Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra to unveil new collaboration with Conservatory of Siena

by Jordan McDonald | 9/26/17 12:00am

A staple of the Upper Valley music scene, the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra, comprised of Dartmouth students and local instrumentalists, is a major attraction for the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth during the fall, winter and spring. This fall, the orchestra, committed to evolution, will embark on a collaborative partnership with the world-renowned Italy-based Conservatory of Siena, its students and its teachers. 

This DSO-Siena collaboration will first be showcased Oct. 28 in a DSO performance that will feature acclaimed guest flutist Luciano Tristaino. The next on-campus showcase will be in February of 2018 and will feature guest mandolinist Carlo Aonzo. 

In December 2018, the DSO will travel abroad for an Italian tour with the Conservatory of Siena, making for a fully immersive musical collaboration. Bringing together highly-skilled musicians from Dartmouth and the Conservatory, this partnership will involve touring, master classes and chamber music groups. 

Filippo Ciabatti, the conductor and music director of the DSO, explained that he intends for this partnership as well as the international tour — the orchestra’s first tour under his direction — to bring about a true exchange. 

Noting that music is “the universal language,” Ciabatti said that he believes the partnership will result in a “full immersion into a cultural exchange with people of another country and of another culture.” 

Neerja Thakkar ’19, a violinist and student manager who joined the DSO during her freshman fall, expressed excitement about the collaboration and the interest Ciabatti has taken in ensuring members get the most out of the experience. 

“He cares a lot about what’s best for the orchestra,” Thakkar said. “He’s very dedicated to making it the best it can be musically and the best experience it can be for everyone. As part of planning the tour, he was hoping that it would be a really fun experience and it would make us better musicians, and it would allow us to enjoy ourselves while also gaining a lot of skills from going abroad and working with other people.”

An Italian musician himself, Ciabatti noted that his own heritage played a part in the collaboration. 

“I had connections with the Conservatory of Siena from my career and my Italian heritage,” he said. 

Ciabatti explained that he hopes the experience will “help us to build a broader reputation with that orchestra and excite the students with new opportunities that go beyond the Upper Valley.” 

While the seniors in the orchestra will graduate before the Italian tour portion of the partnership, the younger and newer members of the ensemble look forward to what the international component will bring to their experience. 

“I think that DSO is a really strong community, so just getting to be with fellow DSO members for that period of time will be really fun,” Thakkar said. “I think that it will be great to see what music is like in other countries because music in some ways is universal but in other ways, it will be interesting to see how they do things. Getting to immerse myself in music for those two weeks will be amazing.”  

Ultimately, the hope is that this partnership will impact not only members of the DSO and the Conservatory of Siena but also the Upper Valley and the Dartmouth community as a whole. 

“I am proud, and all of us are proud, to share with the community the opportunity to basically see our progress and the fact that this orchestra is gaining an international profile,” Ciabatti said. “We want to bring the quality that we brought here at Dartmouth somewhere else in the world, and we want to expose the students that are here and very involved and very committed to the orchestra here at Dartmouth to more high-level musical opportunities.”

The first performance of the partnership will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 8 p.m.