"There have been two or three people in my life who have made immeasurable impacts upon my life as a man and as a musician. One of them has been Dr. John Ratledge. So, when he called me during the Christmas season of 2013 to tell me of this fantastic new venture he had begun, I was easily able to put aside concerns and fears to tell him I would be a part of the inaugural Bassi Brugnatelli International Conducting and Singing Symposium. During the course of the first year of the program, I gained my first international performance credit, worked with an exceptionally gifted chamber orchestra, several of whom regularly play at some of Italy’s most prestigious opera houses, and saw the maturing of a truly exceptional group of young artists in both their performance and professionalism – some of whom have since returned to the symposium and continued to build upon those skills that were honed on their first experience.
Each year, the teaching faculty of the symposium has worked collaboratively with Marcello, the symposium’s principal benefactor, to expand scholarship and performance opportunities. Upon my return to the symposium this past summer, it had grown into something much more comprehensive and engaging than I would have imagined after that first season. The symposium has continued to gain momentum and I am excited to see what will happen in the immediate years to come. Through the years of working with John and the faculty of BBS, I have acquired greater skills as a performer and a teacher. I have also formed friendships with colleagues in another part of the world that remind me of the special bond shared among those who pursue excellence and invest themselves in the artistic well-being of the world around them.
–Dr. Chris O'Rear
"When I registered for the 5th annual Bassi Brugnatelli Symposium, I really did not know what to expect other than knowing that I would be spending two weeks in Italy participating in a rigorous conducting workshop. I had no idea at the time that the symposium would be a life-changing experience for me. Not only did I have the opportunity as a conductor to work with talented musicians from all over the world, I was also able to make life-long friendships in the process. In a matter of days, I found myself collaborating with experienced singers, musicians, and master teachers that all inspired me and pushed me to realize my full potential as a conductor intellectually, spiritually, and musically. John Ratledge, founding artistic director of the symposium, was a brilliant conducting coach, balancing encouragement with rigor and high expectations. By the end of the week, I had conducted in several performances across the beautiful country of Italy, an opportunity that was truly unique and unforgettable. The breathtaking villa that housed the symposium was a beautiful setting that inspired me to work harder to improve myself as an artist. I would highly recommend the symposium to any aspiring conductor or singer who is seeking to improve their craft. The two weeks at the symposium far exceeded my expectations, and I hope to someday return to participate in the program again."
–Dr. Cody Goss
"Bassi Brugnatelli Symposium was exactly what I needed at this point in my singing career. I have been performing professionally but needed a vocal checkup as well as more one-on-one collaboration with conductors. The faculty members of the program were knowledgeable and passionate about guiding us toward a deeper understanding of how to serve the music while staying true to our own interpretations. I highly recommend this program for college students, emerging professionals and established professionals looking for an intensive study opportunity in the Italian countryside."
"The Bassi Brugnatelli Symposium was such a lovely experience musically, artistically, but also culturally. I will continue to cherish it for years and years. I so admire your vision in bringing the program to fruition, and I hope to be a part of the program in future years. All best wishes to you, John, as an artist, musician, collaborator, maestro, composer, and the many other "hats" you wear."
–Dr. Susan Williams
"The Symposium was an incredibly unique experience and I grew so much as a singer and as a person. Working with such a skilled and generous group of teachers and watching all the other participants develop their talent was amazing. I gained new insights on technique and interpretation from working individually with the coaches. The openness of the environment in the masterclasses allowed me to explore my range and experiment with character and performance. The support and positivity everybody brought to the program also showed me a different approach to vocal development, without needing to be competitive all the time. The opportunity to rehearse and perform with an orchestra for the first time in such a stunning location was truly a special moment for me, and I will always hold fond memories of my time spent at the symposium.
Thank you, John Ratledge, for helping me find a new belief in myself. I still need to process everything I learned, and experiencing it all in such a gorgeous location was inspiring. (And the food was spectacular of course!).
"My time at the Bassi Brugnatelli Symposium has informed a lasting musical and professional journey. You are launched into an environment bursting with master teachers who lead you to your own potential. My teachers and friends have not stopped mentioning the intense progress I made in a mere two weeks. I would highly recommend this program to singers of any age looking for a fresh perspective."
"My experience at the symposium was no less than life-changing. To be in Italy with people who share the same passion is just pure magic. I was met where I was and pushed to be better, more vulnerable, and more thoughtful. I learned to connect with my instrument; and not just to sing, but to communicate, which is priceless. Every stranger so quickly became a friend, and for that, I am so grateful. I fell in love with Italy, and with these people, and with music again. You really have created something that fosters pure growth in an extraordinary environment. I feel so blessed to have received that gift, and thank you for believing in me. I will never forget how I felt this summer and what I learned from it. Again, I can't say thank you enough, or even put into words the amount of joy and knowledge I gained from the symposium. I would love to come back some day if you would have me."
