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Coro e Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Choir & Orchestra)

Founded: (1566) 1895 - Rome, Italy

The Orchestra

The Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (= ANSC) was the first orchestra in Italy to devote itself exclusively to the symphonic repertoire, presenting the premieres of many 20th century masterpieces. Since the beginning of the last century, the Orchestra has played approximately 14,000 concerts, collaborating with the era's leading musicians under the direction of conductors such as Gustav Mahler, Debussy, Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, Arturo Toscanini, De Sabata and Herbert von Karajan.

The Orchestra's permanent conductors have been Bernardino Molinari, Franco Ferrara, Fernando Previtali, Igor Markevitch, Thomas Schippers, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Daniele Gatti and, at present, Myung-Whun Chung. Leonard Bernstein was its Honorary President from 1983 to 1990.

From 1908 to 1936, the concert seasons of the Accademia were held at the Augusteo, the theatre built on the ruins of the Roman mausoleum of Emperor Augustus. The Pius XII Auditorium became the official concert hall after 1958 and remained so until the final move in February 2003 to the Auditorium Parco della Musica, designed by architect Renzo Piano. During traditional concert seasons, the Orchestra (often together with the Chorus) performs important symphonic-choral works in a repertoire which ranges from the 18th century to the present. In addition, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra and Chorus are regularly invited abroad by the major musical institutions of other countries. The Orchestra has appeared at The White Nights Festival of St. Petersburg and at the celebrations for the centenary of The Proms (Henry Wood Promenade Concerts in London) - the first Italian orchestra to be invited to this festival. With Myung-Whun Chung, the Orchestra has given concerts in Spain, Portugal and Belgium and it made a particularly successful appearance at the Royal Festival Hall of London in November, 1999. The Orchestra has also toured the Far East on several occasions (1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001).
In addition to annual appearances at major Italian music festivals (Settembre Musica, Turin; Settimana Musicale Senese, Siena; Sagra Malatestiana, Rimini), the Orchestra has gained international prestige thanks to its successes at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall (the first Italian orchestra invited to appear at that orchestra's historic seat in Berlin), at the Istanbul Music Festival, at the Festival of Santander in Spain and on the lengthy Japanese tour for the "Italy in Japan" festival.

In recent years, the Orchestra has made numerous recordings for major record companies, including: a series of CDs of sacred music, conducted by Myung-Whun Chung, for Deutsche Grammophon on the occasion of Jubilee Year; a CD of the Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Duruflé Requiems, which was awarded the Diapason d'Or; a CD dedicated to the Te Deums of Charpentier, Mozart and Pärt; and a CD featuring the sacred music of Giuseppe Verdi (with Carmela Remigio) along with Bacalov's Misa Tango, which was nominated for a Grammy Award. The Orchestra's most recent recording is a collection of Sinfonie from Italian operas, again with Myung-Whun Chung, for Deutsche Grammophon.

The Chorus

The Chorus of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia is composed of 86 members. It is the only chorus in Italy that dedicates itself exclusively to the symphonic-choral repertoire and to the great tradition of Italian polyphony.

Its origins are none other than those of the Accademia itself. It was established in 1566, the year in which the Chapel-masters and Choristers accepted the principles of Palestrinian reform and formed an association, electing Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina himself president. In the second half of the 19th century, the Chorus began to assume a definitive role and take part in performances of the great symphonic-vocal repertory.

In 1895, the Sala Accademica in Via dei Greci was inaugurated with a concert of Palestrina's music directed by Raffaele Terziani. One of its first maestros was Bernardino Molinari, who subsequently supervised the musical direction of concerts at the Augusteo for 40 years.

Successive conductors of the Chorus were Domenico Alaleona, G. Battista Zorzato, Antonio Martino, Emilio Casolari, Antonio Traversi, Bonaventura Somma (who also formed the Polyphonic Chorus), Gino Nucci, Giorgio Kirschner, Josef Veselka, Giulio Bertola, Rainer Steubing-Negenborn and Norbert Balatsch, Filippo Maria Bressan, and the present conductor, Roberto Gabbiani.

The Chorus performs alone during the winter season, while during the summer season it joins the Accademia Orchestra for the execution of great classical and modern symphonic-choral works. In 1992, a Chamber Chorus was created that also performs extensively.

The Chorus has sung in many cities in Italy, and has participated several times in the closing evening of the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto. It has also toured all over the world. Among its many international appearances are: the 1952 Festival of the XX Century in Paris; the USA and Canada in 1955; Russia in 1977 with Domenico Bartolucci and Germany in 1987, during celebrations for the 750th anniversary of the city of Berlin. In July 1992, it sang in Germany with the Orchestra of the Schleswig Holstein, directed by Lorin Maazel. In May 1993, it made successful appearances in both Prague and Budapest, and it subsequently participated in the performance of L.v. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 directed by Carlo Maria Giulini with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI (Turin). Following that, it took part in performances of Mozart's Requiem directed by Vladimir Spivakov in Kiev upon the 10th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

In addition, the Chorus has a prestigious collaboration with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Claudio Abbado, with whom it performed Verdi's Otello in Berlin, in concerts at "Ferrara Musica" and at the celebrations for the Bicentennial of the Tricolor in Reggio Emilia. In 1977, it sang in Dresden with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra conducted by Daniele Gatti, and participated in the events for "International Youth Day" with the Pope in Paris. It has also been invited to Brazil for a series of concerts with the Saltzburg Chamber Virtuosi.

With Valery Gergiev conducting the Kirov Orchestra, the Chorus appeared in September 1998 at the Sagra Malatestiana of Rimini in Verdi's Otello. In November that same year, it sang at the Sistine Chapel with Riccardo Muti, on the occasion of the Pope's birthday.

The Chorus has also made numerous recordings: with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia Orchestra it took part in Puccini's La Boheme directed by Leonard Bernstein, Rossini's Messa di Gloria directed by Salvatore Accardo, and a recording of Verdi's music conducteby Carlo Rizzi.

Recently, with Myung-Whun Chung, the Chorus has recorded the following discs: a celebration of the 2,750th anniversary of the founding of the City of Rome; music by L.v. Beethoven for Deutsche Grammophon; two CD's of sacred music dedicated to the 2,000 Jubilee; both the Maurice Duruflé and Gabriel Fauré Requiems with Cecilia Bartoli and Bryn Terfel; the Misa Tango by Bacalov (also for DGG); and a CD devoted to sacred music by Giuseppe Verdi (upon the centenary of the composer's death).


Source: Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2006)

Myung-Whun Chung: Short Biography | Coro e Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia | Recordings of Vocal Works | | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Robberto Gabbiani


G.P. d. Palestrina: Missa Ecce sacerdos magnus

Links to other Sites

Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Official Website) [Italian/English]


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Last update: Sunday, May 28, 2017 14:38