Italian conductor Marzio Conti to guest conduct Jacobs Orchestra

Marzio Conti, an Italian conductor, director and flautist, will guest conduct with the Jacobs School of Music Concert Orchestra at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Musical Arts Center.

The orchestra will perform three pieces, Emmanuel Chabrier’s Overture to “Gwendoline,” Elias Parish-Alvars’ Hart Concerto in E-Flat Major, Op. 98 and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 54.

Conti, who canceled a performance with his home orchestra in Spain to guest conduct here, said he was happy to be at IU.

“It feels like home here,” Conti said. “It’s a strange feeling. It’s like a cradle of culture.”

At 20 years old, Conti made his debut as a flautist at the Salzburg Festival, performing with the I Solisti Veneti chamber orchestra of Italy.

After extensive time spent working with the flute at institutions internationally, Conti turned to conducting. He studied under noted Italian composer Piero Bellugi, expanding his repertoire to include music of varying backgrounds, including classical, contemporary, symphonic and opera.

Conti has collaborated internationally with influential ballet companies and has worked in both television and radio programming. He currently directs the Spanish Oviedo Filarmonia and conducted last semester’s comic opera The Italian Girl in Algiers, performed at the Music Arts Center.

Conti was immediately invited back to IU after the fall opera. He praised the professionalism of the students and professors he worked with.

“It was an incredible experience,” Conti said. “The school is a unique thing throughout the whole world.”

Junior Alexandra Mullins  will be featured in Chabrier’s Overture to “Gwendoline,” as a harp soloist after winning a school-wide harp contest. In the contest, Mullins competed against two other harpists, playing through an entire piece for a panel of judges.

Mullins met Conti on Saturday after she was named the contest winner. She began rehearsing with Conti on Monday in preparation for Wednesday night’s performance.

“It’s really cool, especially considering that he’s played this piece with great orchestras and great harpists,” Mullins said. “To get his input on that will be really interesting.”

Mullins, who began playing harp at 3 years old, has performed internationally, as well as at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. She has been named the Young Artist for the American Harp Society, which has led her to travel the country on weekends performing for local harp chapters in California, New York and Texas, among other states.

“Not a lot of people have seen a harp perform, so I think that it’s always great when the harp gets showcased,” Mullins said. “I think that it’s just a really nice piece. It’s just very elegant and romantic.”

Mullins said she looks forward to playing this piece with a full orchestra, as opposed to a more typical piano accompaniment.

“Playing as a soloist with an orchestra is one of my favorite things that I’ve ever gotten to do,” Mullins said.

The event is free and open to the public.