Vittorio Ghielmi is best known as one of the finest viola da gamba players of his time, but he is a multifaceted musician of rare talent, as well. As the founder of the ensemble Il Suonar Parlante, he has explored not only early music but also jazz and popular music; as one of the most respected gambists in the world, he is co-author of a book on viol performance and music professor at the Conservatorio Luca Marenzio in Brescia, Italy. In addition, Ghielmi regularly performs duet repertory with his brother, keyboardist Lorenzo Ghielmi and with lutenist Luca Pianca. Ghielmi's major reportorial activity has been in the Baroque period, with particular focus on the works J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, and Monteverdi. But Ghielmi, who is also a conductor, has performed contemporary serious works, too, such as Kevin Volans' Matepe and White Man Sleeps, modern compositions both utilizing the viola da gamba. Ghielmi has made numerous recordings for a variety of labels, including Decca, Teldec, Auvidis, Supraphon, Harmonia Mundi, and Winter & Winter.
Vittorio Ghielmi was born in Milan, Italy, in 1968. It was not until the mid-'90s that he drew broad international notice: he won first prize at the 1995 Concorso Internazionale Romano Romanini, and then two years later was given the Cambridge, MA-based Erwin Bodky Award. The latter is given to young musicians showing excellence in early music performance.
Ghielmi was quickly recognized as one of the most talented gambists in Europe, and he capitalized on his newfound fame with acclaimed solo appearances with such orchestras as the Vienna Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, and Il Giardino Armonico. He also began giving duo concerts with his brother and Luca Pianca. The idea to found his ensemble Il Suonar Parlante was a bold one: the group consists of four viola da gamba players, and its repertory is mainly familiar Baroque music adapted for this unique quartet. But the group has also collaborated in concert with jazz composer and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, jazz pianist and composer Uri Caine, pop singer Vinicio Capossela, and many other non-Classical artists.
While Ghielmi has remained active largely as an instrumental performer, he has also appeared as a conductor, notably in a spectacular 2007 concert of Buxtehude's cantata cycle Membra Jesu Nostri. Ghielmi's later recordings include the 2009 Winter & Winter CD Johann Sebastian Bach: Art of Fugue, with his brother Lorenzo and Il Suonar Parlante.