Theresia is a prominent international youth orchestra specifically addressing the Classical repertoire on period instruments. Named after the Austrian empress Maria Theresia, the orchestra was founded in 2012 at the instigation of a group of patrons. It brings together musicians under the age of 28 who specialise in historically informed performance practice at the leading European music institutions, accompanying them on their journey into professional life.
The orchestra meets several times during the year for residency periods under the guidance of internationally renowned artists and star-system conductors. It performs at prestigious venues, theatres and festivals throughout Europe. In parallel, the project offers its participants a tailormade capacity building programme to enable the acquisition of new fundamental professional assets and skills. Theresia also includes an Ambassadorship Programme to disseminate classical music and its historic interpretation among new and young audiences in several European countries, fostering integration and dialogue between cultures.
Theresia is a musical project built around its young musicians. As such, it grew on the belief that the members of the orchestra should also cover the principal musical roles, i.e. concertmaster and soloists. No senior musician plays in the orchestra. The entrust of the orchestra to several conductors, not just one, was another decision that improved the learning experience of its members, enabling them to confront not only with the repertoire but also with different artistic readings and approaches.
The orchestra has been established in January 2012 under a private patronage scheme on the initiative of the Italian entrepreneur Mario Martinoli. More than 1200 training hours, 10 conductors and tutors, 150 musicians, 800 applications received from more than 40 world countries are the numbers that better describe the work that Theresia has done so far. Beyond numbers, the value of Theresia is also witnessed by more than 70 concerts held over the past years in several venues and festivals in Italy and Europe.
From 2016 the orchestra operates under the patronage of the Fondazione ICONS, a cultural organisation based in Northern Italy, and has developed into a structured pan-European learning program: all permanent members of the orchestra receive grants for the duration of one to two years, following educational paths designed to provide them with refined instruments to improve their playing and building a better awareness on the specific features of the classical music repertoire.
The orchestra's musicians come from more than 40 different countries from all over the world, holding residencies and concerts throughout Europe in Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Slovenia and Poland. The growth of the orchestra is witnessed by the increasing interest to apply from people coming from the most culturally diverse countries and by the truly international composition of its members, genuine and proactive ambassadors of the cultural values at the basis of the European identity.
Theresia has recently started a long-term collaboration with the German CD-label CPO for the publication of several CDs including works by Mattheson, Kraus, Eichner, Cimarosa, Traetta, Witt and many others.
In 2022, Theresia entered the group of the leading European youth orchestras co-funded by the European Commission alongside EUYO (European Union Youth Orchestra) and a few other talent development orchestral projects.
A member of the European Early Music Network (REMA), Theresia Orchestra is currently supported and managed by the Italian foundation ICONS and by the European Commission through the project EMPOWER funded by the Creative Europe Programme.