"Conducting Master Classes: Working as a collaborative pianist in the Brugnatelli Symposium in July, I had the opportunity to work with very talented students from the United States and Ireland, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with outstanding musicians from La Scala and the Rai Symphony Orchestra. Observing John Ratledge working with the students was a wonderful learning experience for me, reinforcing the importance of meaningful gesture, expression, breath, and how important the communication with a soloist and orchestra is apart from the requisite knowledge of the score, style, and interpretation of a work. The rehearsals were so mentally and musically engaging for me. What John was able to obtain from the musicians was simply incredible. I believe that John’s gesture is one of the clearest and expressive I've ever seen in a conductor, and his connection with the musicians is visceral.
Voice Master Classes: In the afternoons, I worked with Rebecca Turner and was immediately impressed with her talent, knowledge of the repertoire, vocal technique and her pedagogical concepts, not to mention that she has two degrees in piano. She is one of those teachers who can change a student’s voice with efficiency, clarity, and elegance….I would hear voices changing suddenly...getting richer, fuller, freer after an only few exercises. Becky cares about character, the musical aspects, and the understanding and delivery of an aria or an art song. Becky Turner is one of the most exceptional voice teachers I have ever worked with.
The Venue: Living and studying in the Palazzo is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I am Italian and am accustomed to old buildings and palazzos; however, having the opportunity to work in a place with that beauty and history is very rare and unique! The villa itself, the garden, the dining room……THE FOOD…. all are magnificent. Just one word can describe all of this: WONDERFUL!!!!"
- Annalisa Monticelli
Chief Collaborative Pianist
"I think it is important to say that this is a program well-deserving of support. The faculty and students alike changed my singing and musicianship for the better. It is hardly possible imagining a more dedicated group of people in service or faculty of the symposium. Know that attending the Symposium has changed my life truly for the better."
"Bassi Brugnatelli Symposium was truly an amazing experience! The teachers were so hands-on and gifted, and I learned so many invaluable aspects to my conducting that has changed my life. I now view myself as a real conductor! The experience of daily conducting an orchestra and growing with them as musicians and the professional soloists will be something I will always remember. Because of this experience, I have made the decision to begin my doctoral studies in conducting with John Ratledge. In addition, the friends I met there will still be very much a part of my life for years to come, and I can't wait to go back!"
"My experience at Bassi Brugnatelli International Symposium is one that I will treasure for a lifetime. As a singer, I loved having the opportunity to work with conductors to gain more insight as to what we needed from each other in order to make music seamlessly. Each of the professors and guests artists was a fount of information and made as much time for the participants as is done for them. From authentic Italian cuisine, daily yoga with the sweet sound of chickens roaming in the distance, performances, and rehearsals in a 17th-century villa, to career networking, making life-long friendships and diving into Italian culture, this symposium is one that is filled with sweet memories for all attendants. With the encouragement and constructive criticism from the faculty, I, undoubtedly, left this symposium as a more confident performer and singer. Thank you to everyone who made this experience a positive one and has helped me on my performance path. I know we will see each other again in this small musical world."
"My experience at the Symposium was AMAZING! I would specifically recommend this program to anyone who is starting out on their journey as a young artist. During the workshops, masterclasses, and coachings, I was exposed to a variety of different skills, techniques, and insight into what it is like in the professional world. Throughout the intensive program, the teachers and coaches pushed the participants to reach their fullest potential, and I don’t think there was a single conductor or singer who didn’t experience growth on some level. That, combined with the simple fact that we were performing in Italy made it all an experience I will never forget. This program was a major stepping stone in starting my journey as a young artist, and I cannot wait until I am able to return! Participating in the Bassi Brugnatelli Symposium was a wonderful opportunity to grow as an artist. The opportunity to work with conductors and a chamber orchestra on a daily basis changed how I as a singer communicated with conductors for the better. While there, I was able to apply the knowledge I gained in school about rehearsals. This was an invaluable learning experience, and I recommend this symposium to any singer looking to refine their conductor/singer communication skills."
"Attending the Bassi Brugnatelli Conducting and Singing Symposium was an inspiring and invigorating experience. It was a pleasure to work with and observe such a talented faculty. I particularly enjoyed the coaching sessions with Rebecca Turner. Rebecca helped me greatly with both technical and interpretive issues, and I hope to work with her again in the near future. The experience of the symposium was enhanced by the absolutely stunning surroundings of the Palazzo and the opportunity to soak up some Italian culture. I'm looking forward to returning!"
- Siobhra Quinian
"The week I spent at the Bassi Brugnatelli Singing Symposium changed my life beyond all of my expectations. I went thinking that I was going to further my musical studies, and get feedback regarding the possibility of a performing career. Instead, I developed a new perspective on music, made some friends for life, and above all else, I gained a new voice teacher. Because of the symposium, I am now a vocal performance major at Converse College, studying with Rebecca Turner, and I could not be happier. I would attend the symposium again in a heartbeat, and I highly recommend it to conductors and singers who are serious about their craft."
- Katie Jo O'Neal
"The Bassi Brugnatelli Symposium was truly a life-changing experience for me as a musician. I decided to go on rather short notice, and I was not completely sure what to expect. I certainly did not expect the caliber of musical instruction and inspiration as we experienced. The villa that we worked and studied in was stunningly beautiful, and it inspired a lot of the musicality in our performances. In addition to a great musical experience, this symposium allowed for some great networking. We created a lot of good friendships throughout the week, and that was not something I expected either. This was a fantastic experience, and I plan on attending again."
- Grace Frazor