By Elizabeth Wardle
This week on campus a small group of students from a private Italian academy are getting a taste of the BYU experience. They are here to learn, perform and enrich the university with their musical talents.
From the Accademia Musicale Mediterranea in Taranto, Italy, 10 students ranging in ages from 13-21 and two leaders arrived Oct. 13. They are here for an intensive educational experience, said Dale Monson, director of the BYU School of Music. What they got was a lasting impression of BYU and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
For nine of the students visiting this week, this is the only contact they have ever had with the church besides seeing the missionaries on the street.
Student violinist Giada Bonvissuto, 13, and Cybele D”Ambrosio, director of violin and chamber music at the Academy, are members of the church.
When the BYU Chamber Orchestra toured Europe in May, Cybele and her husband Max D”Ambrosia, with the help of the Academy, arranged for the students to have a concert site at the school and arranged for the visiting students to stay with host families.
A connection was made in Italy, which allowed Cybele to arrange for the group to come to Utah. The trip was partially funded by the students, the Academy and BYU.
They are receiving one lesson a day while they are here and have three scheduled performances. The Italian students also have the opportunity to sit in on other classes if they are interested in learning about other musical styles.
For a group that doesn”t speak much English, they have an ability to communicate through music. Gaetano Frascella, 14, referred to as a child prodigy, performed Tuesday evening with other BYU students.
Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Cybele performed in a string quartet with other BYU faculty members while some students performed pieces by Gershwin and Mozart.
Saturday at 1:00 p.m. is the official recital where all the students will be showcased. They were familiar with their pieces before arriving and have been preparing and perfecting them this week for the performance.
Their time, however, is not consumed with practicing. Since arriving, the Italian group has been to Homecoming Spectacular, the football game, Park City and Family Home Evening at the Italian house. They are scheduled to attend “Music and the Spoken Word” in Salt Lake City and BYU”s “La Boheme” this weekend.
Fabio Guarino, 20, one of the students, said in Italian, “We would really like to thank BYU wholeheartedly.”
The students have been impressed, and the overall consensus is that they would love to return, whether it is for an education here at BYU or to come back and visit.
“I am confident that this is not the only time they will come to BYU,” Cybele said.