Classic Mornings

Room For More

classic morning logo bird

How many can you name? How many conductors other than Sir Neville Marriner have we enjoyed leading the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields over the years? 

I asked that question at the outset of Classic Mornings on June 5. I’m aware that Sir Neville’s name is most closely associated with the chamber ensemble from England, which he founded in 1958. I reminded listeners of the famous cartoon with a parrot in a living room. A voice on the radio announces music performed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. The parrot immediately adds: “Sir Neville Marriner conducting.” That’s how famous and famously connected with that ensemble Marriner was.

Marriner died in 2016. And I realized that we’ve enjoyed many recordings over the years with the Academy led by other conductors as well. I gave listeners a moment to bring to mind some of those, though I had intended to help them out. All the while I wondered whether the bird might be startled or confused by the mention of the unfamiliar names.

Pianist Murray Perahia is a “Principal Guest Artist” with the ensemble. He has conducted from the keyboard on their recordings of concertos of Johann Sebastian Bach.  

I sometimes play selections featuring violinist Joshua Bell with the Academy, led by Michael Stern, whose father was violinist Isaac Stern. Bell himself went on to become Music Director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. His contract recently was extended to 2028  

And there’s violinist Kenneth Sillito, a long-time member of the group. You’ve heard his name mentioned as conductor from time to time, such as in recorder concertos that feature Michala Petri.

I didn’t forget violinist Iona Brown. I’ll admit that the thought about other conductors of the Academy came to mind because June 5 marked the 20th anniversary of her passing. She led the ensemble on recordings that featured clarinetist Sabine Meyer and guitarist Christopher Parkening, among others.

All of that led to thoughts about another ensemble. You hear me play recordings with the chamber orchestra known as I Solisti Veneti. Perhaps not as popular as the English ensemble, that orchestra has enjoyed international fame since its founding in 1959 in Padua, Italy. The city is located in the region known as Veneto, of which Venice is the capital city.

The name Claudio Scimone was as firmly attached to I Solisti Veneti as Marriner’s to the Academy. In fact, Scimone was at the helm of his orchestra longer than Sir Neville. I remembered that the Italian conductor died in 2018. And I wondered if the orchestra is still around.

According to their home page, I Solisti Veneti is indeed celebrating its 65th anniversary. And conductor Giuliano Carella is celebrating 5 years as Music Director. He’s from Milan. His bio reveals that he’s been a successful opera conductor. I found no listings of recordings with Carella leading the group. So it may be a while before we begin to associate I Solisti Veneti with anybody but Scimone.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the arrival of “the box” that introduced us to a number of 18th century composers. Opening a box can bring about surprises. I already knew what was inside – or so I thought. I was aware that it was a set of 6 CDs, all of which had been released earlier by the ensemble from Cologne known as Concerto Köln.

It turned out to be quite a set, and still is. It includes concertos by the Vivaldi contemporary from Verona:  Evaristo Felice Dall’Abaco. And there are concertos and symphonies by Anton Fils, Christian Cannabich, Leopold Kozeluch and Anton Eberl (Teldec/Warner 2564 69889). I don’t expect you to recognize any of those names. But if you’ve been listening to Classic Mornings, I’m sure you’ve been able to enjoy their music right along with the better-known music of Vivaldi, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Not only did we celebrate 10 years of enjoying the music of those lesser-known composers. We had a triple celebration of an alternate version of Joaquin Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez. The guitar concerto was written 85 years ago. The version for harp, made by Spanish harpist Nicanor Zabaleta, is 50 years old. And the recording of that work featuring the French harpist Isabelle Moretti is 25 years old (Valois/Auvidis/Naïve 4815).

At this time of year, we always make room for an additional New Year’s Eve. We’re close to ringing out the old fiscal year on June 30. Hopefully, we’ll celebrate by reaching our fiscal year-end goal. Even if you’ve waited until just before “New Year’s Eve,” you still can be a part of the celebration of listener-supported classical music on the radio in central Illinois with your gift. Call 217-244-9455 or contribute online at Thank you very much!