Magazine article Gramophone

Orchestra Dell' Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia: Our Monthly Series Telling the Story Behind an Orchestra

Magazine article Gramophone

Orchestra Dell' Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia: Our Monthly Series Telling the Story Behind an Orchestra

Article excerpt

Founded 1908

Home Parco della Musica, Rome

Music Director Sir Antonio Pappano (since 2002)

Honorary Conductor Yuri Temirkanov

What a difference a multi-million euro architectural marvel makes. Before Renzo Piano's Parco della Musica opened, the remit of Italy's five-century-old National Academy of Saint Cecilia had all the lucidity of a Dan Brown novel (and the same tangled links to the papacy). Now, with the help of Piano's building, Romans can literally see this once-elusive organisation for what it is: a research and education institution, a museum and a concert society with Italy's most distinguished symphony orchestra at its heart.

That orchestra sounded for the first time in 1908, four years before Bernardino Molinari began a 32-year stint as its first Music Director. The 20th century was a tough one for the Cecilians. Some historians point to the dichotomy of a symphony orchestra in opera-oriented Italy but the reality was probably more one of insufficient and inconsistent talent on the podium. After two decades of crisis, things began to right themselves with the arrival of Giuseppe Sinopoli as the orchestra's fifth Music Director in 1983.

Daniele Gatti and Myung-Whun Chung were among Sinopoli's successors and each prioritised technique: Gatti obsessing over the beauty of the string sound and Chung honing ensemble in an orchestra that could sound like an assemblage of soloists. Three years after the Parco della Musica flung open its glass doors in 2002, Antonio Pappano arrived as Music Director. …

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