A Trio of Women Conductors at ORT

The new ORT conductors: Beatrice Venezi, Eva Ollikainen and Nil Venditti

A woman has been appointed conductor and two women principal guest conductors of the prestigious ORT (Orchestra della Toscana). ORT artistic director Giorgio Battistelli went on record to say “to put things into perspective, if three men had been chosen, it would be taken for granted and not make headlines.”

The 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Orchestra della Toscana will be celebrated in 2020 with a series of important changes with a view towards new artistic horizons.  In May, after many years of happy collaboration, the current music director, Daniele Rustioni, is leaving the position he has held since 2011. Taking his place will be the 37-year-old Finnish conductor Eva Ollikainen.  She made her debut with the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Royal Danish Opera and the ORT in 2019. She has also been nominated for the upcoming season as Musical and Artistic director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and in 2018 was given the position of Principal Conductor at the Nordic Symphony in Sweden.  At the November 22 press conference, Ollikainen said that she accepted the position “with pleasure” and that “the orchestra’s collective nature is very different than those in Northern Europe: it is very passionate.”

Two more positions have been granted as Principal Guest Conductor for two young Italian women, Beatrice Venezi and Nil Venditti. Venezi, 29, is from Lucca, and already has a busy international career, conducting in Japan, Canada, Armenia, Argentina and the USA. This fall she recorded a CD with the ORT of symphonic works by Puccini.

Venditti is the youngest of the three at just 24. Trained as a cellist at the Conservatory of Perugia, she received her diploma in conducting from the Conservatory of L’Aquila. Winner of the 2015 “Claudio Abbado” National Conducting Competition, in January she will also begin a position as assistant to Paavo Jarvi at the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich.

Lorenza Borrani will take on the role as Artist in Residence. A Florentine native, she is a violin soloist, conductor, concertmaster and chamber musician who performs regularly in various international orchestras and ensembles. Born in ‘83, she studied violin at the Cherubini Conservatory of Florence and the Fiesole Music School.  Finally, as Honorary Conductor, James Conlon will direct two productions with the ORT in the next two years.  Since his debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1974, he has conducted the greatest orchestras all over the world. Since 2006 he is the director of the Los Angeles Opera and in 2016 he was nominated Principal Conductor of Turin’s Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI. He has devoted himself to raising public awareness of conductors whose lives and works were affected by the Holocaust, and programs this music whenever possible. (anne lokken)