Mario Venzago intends to inspire Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra players to be not only world renowned as a group that plays well together, but equally respected as interpreters of the full range of composers of symphonic music.

Speaking at the ISO’s First Monday Club meeting in the Wood Room at Hilbert Circle Theatre in June, Maestro Venzago’s reply to Geoffrey Lapin’s laudatory introduction was a bouquet of superlatives for ISO players and administration, prompting Music Club host Lapin to retort, “We love you, too!”

Venzago singled out the May 4 and 5 performances of Brahms’ A German Requiem as the most perfect of the 2006-2007 season, citing the joy he felt during this emotionally charged work. “The choir sounded wonderful, as did the orchestra. It was my first time to conduct the Requiem and I felt it here,” Venzago said as he touched his heart.

“What I told the orchestra is that this is an inspiration. The goal is to go further and improve the Indianapolis sound to interpret the composer, what he heard,” Venzago recalled. “It is the historical sound.”

“You have been helping us build a collective music memory,” Lapin prompted, to which Venzago added that it is important to recall and share the special old sounds of the classical works as well as to bring audiences to the new sounds of contemporary composers.

An orchestra does this, Venzago explained, by building the natural dynamics of each instrument. Thus, ISO players are challenged on a spectrum of levels, perfecting their own individual artistry while working as a sectional unit and within the larger entity toward a sound that is distinctive for each composer.

As new players come into the ISO, the longtime players share and inspire the newcomers to gain music memory. The point is to have Brahms sound like Brahms wanted to sound.

To think of the music in its time and how to translate it meaningfully to “modern ears” is a challenge that Venzago intends the ISO to face and become known for.

Part of the equation is the influence of the concertmaster, whose responsibility it is to “read the conductor’s mind” and thus by his own playing and body language draw the rest of the players into the conductor’s particular interpretation of a work. With the new ISO design to share the concertmaster duties between three top-notch players who individually and collectively embrace Venzago’s vision, the idea is to move into the 21st century of making music with players who have a solo concert career along with sitting in the primary seat in the orchestra. This approach, according to Venzago, is electrifying the music world.

For Mario Venzago, music memory translates into “musical magic.”

Log on to for information about the ISO.


Recommended for you