Baroque ensemble heads to Italy

By Krystal Lau, Staff–

The Stradivarius Museum. The Roman Arena. The hometown of Romeo and Juliet. The Davis High Baroque Ensemble is heading to Italy this summer for a chance to personally observe the traditional heritage their ensemble was born from. As many students’ first time traveling to Europe, the trip offers an exciting array of cultural and musical opportunities.

Junior Linda Li looks forward to playing in several concerts as a part of the American Celebration of Music Festival in Italy. Her first time in Europe, she will experience the cities of Milan, Cremona, Verona, Venice, Montecatini, Florence, Orvieto, Rome and Palestrina all in ten days and eight nights.

“I’m really excited just to get to experience the unique culture and history of the place. I’ve always wanted to visit Europe in general,” Li said.

Copious amounts of preparation for the trip include outside and in-class rehearsals and concerts.

“We get a chance to learn and perform the music we’ll get to play while on tour,” Li said. “I’m looking forward to getting to play in all these famous cathedrals as well as sightsee.”

Along with performing in concerts and practicing their music, the orchestra will also sightsee in La Scala, the Vatican City, Florence, Juliet’s balcony, Academy of Fine Arts, Palace of the Doges, Barberini Palace and the Pantheon. Events include visiting the the Sistine Chapel, Bell Tower, Michelangelo’s original ‘David’, and attending a Parmesan tasting.

However, Baroque conductor Angelo Moreno has not planned simply a vacation of exploring and shopping. The orchestra will also participate in an afternoon workshop with Marco Fracassi and perform in a shared concert with the orchestra of the “Claudio Monteverdi” Music Institute for Academic Studies of Cremona. A balanced mix of tourist activities and music- the trip offers a variety that will suit any individual’s interests.

According the Moreno, the ensemble has been preparing for over a year and a half. Practicing songs while simultaneously fundraising, the Baroque’s fundraising pool was about 35,000 dollars. They have been raising money since last summer, and their final fundraiser will be held from 5 pm to 8 pm on May 10. They hope to raise up to 10,000 dollars.

“Taste of Baroque will help us get over the finish line for all the students to be able to attend the trip. We’ve been preparing not just musically but through fundraising,” Moreno said.

The Baroque ensemble has advanced astoundingly quickly in the past few weeks, fueled by influential events such as prominent violinist Rachel Barton Pine’s concert. Moreno states that the group is currently at its highest-level performance since the Baroque’s founding five years ago.

“For me, its been exciting to work musically for the trip because by the time we go to Italy we’re going to be at the highest level musically we’ve been all year. So events like Rachel Barton Pine concert was groundbreaking for the program. Having such an awesome violinist, one of the top 1 percent players of the world come in to play with the group really brought the group up to the next level in its ability,” Moreno said. “By the time we get there I think the most exciting part will be taking a talented group and performing at these world class venues.”

The historical significance of the trip isn’t disregarded by Moreno either. He believes that personally seeing some of the birthplaces of music and the culture of the violin will have an enormous impact on the students.

“We get to go to Cremona where the violin was invented to, to visit Vivaldi’s orphanage where he taught high school and junior high school girls and wrote a lot of his music for those young players to play. And that orphanage is still standing and next to it is this amazing cathedral that we’re going to perform in. We’re also going to the hometown of Palestrina, who was an amazing composer who broke Renaissance music, Moreno said. “And then we’re visiting all the normal sites you would go to see. But we’re not just touring through those places; we’re performing in all those beautiful cathedrals in various cities.”

For junior Emmett Barnes, his anticipation for the trip cannot be exaggerated. As his first time in Europe, he hopes to learn about the history of classical music in Europe.

“History and culture have always been interesting to me,” Barnes said. “I hopes to see how Baroque music has evolved over centuries to what we play today. I also want to learn more about the rich background of Italy and its various composers, musicians, and even violinmakers like Stradivari.”

Barnes lists the prep for any school trip as extensive.

“In addition to the scheduling, planning and packing, there’s also a huge amount of music we’ve been preparing over the course of this entire school year. We will be performing in some of the greatest cathedrals and performance halls in Italy and in most of the world, so the preparation musically for this trip has probably been the most strenuous but also the most necessary,” Barnes said.

Though the work is tough, he keeps no regrets. Grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Barnes has added to his excitement by looking through pictures of the venues they will be performing in, which he calls “breathtaking”.

“I think the trip will be an extremely rewarding experience for our entire class and I really appreciate everything that’s gone toward making this trip possible for us,” Barnes said. “I am looking forward to learning about Italy and the amazing history it has to offer! I’m excited to see [our venues] all in person. And I am just looking forward to walking around and experiencing a culture and a way of life that’s foreign and unfamiliar.”

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