The ensemble is made up of string players under eighteen years of age, and is a testimony to the quality of the younger players at Brevard. The creation of I Solisti di Brevard was a part of Brevard Music Center’s added emphasis on chamber music and small ensembles. In 2004, Artistic Director David Effron was expanding chamber music activities as a third category, supplementing the existing orchestral and operatic endeavors. As in all activities at Brevard Music Center, the intent is to give young music students a taste of the professional life. The life of a modern serious musician often involves ensembles much smaller than the classic symphony orchestra or even the pit orchestra of an opera house. I Solisti di Brevard not only supplements their experience with larger ensembles, it has become an ensemble of prestige for young string players.
Each summer after three weeks at Brevard Music Center, I Solisti di Brevard musicians are selected through an audition process. The result is a remarkably capable group of twenty to twenty-four players. The shape of a typical orchestra is 6 first violins, 5 second violins, 4 violas, 3 or 4 cellos, 2 double basses and a harpsichord. Each string section is less than half the size of the corresponding section of a symphony orchestra.
I Solisti di Brevard presents a concert of baroque and classical music with a focus on the period of the High German baroque. Past programs have included Alessandro Scarlatti, Arcangelo Corelli, Antonio Vivaldi, Heinrich Ignaz Biber and George Frederick Handel as well as Johann Sebastian Bach. One year the entire program was Bach.
The keyboardist is generally not chosen from the High School Division of the Brevard Music Center. In past years, members of the faculty and talented older BMC students provide that continuo. Various string and keyboard faculty have also soloed with the group, as have vocalists, although some solo parts have been handled by the young members themselves.
This chamber orchestra is made up of the very best string players of high school age who are at Brevard for the summer, and their verve and excitement are palpable. Generally, they are playing “standards” of the baroque repertoire, but they are meeting the works for the first time. You get a demonstration of how exciting great music is to a young mind. Seldom do you get such a fresh look at the works that stand as one of the milestones of Western music.
While large orchestral forces can compete with nature at the outdoor Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium, a chamber orchestra is heard better inside and in a more intimate hall. You will know where to find me on Monday: at the Porter Center cheering on I Solisti di Brevard.