Maddalena Bortot

Meet Theresia: Maddalena Bortot

By Emilia Campagna

April 3, 2024

Maddalena Bortot is a young Italian violinist who recently joined Theresia. Let’s find out more about her in this interview!

Maddalena, tell us how you started to play the violin and how you decided to devote yourself to the period instrument.

I have been playing the violin since I was 10, although my first instrument was the guitar: but we had a violin at home and I always had it in my hand and tried to play it myself. Recognizing my passion, my parents enrolled me in a music school. At the end of secondary school I decided to devote myself entirely to music and moved to Bolzano to study at the Conservatory. I followed the three-year course for the first degree in modern violin with Paolo Zordanazzo. To tell you the truth, I immediately started poking around in everything that was going on in the Early Music department. By taking part in numerous projects, I discovered my deep affinity for the repertoire and the way I had to approach it. So upon completing the three-year course in modern violin, I embarked on another three-year course focused on baroque violin, and I am currently studying in Bolzano under Barbara Altobello.

Last January, you attended our auditions in Paris: how did you decide to take part? And how did you find out about Theresia Orchestra?

I heard about Theresia through a friend, Matylda Adamus, a cellist I met in Bolzano. She was the one who told me about the orchestra. Strangely enough, although I was born and raised in Rovereto, where Theresia has performed several times, I had never heard of it! In any case, having missed the opportunity to attend an audition, I didn’t miss it this year: it was really worth the trip to Paris!

What was it like to take part in the auditions? Apart from being selected, how would you rate the experience?

Everything was very positive. The auditions I had taken part in before just consisted of preparing a video. For Theresia, however, I first had to learn a Beethoven quartet (plus both violin parts), which was a completely different approach to playing a series of orchestral passages. In addition, the real challenge was to play with complete strangers, musicians from all over the world, communicating in a language that we all use, English, which may not be the first language for everyone: because to put a quartet together you have to talk as well as play! Finally, I also played in different ensembles, one day the first violin part, the next day the second violin part. It was really two days of full immersion! For me, it was particularly inspiring because I am still a newcomer to performing on historical instruments and it is not so common for me to have the opportunity to hear so many other young musicians live, with their different experiences and sensibilities.

Awesome. So the auditions went so well that you were selected to take part in the first residency of the year. How did it go and what was it like to work with Alfredo Bernardini?

It was a wonderful experience. I had never played the ‘Last Words of Christ’ by Haydn and I must say it was a challenge to perform. Working with Bernardini was particularly pleasant because he created such a good group atmosphere. To give just one example of his attitude, he called us all by name, which is not something you take for granted from a director. Then he managed to work us through such a demanding piece while keeping the atmosphere positive and relaxed: fatigue was inevitable, but it was accompanied by great satisfaction.

How did the concerts go from your point of view?

It is difficult to compare them because we played in very different places in terms of acoustics. In Lodi we played in a church with very generous acoustics. In Rovereto, we played in a much drier concert hall, but this did not affect the quality. Finally, in Ravenna, again in a church: in this case, the performance was more demanding because the pieces alternated with reflections by the Bishop of Ravenna, which were much longer than the readings in the first two concerts. In this case, maintaining concentration definitely proved to be more challenging.

What are your plans for the next few months?

I will be playing again with Theresia at the concerts in Slovenia in October. I also have many engagements with ensembles within the Conservatoire and with some baroque orchestras I work with such as the Ensemble Cordia and the Ensemble Labirinti Armonici from Trento which is led by Andrea Ferroni, who is my first violin teacher.

Do you have any hobbies or does music fill your days completely?

I have a few hobbies that are very important to me! I read a lot, and then I go swimming, which helps me keep in shape, as well as longboarding, which I do on the cycle paths in Bolzano: movement is essential for me to keep in shape, both physically and mentally.

You live in Bolzano, an Italian city with Austrian and German connections: do you like this dimension?

Bolzano offers a very high quality of life, a lively cultural life and the opportunity to get in touch with nature. However, I will be moving soon. If all goes well, I will be in Barcelona next semester as part of an Erasmus programme: I can’t wait! I always want to get to know new places and people to enrich my experience.

Spread the news
Tags: , ,

About Emilia Campagna

Journalist and musician, Emilia is a blogger for Theresia