As a classical musician, it is very important for me to learn the context and history behind the music I play. I also try to always make a connection with the place where I perform, taking in as much of its surroundings as possible for inspiration and rejuvenation. This is especially the case when I voyaged to the beautiful and incredibly historic land of Italy. On this particular occasion, I was so privileged to be invited to perform in Padova with I Solisti Veneti by their great maestro, Claudio Scimone.
This chamber orchestra has had a rich history itself, dating back several decades ago when it was founded by Maestro Scimone. In fact, I was told that it was to celebrate its 6000th concert coming up soon. Playing Vivaldi, Kreisler, and Ravel with this orchestra, I could really feel its experience and musical force under Maestro Scimone’s direction.
During the concert, it was the first time that I experienced what seemed like an endless round of applause, as I was called back on stage over and over again by the enthusiastic audience who didn’t want to let me leave even after I have performed my third encore. It was very moving to see this wonderful appreciation on their faces after the concert. People there truly love music. I believe this is why they go to concerts, and I could easily imagine this great musical tradition going back hundreds of years to the time of Tartini and Vivaldi.
Aside from practicing and performing, I visited the local civic museum where I saw great masterpieces of art that came from this area, including murano glass pieces, pottery, great renaissance and medieval paintings and of course, frescoes by Giotto. It was all a wonderful sight, to see right in front of me what I have only seen before in books and pictures. I also visited nearby Venice (who wouldn’t?) for a day to experience what this great city is all about. The next time I return to some of my favourite Shakespeare plays, the settings of Padova and Venice will take on special meaning.