Welcome back, EUBO!By Emilia Campagna
November 25, 2022
After four years of inactivity, EUBO is back!
The European Union Baroque Orchestra was founded in 1985 by Paul James and Emma Wilkinson as a major initiative of European Music Year to celebrate the 300th anniversaries of three great baroque musicians: Johann Sebastian Bach, Domenico Scarlatti and George Friedrich Handel. Since then, it had been the leading training initiative in the field of Historically Informed Performance. The success of the project, under the direction of the world’s leading baroque musicians, could be measured in the number of ex-EUBO members who would play in Europe’s leading baroque orchestras. Then, in 2018, all activities stopped. Now, EUBO starts to play again and moves its headquarters to Italy thanks to the philanthropic and entrepreneurial support of ICONS. We talked with Mario Martinoli, President of ICONS and Founder and Artistic Director of Theresia Orchestra, to know more about this heartwarming story.
Mario Martinoli, after 10 years of the life of Theresia Orchestra, it seems like you started a new adventure, going to the rescue of EUBO: why did you decide to go for this venture?
The reasons are more than one: on one hand, there was the opportunity (EUBO has been inactive for the past four years, and it seemed like no activity was to come), on the other, we wanted to extend the cultural patronage model that gave birth to Theresia Orchestra. Furthermore, many of our musicians demanded to expand the orchestral repertoire to include Baroque music: but Theresia is focused on classical repertoire, and we never intended to change its artistic mission. We realized that EUBO could be the answer to many questions, and we decided to try and restart it.
How come that EUBO stopped its activity?
It was a matter of unfortunate coincidences: first, Brexit compelled Paul James and Emma Wilkinson, founders and managers of EUBO, to move the administrative headquarters (but also the musical archive and the instruments) to a country of the European Community. They moved to Antwerp, Belgium. That was probably a big deal, together with a different system of funding adopted in that years by the European Commission. Then, Covid happened! And it was probably too much.
So what happened? How did you contact EUBO?
The activities were entirely suspended, but the trademark is alive and well, tied to its creator, Paul James, whom I contacted, offering to finance and manage the orchestra. He answered enthusiastically, and we started to work together toward a new beginning.
What will the role of ICONS be, and will there be continuity with the previous management?
ICONS will ensure everything related to organization, financial support and ethics. EUBO becomes part of the European HIP Orchestral System run by ICONS, and in a sense, it is now Theresia Orchestra’s sister. The artistic direction is in my charge, and Paul James assists me as an advisor.
What are the differences and similarities between EUBO and Theresia?
It must be said that we were inspired by EUBO’s training model when we started Theresia, especially with regard to the residencies. That said, apart from the different repertoire, there are some differences: for example, EUBO changes its members every year, whilst Theresia, even organizing annual auditions, gives longer grants, so that the renewal of the organic is more gradual. We have differences also in the auditions: in Theresia, we introduced a first-step selection based on a video, for example. I think we’ll think of all the best practices from each project to improve the management of both orchestras.
EUBO is going to perform under the baton of Alfredo Bernardini in Ravenna: why did you choose this town for this new beginning?
It sort of happened by chance. In June, I called Romano Valentini, artistic director of the “Angelo Mariani Society” that organizes the main concert season in Ravenna, telling him my news about EUBO and us. He was immediately interested and offered to host the orchestra. He managed to involve the city at many levels, including the local administration and important members of the cultural and economic system of this community. I was impressed, that was partly unexpected, and I have reasons to believe that the relationship between EUBO and Ravenna will go further: just for starters, we are going to be in Ravenna for the auditions which will be planned in May 2023.
Speaking of auditions, how did you find the musicians for this kick-off concert?
We didn’t have the time to set up auditions, so we invited members of the last editions of EUBO concerts.
What about the musical program of the concert?
It is a sort of European celebration through baroque music: we are starting with Concerto Grosso op.6 n.4 by Arcangelo Corelli, who by the way was born in Ravenna; then another Concerto Grosso, op.3 n.2 by Georg Friedrich Haendel, a composer who moved from Germany to London after having been in Italy for some years; we will hear Hypochondrie ZWV 187 by Jan Dismas Zelenka, whose Bohemian roots were transplanted in Dresden, Germany. The concert will end with Ouverture Suite BWV 1066 by Johann Sebastian Bach, who from Germany looks to Italy and France.
What are the next steps?
Apart from the auditions, we are working on a residency in Belgium in October 2023. We are thinking of Antwerp as a venue for residencies, considering the strong connection with EUBO, but we are still working on it, so stay tuned for more news to come soon.
Ten years ago, you would say that you had founded an orchestra instead of buying a Ferrari. To keep the equation, if Theresia is a Ferrari, EUBO is….
A vintage luxury car: it has a glorious past, but has been still for a while, closed in a garage. We want to get the engine back to its perfection and put it back on the road!