Opter Ensemble: why? Many people try to find in the word “Opter” anagrams of our names, acronyms or other things, but this name comes very simply from the Paleovenetian denomination of the place to which all three of us are particularly bound, Oderzo: a small town, not far from Venice, with very ancient origins. Its Paleovenetian name was Obterg, and in the Roman era it became Opitergium. Since our group is a trio that was founded around Johannes Brahms’ op.40 that’s how a pun led us to Opter: a single word that contains our land (Oderzo), our number (“ter”) and our musical beginning (Brahms’ “op.” 40). We also thought that it would be more correct to consider ourselves as an ensemble, because our group can vary depending on the occasion, narrowing to the duo horn and piano, or violin and piano, or joining larger formations.
We’ve played together for several years, and we’ve known each other even longer.
The background where we met was the Fondazione Santa Cecilia in Portogruaro, which is famous for its summer courses and for the festival “Estate musicale a Portogruaro”. Those were years of growth and study for all of us, and we got into touch with world-famous conductors, soloists and chamber music players; we drew and learnt a lot from them. The friendship between us was born in those years, and it soon became a reason to spend time together, both free and musical time, and it was in one of our party days that we decided to rehearse Brahms, his op. 40, for the first time: we immediately acknowledged a syntony between us. We started our careers and at the same time we started playing together.
Guglielmo was beginning to play in the orchestra as first horn, at the beginnig at the Teatro Verdi of Trieste, then at La Scala in Milan and finally in Rome in the “Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia”; meanwhile, Francesco was playing in the “Solisti di Pavia Orchestra” and he became soon member of the Venice Baroque Orchestra, while Federico began to teach at the Conservatory (Venice, Trento and finally Udine) beside his piano career as both a chamber musician and as a soloist with many orchestras. In the same time Francesco and Federico began dealing with the repertoire for violin and piano duo as pupils of the “Trio di Parma” at the “Scuola internazionale di musica da camera” in Duino, while Guglielmo and Federico were into the French horn and piano duo, with a deep research work that led them to the album “French Music for horn and piano” published by Audite!.
The first trio concert came shortly thereafter, in an unexpected way: Francesco and Federico were planning to play a concert in Venice, playing music for violin, clarinet and piano, but they had to replace the clarinetist and we thought that it was a very good opportunity to debut with the Brahms’ trio, inserting it into a programme that opened with pieces for duo; after the break, all three of us were together on the stage for the first time. It was October 9th, 2009 and we were in the concert hall of the Conservatory “B. Marcello” in Venice, the same hall where Francesco and Federico had graduated a few years earlier. It was a nice “first time”, no doubt funny, and after that day new ideas blossomed and the ensemble took its shape.
The trio’s activity began concert seasons in northern Italy, and one day Francesco got a phone call from Rome: it was the CIDIM (Italian National Committee for Music) that announced him that we were selected for a project sponsored by the “Fondazione Friuli” with the aim of launching young chamber music groups. It was an extremely important step to us: it allowed us to get in touch with many concert halls all over the world, we became more known and we increased our activity with Italian tours, and concerts in Germany, Sweden, Albania, Turkey, Japan and Chile.
The greatest masterpieces for trio horn, violin and piano are two: in addition to Johannes Brahms’ trio, there is also the György Ligeti’s work. This milestone of the repertoire was composed in the 1980s and the inspiration is clear from the very title of the Opera: “Hommage à Brahms”. It’s a piece with enormous difficulties, both technical and musical, for either the individual parts and the ensemble, and although the score initially seemed as an unconquerable fortress, we couldn’t help facing it. We waited for the right moment, with the score always on the music stand to remind us the challenge, and the challenge once undertaken required hours and hours of study, both individual and for the group, and it took us to a second Venetian debut, as it was for Brahms: we performed the Ligeti’s trio in the marvelous “Sale Apollinee” of the Teatro la Fenice in a concert dedicated to the memory of the Hungarian composer, ten years after his death.
Gradually our repertoire was enriched with new music composed by authors who, like Ligeti, wanted to deal with this particular and poorly-exploited formation: we have thus had the opportunity to world premiere the trios by Francesco Schweizer, Gianluca Cascioli, And Mario Pagotto. We also commissioned arrangements of pieces from the symphonic repertoire, like the Serenade op. 11 by Brahms and R. Strauss’s poem by “Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche” op. 28 arranged for us by Daniele Zanettovich and Francesca Francescato.
Over the years, the bond between us have become more and more tight, and it is also thanks to the long time spent together sharing common passions, like going skiing or running (Francesco and Guglielmo also raced a marathon together), or the Risiko! and the fabulous “Argentinian’s barbecues”, and when we are together it is impossible to us to distinguish work from leisure, because the two activities are now merged: a rehearsal always becomes the opportunity for a lunch with our families and vice versa from a day of together we always find some time for music.
Guglielmo Pellarin, horn
Francesco Lovato, violin
Federico Lovato, piano