The Orchestra Mozart was conceived by Carlo Maria Badini as a special project of the Philharmonic Academy of Bologna, thanks to a decisive contribution from the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio of Bologna (the Bologna Savings Bank Foundation), which gave its enthusiastic support on the initiative of its President, Fabio Roversi-Monaco.
Claudio Abbado, who became Artistic Director of the orchestra, outlined its profile, inviting internationally-renowned instrumentalists such as Giuliano Carmignola, Danusha Waskiewicz, Wolfram Christ, Enrico Bronzi, Mario Brunello, Alois Posch, Jacques Zoon, Alessandro Carbonare and Alessio Allegrini to play with the orchestra. They were joined by about forty young musicians from all over Europe (Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Norway, Finland, Hungary and Russia).
The Orchestra Mozart made its debut on 4 November 2004 at the Manzoni Theatre in Bologna, conducted by Claudio Abbado. Since then other great conductors have led the orchestra, such as John Eliot Gardiner, Ottavio Dantone, Trevor Pinnock and Frans Brüggen. There have been guest pianists including Alfred Brendel, Alexander Lonquich, Radu Lupu and the very young Yuja Wang. The orchestra has also enjoyed performances from soloists such as Reinhold Friedrich on the trumpet and Michala Petri on the recorder, as well as renowned singers including Mariella Devia, Rachel Harnisch, Jonas Kaufmann, Sara Mingardo and René Pape.
On October 25, 2008 at PalaDozza in Bologna, the Orchestra Mozart played a memorable performance of Te Deum by Berlioz, together with the Cherubini Youth Orchestra, the Italian Youth Orchestra, the Choir of the Municipal Theatre of Bologna and the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi. The impressive choir of treble voices was made up of more than six hundred children. Claudio Abbado was the driving force behind this concert, welcoming the appeal of the National Committee for music education in schools, as the concert became a way of raising awareness about this important aspect of cultural policy. During the first part of the performance, Roberto Benigni interpreted Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev, which was recently released on DVD (Melampo).
On June 13, 2009, at the Auditorium of the Guardia di Finanza (Finance Police) School in Coppito (AQ), Claudio Abbado and the Orchestra Mozart dedicated a concert to the people of Abruzzo affected by the earthquake. At the same time, they also promoted the “Orchestra Mozart for Abruzzo. Una Casa per la Musica” (A house for music) initiative, to raise funds for the creation of a structure in which all the musical organisations of L’Aquila can resume their activities immediately.
The Orchestra Mozart promotes interaction in the musical and social fabric of Bologna and the whole of the Emilia-Romagna region. Special concerts and dress rehearsals are reserved for Third Sector associations (more than 50 organisations have special arrangements with the orchestra), and students, as part of the educational series “A Journey into the History of Music”, promoted by the Philharmonic Academy, which more than one thousand young people take part in each year. Claudio Abbado has also established various initiatives involving organisations such as Caritas, the Young Offenders’ Institute and local prisons.
The Orchestra Mozart has also created a project which links music and welfare, known as TAMINO - Terapie e Attività Musicali INnovative Oggi (Innovative Music Therapy and Activities Today), which organises activities led by music therapists and musical game workshops run by musicians from the Orchestra.
Recordings, with Claudio Abbado as conductor, include W.A. Mozart’s Concertos for violin and orchestra, interpreted by Giuliano Carmignola, as well as a set of W.A. Mozart’s symphonies, recorded live (Arkiv-Deutsche Grammophon, 2008). The three concertos of the “Pergolesi Project”, recorded between 2007 and 2009, with the participation of the singers Sara Mingardo, Rachel Harnisch, Julia Kleiter and Veronica Cangemi, as well as the Coro della Radio Svizzera, conducted by Diego Fasolis (Deutsche Grammophon), will be released shortly. The DVD of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos (BWV 1046-1051) (Medici Arts, 2008), won the 2009 National Prize for a Classical Music Disc.