The story of an all-girl orchestra

One of the most interesting and original episodes in the history of music, the story of the girls’ orphanage Ospedale della Pietà, takes us back 300 years, to a glorious period of the City of Venice and of baroque music.  Not far from the Palace of the Doge of Venice, on Riva degli Schiavoni, there was a building which housed up to 6000 girls – some, truly orphans – others, illegitimate daughters of Venetian nobility and for this reason, not recognized by their own families.

Following a rigorous program of musical education, those who had talent were instructed at the highest level, in order to become first class musicians. Ospedale della Pietà had in those times one of the best and most famous orchestras in Europe. Artists, writers and certainly, many tourists, came to Venice to hear the girls of the Ospedale in concert, the programs composed predominantly of works by Vivaldi.

For 30 years, the “Prete Rosso” (the “Priest with red hair”, Vivaldi’s nickname) served as professor, soloist, and conductor of the girls’ orchestra of the Ospedale, creating most of his works for this ensemble.

300 years later, the Romanian Foundation for Excellence in Music recreates the tradition of Vivaldi’s all-girl orchestra with the musicians of the Foundation – young, talented and beautiful (none of them orphans!) under the leadership of a kindred spirit to Vivaldi – the Venetian virtuoso Giuliano Carmignola, known all over the world as one of the greatest baroque violinists.

The ensemble takes its name from the series of 12 concertos, composed by Vivaldi in 1712, under the title "La Stravaganza"