By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For nine days beginning on Saturday, music lovers in Italy will get a taste of Philadelphia’s best. But it’s not the renowned Philadelphia Orchestra on tour this time. It’s Philadelphia’s All City Orchestra – the school district’s orchestra, ready to dazzle five Italian cities.
At final rehearsal, you knew it takes precision to be a good orchestra, and passion to be great.
These high school students, some of whom graduated hours before our interview are passionate about the opportunity to bring their music to Italy.
Five Italian cities – Florence, Perugia, Assisi, Monticatini, Lucca – will stage concerts. But the tour begins in Rome.
“I’m excited to experience another culture,” said Adriannas Hines, who plays the trombone. “I’ve never left the country. To be able to have this happen is a blessing.”
This All City Orchestra is an ensemble of 115 student and alumni musicians from across the public school district. The best of the best music programs.
Don Liuzzi, the timpanist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, has been All City’s conductor for ten years.
“The effort to subjugate your ego and to play the music.. is going to raise their level of music making beyond what it’s ever been,” said Liuzzi.
The repertoire is an orchestral mix from classical Verdi, to movie theme composer, Morriconi.
The magic doesn’t escape high school junior, Phineas Shapiro.
“With five concerts in a row is what makes it musically intense. The music is so wonderful, interesting and evocative,” said Shapiro.
Atamosi Hagins graduated Masterman hours before the final rehearsal.
“Music has always been a part of my life.” Said Mosi. “That’s what I want to do with my career. This opportunity is life changing.”
Anna Nguyen, is a high school freshman, playing second violin. She’s played since she was 5.
“I’m a little nervous. I think everyone is a little nervous,” said Nguyen. “ The music is hard and we’ve rehearsed many, many times.”
Despite the financial strife of in the Philadelphia School District, the tour was well supported with private donations.
“A lot of people gave very generously to this and to the idea of supporting music in the city and that gives me hope,” said Liuzzi. “Not only hope for music making.. but music making in the city.”
If you want to experience the music, the All City Orchestra will perform a free farewell concert on Thursday, June 18th at 7:30 p.m. at the Kimmel Center.
Wheels up is Saturday. And then, it’s “Ciao, Italia!”