Ospedali Grandi – Copenhagen Girls' Choir and DKDM


Ospedali Grandi - the Forgotten Treasures of 18th Century Venice

The chamber choir of the Copenhagen Girls’ Choir is for those particularly aspiring singers who wish to devote extra time to their choral singing. In 2019 the chamber choir launches a multi-year series of concerts which will delve into the so-called “Ospedale Repertoire”. This largely forgotten musical treasure trove is worthy of rediscovery for many reasons.

In the 1700’s, Venice boasted four substantial “Ospedali Grandi” - a type of hospice which cared for worthy souls in need, amongst them orphaned girls. Certain female students (called “figlie del coro”) were selected to be trained as professional singers and instrumentalists, and these female ensembles came to be widely known for their high professional standards. According to several sources, King Frederik IV of Denmark attended a Venetian carnival at which Vivaldi played and conducted one of his own concertos. And Tolstoy wrote that in no other place could one experience such beautiful and harmonious sounds. For many years Vivaldi taught at the Ospedale della Pietà, one of the four Ospedali Grandi. At his disposal was an ensemble of sixty singers and instrumentalists - all of them girls. These female ensembles performed in religious services and special concerts throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The type of musical training they received in the Ospedali Grandi is often seen as a precursor to the educational programs developed in European conservatories during the 19th century. The characteristic feminine hallmark of Venetian baroque music is often neglected in performances nowadays, even by many of the “authentic” early music ensembles.

Thus this is a significant concert series in terms of exploring and highlighting the role of girls’ choral ensemble singing throughout music history. The series focuses on the Ospedali Repertoire and other compositions that provide a relevant frame of reference to the Venetian baroque music.
For this project, the Copenhagen Girls’ Choir is collaborating  with Concerto Copenhagen and students from the Royal Danish Academy of Music. By working closely with such a highly specialised ensemble as CoCo, the singers will undergo a direct, hands-on initiation into the expression, sound-world and phrasing of baroque music. This project in the spring of 2019 will be the ideal launchpad of a concert series which focusses on the unique story of the Ospedale’s musical tradition. The educational emphasis for the choir’s singers is very much in step with the original Ospedale philosophy, academic proficiency always being a common thread running through the choir’s projects.


B. Galuppi: Dixit Dominus
A. Vivaldi - Concerto per archi C Major, RV 11
J. A. Hasse: Miserere