Divertimento Ensemble was founded in 1977 by some internationally renowned soloists, conducted by Sandro Gorli. The Ensemble quickly attained considerable success both in Italy and abroad, with over 1500 concerts and 20 CDs to its credit to date, and in 2004 created “Rondò“, a contemporary music festival that takes place annually in Milan.
Over 100 composers have dedicated new compositions to the Ensemble: these, and many others, helped consolidate one of the most representative repertoires of new chamber music, both Italian and international.
In 1978 Divertimento Ensemble was included in the prestigious programmes of Milan’s Società del Quartetto and Musica nel Nostro Tempo. In 1981 made its debut at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, with the opera Il Sosia by Flavio Testi and a concert dedicated entirely to music by Aldo Clementi. It featured in the Teatro alla Scala programme again, in 1996, 1997 and 1998, with a concert dedicated to Frank Zappa.
The Ensemble has taken part in the most important contemporary music festivals in Europe; it was invited by the Venice Biennale (fourteen times from 1979 to 2020) and it held concerts in France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia, Poland, Latvia, Finland, Hungary, Mexico, Argentina, United States, Japan and Russia, as well as the most important Italian cities.
Its recordings include the opera Solo by S. Gorli (CD by Ricordi), three CDs dedicated to B. Maderna: Satyricon (Salabert-Harmonia Mundi), Don Perlimplin (Stradivarius), Venetian Journal, Juilliard Serenade, Vier Briefe, Konzert fur Oboe und Kammerensemble (Stradivarius), an anthology of music by young Italian composers (Fonit Cetra) and thirteen CDs featuring the work of G. Castagnoli, A. Solbiati, F. Donatoni, M. Franceschini, S. Gervasoni, F. Gardella, M. Momi, S. Bulfon, D. Ghisi, G. Bertelli, Z. Baldi, Vittorio Montalti and Diana Soh respectively (Stradivarius). Two CDs dedicated to Francesco Ciurlo and to Stefano Gervasoni are in preparation, also for Stradivarius.
Furthermore, for several years the Ensemble has been strongly committed to musical education and promotion of young people’s creativity: new pieces commissions and many other activities led in 2017 to the foundation of IDEA – International Divertimento Ensemble Academy. IDEA coordinates the Conducting Course dedicated specifically 20th and 21st centuries music (17th edition in 2021); the International Workshop for Young Composers (7th edition in 2021); the Calls for Young Performers (instrumental masterclasses in contemporary music, 11th edition in 2021); the Composition Course (1st edition in 2018-19); the “Franco Donatoni” International Meeting for Young Composers, which includes an international composition competition, concerts, premieres and round tables (6th edition in 2020/21); the Composition Competition for students of the Italian Conservatories (7th edition in 2017), expanded at European level in 2018 with the EU project DYCE – Discovering Young Composers of Europe; Sul Palco!/On Stage!, an international competition that selects multidisciplinary performances (2nd edition in 2018).
In 2012 the ensemble became part of the European network Ulysses (projects 2012-2016, 2016-2020 and 2020-2024), which brings together 11 of the major European institutions dedicated to promoting contemporary music, fostering young composers’ creativity and encouraging the circulation of works, authors and performers.
Divertimento Ensemble also produced activities aimed at the public, to encourage their curiosity and approach towards this repertoire: such as Le Nuove Voci di Divertimento Ensemble, a non-professional choir open to anyone wishing to perform contemporary music, born in 2017; the LAM-Laboratorio di Ascolto Musicale, a listening workshop aimed at a more conscious approach to the contemporary music repertoire, born in 2018; the LIEM-Laboratorio di Improvvisazione ed Esecuzione Musicale, a lab designed for non-musicians who want to experiment “live” with the language of contemporary music, born in 2020; Giocare la Musica (7th edition, 2020), a workshop dedicated to primary school children.
In 2010 Divertimento Ensemble has been awarded the mention of the “grandesignEtico International Award” for its activity in favour of young musicians. In 2015 it won the XXXIV Italian music critics’ Franco Abbiati Prize as “the 2014 best initiative”.