A Contemporary & Classical Music 2021 ORT Debut

John Axelrod conducting the Orchestra della Toscana

The Orchestra della Toscana (ORT) will inaugurate a new season of music at Teatro Verdi (via Ghibellina 99) on October 8 at 9 pm, which includes the start of  the “Voices from Purgatory” (Voci dal Purgatorio) series, conceptualized by the contemporary musician Richard Danielpour.  The “Divine Comedy” inspired work is the first piece on the program, followed by compositions by Dvorak and Schumann.

The concert is being headed by John Axelrod, who has a previous history in the music industry as a rock manager. Following a stint as a wine company director, he began to study classical music under American composer Leonard Bernstein and Russian composer Ilya Musin. Since 1996, Axelrod has conducted over 200 orchestras, 33 operas and 60 world premieres. 

In addition to the orchestra, Axelrod will also guide soloist Enrico Dindo, whose career as a cellist has been ongoing since 1997 after a victory at the Rostropovich competition in Paris. His chamber ensemble, I Solisti di Pavia, of which he is still the current director, was founded in 2001. With both putting together their long history of musical knowledge together, the audience will witness an orchestral performance that derives itself from themes examined in Dante’s Purgatory. 

This orchestral series was composed in the midst of the COVID pandemic from 2020 to 2021, as a dedication to the Italians who have suffered throughout these last couple of years. The link with Dante was made as he also lived through a plague during his lifetime. This created the connection with the second book of the Divine Comedy, Purgatory, as well as falling in line with the 700th anniversary of Dante’s passing, the focus of numerous celebrations this year.

The evening also showcases Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor again featuring Dindo as a soloist, and Symphony No. 4 by Robert Schumann.

Robert Schumann, regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era of music, is one of the main inspirations behind Friday’s inaugural event.  There are two versions of Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, the most commonly heard one being the 1851 revision.  At Teatro Verdi, however, attendees are in for a rare treat: an interpretation of the original 1841 score. Axelrod intends to emphasize the composer’s melancholic style given the atmosphere created by the pandemic.

John Axelrod is American, and the U.S.A. is also where cello concerto on the program was written.  Its composer, Dvorak, lived in New York during the 1890s while he was director of  the National Conservatory of Music of America.

Performances by the Orchestra della Toscana will continue into May 2022. 

For more information on Friday’s concert, as well as booking for this event and all future performances, visit ORT’s website for dates, news and further information on the people behind it. (nelson matos/with additional reporting by rosanna cirigliano)