The Mainzer Virtuosi is a young chamber orchestra ensemble founded in 2007 and based in the Rhineland of Germany. The orchestra consists of talented Canadians and Europeans in their transitional period between study and professional life.
The orchestra was created by Professor Anne Shih, the Artistic Director of the Casalmaggiore Festival in Italy and Norfolk Concerts in the UK, as well as Professor of Violin at the Hochschule of Mainz. She has an international reputation as pedagogue, teacher, and performer, and was herself a pupil and assistant of the legendary Josef Gingold. Recognised as one of the finest teachers and performers in the world, she both coaches and directs the orchestra, which normally plays without a conductor.
The soloists performing with the orchestra are mainly drawn from the orchestra itself, and this produces a very collegiate and unique environment, and inspires both the players and audiences.
Since its founding, the ensemble has received international acclaim for its dynamic, serious and dedicated performances of outstanding quality, and for its innovative programming. The ensemble has, in such a short time, achieved an international reputation, serving as the Orchestra-in-Residence of the MING Connection Mainz; of Norfolk Concerts in England; and at the Casalmaggiore International Festival in Italy. In autumn, the orchestra will be recording its first CD, the contrast of the 4 Seasons by both Vivaldi and Piazzolla.
A recent development is a focus on new music and modern repertoire, particularly as to those works composed in the countries from which the members originate.They have begun a successful foray into modern European classical music, as well as the discovery of music not yet performed, such as the chamber works of Anthony Scott (pupil and protégé of Vaughn-Williams and Gerald Finzi), and Douglas Gowan of Norfolk Concerts recently commissioned the award-winning British composer Peter Seabourne to write a cello string quintet for its members. The first performance was recently held in Mainz, with further performances at the CIME: Contemporary International Musical Exchange; a 4 day new music event being held during the Casalmaggiore International Festival this July. The Canadian composer Brent Lee has also been commissioned by Megumi Masaki and the E. Gre Competition to write a work for Quartet and String Orchestra for the Canadian Borealis Quartet, in conjunction with the Mainzer Virtuosi. This work will also be performed at the CIME event.
The members of the MVCO are also dedicated to outreach programs, and in particular the bringing of new music to schools. Most of their outreach work is currently undertaken in England due to the majority of English-speaking members. So far, they have been involved with 11 schools across Norfolk, in England
With these and other exciting projects, the Mainzer Virtuosi will provide innovative concerts, often including new music, to a community, and wherever possible, also provide further music education within that community.
It is the combination of outreach with music making of the highest quality that sets the MVCO and its members apart from several other very successful youth orchestras that have appeared in recent years, and the combination of old traditions with modern practice and the promotion of new music is a joyful experience for players and audience alike.