The Italian viola da gamba player, conductor, and composer, Vittorio Ghielmi, began as a child in Milan his study of music with the violin and later the viola da gamba. He studied the viol with Roberto Gini at the Accademia Internazionale della Musica in Milan, with Wieland Kuijken at the Conservatoire Royale in Brussels and with Christophe Coin in Paris. Associations with instrument maker, engineer and humanist Luc Breton (Switzerland) as well as with many musicians of non-European traditions (India, Afghanistan, Africa, Latin America) have been fundamental to his musical career. In 1995 he was the winner of the "Concorso Internazionale Romano Romanini per strumenti ad arco" (Brescia). His fieldwork within old musical traditions surviving in forgotten parts of the world and bringing new perspectives to the interpretation of European "early music" led to him being presented the “Erwin Bodky Award” (Cambridge, Massachusetts USA 1997).
Vittorio Ghielmi has been compared by critics to Jasha Heifetz (Diapason) for his virtuosity, and described as “An Alchemist of sound” (Diario de Sevilla) for the intensity and versatility of his musical interpretations. He attracted notice while still very young for his new approach to the viola da gamba and to the sound of early music repertoire.
As viola da gamba soloist or conductor, Vittorio Ghielmi has appeared with many of the world’s most famous orchestras in the fields of both classical and ancient music (Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra - performing a Graun Concerto in the Hollywood Bowl; the London Philharmonia Orchestra, Wiener-Concertverein, Il Giardino Armonico, Freiburger Barockorchester, etc.). He performs recitals in duos with his brother Lorenzo Ghielmi and with Luca Pianca, and has performed many of in the most important halls (Musikverein Wien, Berliner Philharmoniker Hall, Casals Hall Tokio etc.). As soloist or chamber musician, he has shared the stage with artists such as Gustav Leonhardt (duo), Cecilia Bartoli, András Schiff, Thomas Quasthoff, Mario Brunello, Enrico Onofri, Viktoria Mullova, Graciela Gibelli, Giuliano Carmignola, Christophe Coin, Reinhard Goebel, Giovanni Antonini, Ottavio Dantone, etc. He is one of the few viola da gamba players regularly invited to appear as a soloist with orchestra.
Vittorio Ghielmi has been invited to play in the world première of many new compositions, many of which have been dedicated to him (Kevin Volans’ White man’s sleep, Teatro Regio di Torino; Nadir Vassena’s Bagatelle trascendentali for viola da gamba, lute and orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker Hall, 2006; Uri Caine’s Concerto for viola da gamba and orchestra, Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Bozar Bruxelles 2008; Caine’s Concerto per viola da gamba, basset-horn and Orchestra, Passau 2012). From 2007 to 2011 he was assistant to Riccardo Muti at the Salzburg festival. In 2007 he conceived and conducted a show, based on Dietrich Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri, with the American film maker Marc Reshovsky (Hollywood) and the Swedish choir Rilke Ensemble (G. Eriksson); the project was produced by the Semana de musica religiosa de Cuenca (Madrid) and brought later to the Musikfest Stuttgart in 2010. Over three nights in 2009, he gave a performance of Forqueray’s complete works for viola da gamba at De Bijloke, Ghent (Belgium). He has been artist in residence at Musikfest Stuttgart 2010, the Segovia festival 2011, and the Bozar Bruxelles 2011. In 2012 he conducted George Frideric Handel's Water Music at the Portogruaro Festival (Venice) with a spectacle on the river Lemene conceived by Monique Arnaud.
Vittorio Ghielmi’s ensemble, Il Suonar Parlante, appearing as a Viols Quartet or an Orchestra, is devoted to a new investigation of the early music repertoireas well as to the creation of new musical realities (see the page and link in this site). The ensemble has also performed with important jazz players such as Kenny Wheeler, Uri Caine, Jim Black, Don Byron, Markus Stockhausen, Nguyen Lê and Achille Succi; jazz and blues singers such as Cristina Zavalloni and Barbara Walker; pop singers like Vinicio Capossela; and flamenco stars such as Carmen Linares. Several jazzmen and composers have written new music for Il Suonar Parlante. The ensemble also collaborates with traditional Asian musicians like the Afghan virtuosi of Ensemble Kaboul (Khaled Arman).
Vittorio Ghielmi’s collaboration with traditional players and in particular with the Sardinian traditional singers of the Cuncordu de Orosei is documented in the film The Heart of Sound, BFMI (Salzburg-Hollywood). He has made many recordings winning many prizes (for labels such as Winter&Winter, Harmonia Mundi, Teldec, Decca, Sony, Auvidis, Opus 111, Passacaille) covering all the different musical styles in the viol repertoire; four CDs are dedicated to the virtuosic gamba concerti by Johann Gottlieb Graun (1702-1771) performed with Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, Orchester Wiener Akademie, Il Gardellino and Il Suonar Parlante.
In addition to his activity as an instrumentalist and conductor, Vittorio Ghielmi has often been in demand as an arranger and composer.
Vittorio Ghielmi is professor at the Conservatorio Luca Marenzio (Brescia) and at Mozarteum in Salzburg and regularly gives master-classes in Academies and Universities all over the world. In the "Politecnico della cultura, delle arti e delle lingue" in Milan, he has organized series of conferences and concerts focused on the early music instrumental techniques and their survival in "ethnic" musical traditions. He has published studies and articles on music and previously unpublished scores (Fuzeau, Minkoff, Ut Orpheus), as well as a method for viola da gamba known thoughout the world (with Paolo Biordi, ed. Ut-Orpheus, Bologna). He is currently publishing a complete edition of Johan Gottlieb Graun's Viola da Gamba concertos and directs the musical research of “Libroforte-Fine Music Editions”. Vittorio Ghielmi plays a bass viol made by Michel Colichon, Paris 1688.