and in October played in the principal concert hall of Japan in a tour directed by Riccardo Chailly with the participation of Martha Argerich and the Chorus of laVerdi led by Romano Gandolfi. In January 2004, laVerdi, conducted by Riccardo Chailly, made its debut at the Festival delle Canarie. In the summer of 2004, the orchestra was booked as the resident orchestra at the Festival delle Nazioni di Città di Castello. In January 2005, led by Eiji Oue with the participation of the violinist Hilary Hahn, a tour of Germany and France was realized, while in May of the same year, under the baton of Riccardo Chailly, the orchestra was hosted in some of the biggest european cities including Frankfurt, Vienna and Budapest. Of note, at the end, was the important debut at the 68th edition of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in May of 2005.
In November of 2006 laVerdi carried out, for the first time in Italian history, a tour of all the national territories, reaching eleven cities in about 20 days, under the direction of Maestro Marko Letonja and with the participation of pianist Benedetto Lupo.
On April 24th, 2008, the Orchestra and Chorus, directed by Oleg Caetani, was exhibited in Sala Nervi (Vaticano) in the presence of S.S. Benedetto XVI and the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano, in a concert offered to the President of the Republic to celebrate the III anniversary of the papacy of Benedetto XVI.
On December 12th and 13th, 2008, the Orchestra and Chorus were invited to Baku (Azerbaijan) as a part of the II Matislav Rostropovich International Festival. Conducted by Maestro Eugene Kohn, the orchestra performed the Requiem Mass of Giuseppe Verdi and took part in the Opera Gala “World Stars” featuring opera arias of Verdi, Puccini, Mascagni, and Bizet.
On April 30th, 2009, through an exchange with the Symphonic Orchestra of Euskadi (Basque Region), laVerdi, led by Oleg Caetani and with pianist Simone Pedroni, was brought on tour to Bilbao, San Sebastiàn, Vittoria, and Pamplona.
In the months of June and July 2009, the Orchestra was invited to perform in a series of concerts at the 52nd Festival dei Due Mondi di Spoleto: the opening concert, with Amahl and gli ospiti notturni, Sebastian and the prelude to Amerlia al ballo by Giancarlo Menotti (conducted by James Conlon); Gianni Schicchi by Puccini, with the conducting of James Conlon and the direction of Woody Allen; the concert concluded with music by Gershwin (conductor and pianist Wayne Marshall).
In the 2009-2010 Season, laVerdi was occupied with two important tours: the first, at the end of September, in the major theaters of Switzerland, under the direction of Maestro Roberto Abbado; the second, between October and November, showcased laVerdi throughout nine italian regions, with 16 concerts directed by Maestro Wayne Marshall, obtaining great acclaim from audiences and critics alike.
On April 24th, 2010, in occasion with the 65th anniversary of the Liberation and the 20th Anniversary of the passing of Luigi Nono, laVerdi, conducted by Francesco Maria Colombo, performed the piece Il Canto Sospeso by Luigi Nono and the Auditorium di Milano, in the presence of the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano.
In the months of June and July 2010, laVerdi was brought to the 53rd Festival dei Due Mondi di Spoleto with the opera Gogo no eiko by Hans Werner Henze, conducted by Johannes Debus (director Giorgio Ferrara), receiving a great response from critics; concluding with a closing concert in the Piazza del Duomo, directed by the young Diego Mattheuz.
On March 20th, 2011, in the Auditorium of Milan, the Orchestra Sinfonica and Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, led by Maestro Jader Bignamini (Chorus Master Erina Gambarini), performed a special concert for the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy and for the recurrence of the Five Days of Milan, in the presence of the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano.
Also in 2011 laVerdi was featured at the 54th Festival dei Due Mondi di Spoleto with the comedic opera Amelia at the ball of Gian Carlo Menotti, to great critical acclaim.
Of note is the performance of War Requiem by Britten at La Scala di Milano, on September 11th, 2011, with the Symphonic Orchestra, Symphonic Chorus and the Youth Chorus under the baton of Maestro Zhang Xian (Chorus Master Erina Gambarini, Youth Chorus Master Maria Teresa Tramontin) in occasion with the 10th Anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City.
In December 2011, the Symphonic Orchestra and Youth Choir were invited to Oman for a performance of Carmen by Bizet (conducted by Patrick Fourneiller, Youth Chorus Master Maria Teresa Tramontin), in occasion with the inauguration of the Royal Opera House of Muscat.
In November 2012 the Orchestra, directed by Jader Bignamini and with participation of the violinist Francesca Dego, was featured in a triumphant tour in Russia (Moscow and Saint Petersburg), in occasion with 40 years of activity in Moscow of Banca Intesa San Paolo.
The Orchestra has developed an immense discography, releasing over thirty CDs, under labels such as Decca, Emi, RCA, DG, Arts. The first cd Verdi Heroines with Angela Georghiu won the 2000 Gramophone Award, the 2000 Classic FM People’s Choice and Le Choc de l’Année 2000. The cd Verdi-Messa Solenne with the participation of the Chorus was nominated for the 2001 Gramophone Awards, while the public lauded the Rossini Arias with Juan Diego Flórez, with whom the Orchestra also produced Una furtiva lagrima. Other releases include a CD of sacred Arias with Plácido Domingo for Deutsche Grammophon, three CDs of rare pieces by italian composers, Rossini Discoveries, Verdi Discoveries and, in 2004, Puccini Discoveries, conducted by Riccardo Chailly for Decca. Also released by Decca, in April 2005, was the CD Orchestral Transcriptions di Luciano Berio, under the direction of Riccardo Chailly.
In September 2006, in occasion with the centennial of the birth of Dmitrij Sostakovic, an integration of Symphonies, conducted by Oleg Caetani, was released by a russian creator under the label Arts (“10/10 Highest Rating” -Classics Today, “ffff” -Télérama, “CD del Mese” -Amadeus), and the Chamber Symphony directed by Rudolf Barshai through the label Brilliant Classics.
In 2008, the Orchestra and Chorus Verdi released the album Cielo e Mar for Deutsche Grammophon with Rolando Villazón, conducted by Daniele Callegari; for the label Universal Music, Andre Chénier by Umberto Giordano with the participation of Daniela Dessì, Fabio Armiliato, Carlo Guelfi, directed by Vjekoslav Sutej; for the label DEAG Classics, Verdissimo arias from the operas of Giuseppe Verdi with the soprano Lucia Aliberti, conducted by Oleg Caetani; for the label Sugar Music the CD Incanto with Andrea Bocelli was released, led by conductor Steven Mercurio.
In 2009 the following were released: The thousand and one nights, music by Victor De Sabata, conducted by Francesco Maria Colombo (Universal Music); for Decca, The Verdi Tenor with Marcelo Álvarez, directed by Daniel Oren and Verismo with Renée Fleming, under the baton of Marco Armiliato, which won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance. In February 2013 the first two out of six CDs dedicated to the milanese composer Nino Rota, Nino Rota Orchestral Works, were released by Decca with the Symphonic Orchestra directed by Giuseppe Grazioli.