LES MUSICIENNES DU LE CONCERT DES NATIONS
Vivaldi Academy – Ospedale della Pietà
A tribute to the female musicians of the Ospedale della Pietà
in the age of Vivaldi
The creation of LES MUSICIENNES DU LE CONCERT DES NATIONS – VIVALDI ACADEMY was inspired by the musical activities of the famous Ospedale della Pietà in Venice. Founded as a convent in 1346, it initially served as a hostel for Crusaders, and, like other ospedali, in the following centuries it became a charitable institution offering refuge to orphaned and abandoned girls. A convent, an orphanage for girls and a school, it was also a place where the girls studied music from a very early age and engaged in important musical activities under the direction of the best Venetian musicians of the day. During the 17th century, the various ospedali in Venice gained a reputation for the musical performances of their soloists, choirs and orchestras – all students of the institution. Many of their concerts were performed exclusively before a select audience made up of distinguished visitors. As la Pietà gained prestige thanks to the quality of the musical training that it provided, it began to receive children related (whether legitimately or illegitimately) to noble families. In the final decades of the Venetian Republic, the Ospedale also accepted young female music students who paid for their lodging and schooling. Thanks to the quality of their exceptional musical performances, during the 17th and 18th centuries the orchestra and choir of the Ospedale enjoyed great prestige, especially during the years when they were directed by Antonio Vivaldi.
Thanks to the numerous auditions held to select candidates for our Professional Development Academies (which, together with Le Concert des Nations, we have organized every year since 2019) and thanks also to the work carried out during the academies, in that time we have been able to incorporate many excellent female musicians in the major symphonic programs we have carried out up to 2022, as well as those scheduled in forthcoming seasons. Today, the majority of these performers have joined our female orchestra project, which consists of women under the age of 39 who pay tribute to the young musicians of Venice’s Ospedale della Pietà and their master, the incomparable Antonio Vivaldi.
In this first program featuring The Four Seasons and other concerti by Vivaldi, we honour the memory of Vivaldi, that magnificent composer, violinist and teacher, who in his day was chiefly responsible for the excellence and success of the orchestra of the Ospedale della Pietà.
LES MUSICIENNES DU LE CONCERT DES NATIONS – VIVALDI ACADEMY embarks on its journey as an ensemble of twenty highly talented young musicians from eight different countries: England, Austria, Spain, France, Hungary, Poland, Russia and Japan, comprising eighteen string instruments: 9 violins, 4 viols, 3 cellos and 2 double basses, accompanied by the chitarrone/guitar and the harpsichord, and Laura Aubert as reciter in the Four Seasons. The great majority have already had the experience of taking part in Le Concert des Nations’ major symphonic projects since 2019, performing works by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Mendelssohn.
In this project, our orchestra will be led by the outstanding soloist and violin virtuoso of Tartar origin, Alfia Bakieva, and myself, as we guide the ensemble towards the goal of excellence, discovery and shared experience. This new musical Ospedale of the 21st century aims to follow the example of that group of young female singers and musicians of the old Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, creating a new and exclusively female space, which will provide a forum for study, respectful dialogue, professional development and dissemination of a repertory spanning from the pre-Vivaldi era to the dawn of Romanticism (1600-1850).
Enjoying the inestimable support of the European Commission, the DRAC of Occitanie (Occitan Regional Directorate for Cultural Affairs, French Ministry of Culture), the Department of Culture of the Generalitat of Catalonia and the Barcelona Regional Council, the aim of LES MUSICIENNES DU LE CONCERT DES NATIONS – VIVALDI ACADEMY is to welcome each year the best female musicians specialising in period instruments from countries across Europe and around the world who wish to share and disseminate the European musical heritage at all levels of our society, with a special focus on young people and social minorities.
Bellaterra, 2nd November, 2023