Urbino Musica Antica 2022
/// Historical "Viola da braccio"
Period: 23th - 30th July
The class aims to address a theme that has been decidedly neglected by the teaching of ancient music, such as the performance practice of the viola da braccio over the centuries, its peculiarities, and the path of its progressive emancipation and specialization towards the violin.
The program will focus on the study and research of the original solo, chamber and ensemble repertoire for viola da braccio, starting from the Baroque style to arrive at the Classical one, and will deepen the history of period treatises.
Together with the study of the repertoire, fundamental executive aspects will be addressed such as the practice of “playing the middle parts”, through the development of tonal versatility, the sensitivity for a type of “harmonic” intonation, and the use of the bow as a means of expression par excellence.
Italian violist Stefano Marcocchi is known for his wide-ranging, dynamic artistic approach on both historical and modern instruments, and he’s equally in demand as principal violist, chamber musician, and teacher. He was born in Parma in 1974 where he studied at the “A. Boito” Conservatory graduating cum laude; there he developed an interest in the Historically Informed Performance of early music.
Immediately after his studies, by the age of only 22, Stefano started to collaborate as the youngest ever principal violist of the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, and he has covered the same role with some of the foremost Italian orchestras as like the Orchestra da Camera di Mantova, the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini.
From 1998 till 2005 he was a member of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra serving frequently as assistant principal, and principal violist under conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Harding, Kurt Masur, Christopher Hogwood, Mark Minkowski, Trevor Pinnock, Paavo Jarvi, and Andras Schiff. Stefano was also invited by Claudio Abbado to join the Orchestra Mozart and the celebrated Lucerne Festival Orchestra.
He is a founding member of AleaEnsemble, a Swiss-Italian period instruments string quartet that specializes in the classical and early romantic repertoire. Their debut recording of the complete String Quartets, op.2 of Luigi Boccherini was awarded the Diapason d’Or and the Choc du Monde de la Musique, and Diapason magazine has described them as “le quatuor boccherinien de notre temps”.
His partnership with Zefiro and Alfredo Bernardini, and with Europa Galante and Fabio Biondi, which started at the beginning of the 2000s, led him to play extensively as principal viola and soloist in Europe, America, Asia, and Australia, and to be integral in creating over 30 award winning recordings with these groups, including Telemann’s viola Concerto as a soloist, and the complete Brandenburg Concertos.
His regular collaboration as leader of the viola section with Les Talens Lyriques culminated in 2015, when he acted as concertmaster under the direction of Christophe Rousset at the performance and world- premiere recording of E.N.Mehul’s “Uthal”, a rare opera composed in 1806 in which the violas take the place of the violins as upper instruments in the strings section.
From 2014 till 2017 Stefano was co-principal violist of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Canada’s internationally acclaimed period instruments ensemble; his Toronto debut as a soloist in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante along with violinist Julia Wedman and Tafelmusik was praised by The Globe and Mail for its “full-out, passionate reading, lush, sensitive take on the piece, life, and energy”.
He has also collaborated, since its foundation, as leader of the viola section with the ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro.
Other noteworthy collaborations include Accademia Bizantina, Balthasar Neumann Ensemble, I Barocchisti, Il Complesso Barocco, Concerto Italiano, Ensemble Aurora, Il Giardino Armonico and numerous chamber music projects alongside performers such as Stanley Ritchie, Giuliano Carmignola, Gaetano Nasillo, Dorothee Oberlinger , Maurice Steger and Quatuor Cambini-Paris.
Aside from his two different solo recordings of Telemann’s viola Concerto – the first with Ensemble Cordia (Brilliant Classics), and the second with Europa Galante (Label Agogique), for which Diapason magazine praised for his “jeu suave” – he can be heard on over 80 recordings for Aparte, Arcana, Arkiv Produktion, Deutsche Grammophon, Dynamic, Erato, Glossa, Harmonia Mundi, Naive, Naxos, Passacaille, Stradivarius, Sony, and Virgin Classics.
In 2011 Stefano was invited to play the 1774 “Berta-Salabue II” viola at the exhibition in Parma marking G.B.Guadagnini’s 300th anniversary, and in 2014 he participated at the publication of the book “The Girolamo Amati Viola in the Galleria Estense” (reviewed by The Strad Magazine as “surely the most comprehensive technical account ever published about a historical stringed instrument”), recording pieces by D.Gabrielli and A.Rolla on this 1628 unique instrument.
He taught baroque and classical viola at the Akademie fur Alte Musik in Bruneck from 2006 to 2014, then he was Guest Lecturer Professor of baroque viola at the University of Toronto, and he’s currently teacher of baroque viola at the “E. F. Dall’Abaco” Conservatory of Verona. Since 2021 he has held a historical viola da braccio class at “Urbino Musica Antica”.