Orfeo Music Festival

    Rejuvenate yourself and your music making at the Orfeo Music Festival--three weeks of wonderful music in the magnificent surroundings of the Italian Alps.


Students at the Orfeo Music Festival

    A variety of students attend the Orfeo Music Festival. The majority are talented college and high school students, but there are also younger as well as much more “mature” participants. There is a wonderful atmosphere of camaraderie at the Festival. Whether serious conservatory student or adult amateur, students enjoy learning from faculty, from nature, and from each other.

    Most Festival participants are American, but there is a definite international flavor with students from Germany, England, Australia, Korea, and other countries.

The City of Vipiteno/Sterzing

    This beautiful city, surrounded by stunning Alpine mountains, has two names –Vipiteno and Sterzing--reflecting a history rooted in both Italy and Austria. Menus are written in two languages, as are all official signs and publications. Italian and German are heard in shops and on the streets. Locals appreciate my lame attempts at both languages, but fortunately for me many of them are trilingual, speaking English too.

    A large clock tower dominates the city, separating it into Old Town and New Town. The “newer” area consists of buildings only constructed since the 15th century! There’s a magnificently preserved town hall building, and some beautiful medieval churches. The “Holy Ghost” church on the main town square proved to be a perfect setting for playing Bach. There’s also a more modern theatre, where many of the Festival concerts are held. It holds a few hundred audience members and has good acoustics.

    Vipiteno/Sterzing attracts many tourists, largely for the quality shopping found there. Souvenir shops, food shops, linen and candy stores are abundant, as are many fine restaurants and coffee houses. Masses of tourists stay in Vipiteno/Sterzing in order to hike or bike the many wonderful trails nearby. The Gilfenklam waterfalls, a short bus ride away, are breathtaking. Or you can go high up on a ski-lift and take civilized hikes through the mountains. I say “civilized” because all trails are well marked, and have frequent rest stops that include full service restaurants!

    From my hotel, it was about a fifteen minute walk to the well-preserved Reifenstein Castle (or Castel Tasso, in Italian), dating from the 1100’s. For only 6 euros, I took one of the most fascinating tours I’ve ever taken, getting a real sense of what life at a more workaday castle was like throughout the centuries.

    Vipiteno/Sterzing is a transportation hub. From the train or bus one can explore nearby Alpine cities--the markets at Bolzano, or the gardens in Merano; or take longer day trips to Venice, Salzburg, Cremona, Lake Garda or Verona.


    There’s neither Pizza Hut nor McDonald’s in Sterzing, but there’s plenty of variety when it comes to food. Menus offer Italian pastas and pizzas, as well as German specialties. There’s a little stand on the main square that offers bratwursts, but also French fries which students raved about (“better than In-n-Out!” I heard one of them saying). My favorite foods are the local dairy products. Vipiteno has many farms nearby, producing its own yoghurt (the pear flavor was my favorite), creamy butter, and cheeses. A lunch of fresh baked bread from one of the many bakeries lining the main street, with some local cheese is amazing! Those local bakeries also have delicious cookies or strudel to nosh on while drinking a coffee, tea or cappuccino. Fantastic Italian ice cream, gelato, is available for as little as one euro, and in so many great flavors. How can one choose between chocolate chip, coffee, lemon, strawberry, hazelnut, yoghurt, and of course chocolate? Impossible! Good thing the festival lasts 18 days, giving one many opportunities to sample gelato flavors after concerts.


    From the first day of the festival to the last, students, faculty and guest artists are performing on concerts—usually two a day. One hears mostly solo and chamber music, but there are also two concerts given by the student orchestra. There are inspiring performances of familiar repertoire, and ears are opened up to new sounds as well. Concerts are held in various settings—a nice chamber music space at the Festival school, a modern theatre, medieval churches, or outdoor settings—on the town square or in a courtyard. Friendly, enthusiastic audiences mingle festival participants with locals and tourists.

Demonstrating breathing with Body Mapping students

With faculty bassoonist Scott Pool in the “new town” area of Vipiteno




classical music in the Italian Alps

  1. -July 4-July 20, 2014

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