I Musici

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One ensemble, 12 musicians and over 60 years of making history – I Musici is the world’s oldest active chamber music group and will be performing at the George Town Festival 2013 next month. The story of I Musici began in Rome in 1952 as a modest chamber music ensemble brought together by a common love of Italian classical music. In 1955 they recorded Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which created unprecedented interest. To date, over 25 million copies of I Musici’s recording of Four Seasons (in various editions) have been sold, making it the most commercially successful piece of classical music recording ever.

Some of the ensemble’s founding members continued to perform with I Musici for several decades, even as new faces were introduced into the fold. As the ensemble evolved, so did its ambitions, and in the 1970s they created musical history by recording the first ever classical music video, followed shortly by the first ever classical music compact disc for Phillips, thus unleashing their music talents on a whole new generation of aficionados.

Today, three out of the 12 musicians have been with I Musici since the 1970s, resulting in that trio alone having over a hundred years of combined experience playing with the ensemble! And while I Musici has been known to collaborate with the odd rock musician, the primary repertoire remains classical music.

Buccarella Francesco, who plays the harpsichord with the chamber music group, notes that their audience’s tastes have changed over the years, and therefore the challenge is to keep their traditional audience happy, while encouraging a new generation of music lovers to venture into concert halls. And while they vary their repertoire every so often, there are some things that their fans have come to expect of them.

“It’s true that Four Seasons represents something special for us,” said Francesco, whose mother, Maria Teresa Garatti, is a founding member of I Musici. “One of the older members once calculated that he must have played the Four Seasons more than 3,000 times during the first 50 years of I Musici!”

Silvio Di Rocco who plays the viola and is the sole female member, shared that the ensemble is really looking forward to its maiden performance at the George Town Festival.

“It’s our first time in Malaysia. Every time we go to a place we’ve never been before it’s a great emotion for us. We feel like kids entering a new school: lots of things to learn, new friends to meet. It’s exciting. I hope the audience will feel the same positive emotions that we feel when we are on stage,” she enthused.

Her sentiment was echoed by Antonio Anselmi and Gianluca Apostoli, both of whom have played the violin for a decade now with the ensemble. “We are thrilled to play for the first time in Malaysia. It’s a great honour for us to be invited to Penang to perform for the George Town Festival. We hope that the public will appreciate our music coming from a different culture. We’ll put in all our energy and passion to involve them. It’ll be a great experience.”

And as if making musical history wasn’t quite enough, I Musici is a conductorless ensemble, and has always been such. The ensemble is convinced that there isn’t a secret formula to its harmony and longevity, just committed individuals taking responsibility for their share of the work, be it artistic decisions or concert schedules. And it serves them well, for I Musici is easily one of the more popular highlights of music festivals globally.

In 2012 they played a memorable tour of Australia and then crossed over to New Zealand for the first time ever. More recently, they completed a tour of America and in October 2013 they will return to Japan for a staggering 25th time.

But before that, the rousing sounds of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and much more from I Musici’s extensive classical music repertoire will be coming to Penang for the George Town Festival 2013. Mark your calendars now!



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