In 1970, founder and instigator of the Ricciotti ensemble Jur Naessens, was working for The Netherlands Youth and Music Foundation. One afternoon in September, Naessens got a call from Daan Padmos, manager of several pop groups. He was looking for a classical youth orchestra to play about 15 minutes during a pop festival in a circus tent situated in a meadow in Uithoorn. After some digging, he found 12 string players available from the Hilversum Youth Orchestra. Their concertmaster at the time was the then 14 year old Jan Erik van Regteren Altena. Together with his younger brother of 2 years Eduardo ( cello) Maurits Wijzenbeek ( viola) and Lucas Jansen ( violin), he became the core of this ad hoc ensemble. The library of the van Regteren Altena family produced the second concertina by Carlo Ricciotti.
In the middle of the audience, feet in the grass.
2 Saturdays of rehearsal later, Jur Naessens drove a party of 12-14 year olds in a minibus to Uithoorn. As there were no chairs, they all played standing up. The stage was filled with cables and boxes from participating pop groups, so they chose to stand in front of the stage in between the audience that had made itself comfortable by sitting in the grass. The performance was a major hit!
Cheering crowds in Haarlem
Afterwards, the musicians felt that their performance had been a little bit short, especially after they had studied for so long. So the minibus drove on to Haarlem station where they, after some persuasion of the staff there, began to perform again and in no time an enthusiastic crowd of passengers had gathered to listen.
An anxious retirement home
Still the youngsters had not had enough and wanted to play again. A retirement home was the next option but not every home was in for it. Number 8 reacted positively although they were a little anxious. And so the ensemble performed for the third time that day, this time for the elderly with dementia.
The young players loved this way of performing. Most of them were acquainted with classical music and most of their parents were musicians. They knew about “ordinary” concerts and they played in an “ordinary” youth orchestra but what they had experienced that day was so different that they wished to continue to do so.
Looking back, this proved to be the first performance of what later was to be The Ricciotti Ensemble.
It was immediately clear what the core values of the Ricciotti ensemble were, even then: good music, easy access everywhere and for everyone.
The first piece on the music stand gave its name to the ensemble. It was one of the Concerti Armonici by Carlo Ricciotti. After extensive research, it was established in 1980 that this piece was composed by count Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer, who lived in Kasteel Twickel. Today, Kasteel Twickel is one of the regular venues during the summer tour of the Ricciotti ensemble.