Sabrina Simoni

conductor of

the Piccolo Coro

"Mariele Ventre" dell“Antoniano


Sabrina Simoni (1969) grew up in the vicinity of the Italian city Bologna. She was still very young when she came to appreciate classical music. She really wanted to know everything about it; something that is illustrated by the anecdote that - as a 6-year-old - she was able to name all the instruments that together form an orchestra.

Sabrina Simoni, direttrice del Piccolo Coro "Mariele Ventre" dell“Antoniano


Even though during her childhood Sabrina knew all that year“s Zecchinosongs by heart (something her grandparents had to hear over and over again), she herself has never participated at the Zecchino d“Oro festival. Not as a soloist, and not in the choir.


Sabrina conducts!


One of the first pictures of Sabrina with her choir.

Una delle prime foto di Sabrina Simoni con il "suo" Piccolo Coro dell“Antoniano.

It“s not quite clear why she never joined the Piccolo Coro; after all she did live near Bologna. Perhaps playing an instrument was more appealing to her, for after graduating from high school, she went to study pianoforte at the Bologna conservatory. During her studies she got acquainted with Antonella Tosti, former member of the Piccolo Coro, who introduced her at Antoniano“s. After a few short-term supply jobs there as musical accomponist, Sabrina became the conductor of the teenagers and studentchoir Le Verdi Note dell“ Antoniano.





When Mariele Ventre, at the time the conductor of the far more well-known Antoniano children“s choir, had to have an urgent operation exactly during the busiest preparations for the children“s festival Zecchino d“Oro, she asked Sabrina and Antonella to fill in for her. Mariele, knowing she wouldn“t have much longer to live, regarded Sabrina as her ideal successor. So she asked her to continue helping her with the children“s choir; something Sabrina loved to since she enjoyed working with the children actually more than working with the teenagers and students from Le Verdi Note. Next to her studies at the conservatory therefore, Sabrina was educated by Mariele as conductor of the Antoniano children“s choir. When Mariele passed away in 1995, it was therefore a foregone conclusion that Sabrina took over the responsibility for the Piccolo Coro.

But this was definitely a cappella!Il Piccolo Coro in Polonia: con la direzione di Sabrina Simoni, i bambini cantano la famosa ninna nanna polacca "Lulaj Jezuniu" nel cortile della casa della gioventł di papa Giovanni Paolo II.



Her first year as single conductor of the Piccolo Coro has not been easy. Especially to the outside world she has really had to prove herself, but nowadays Italy has accepted and even embraced her as the new conductor of their beloved children“s choir. Meanwhile, Sabrina herself has ambitious plans with her children. After many years in which - for technical reasons - the choir“s singing in most TV-appearances was registered in advance, lately they have returned to singing everything live again.


EspeSabrina Simoni dirige il Piccolo Coro "Mariele Ventre" durante un concerto estivo.cially young soloists are conducted with emphasis.

Sabrina would further like to give the children a thorough introduction to classical music and to music from different cultures. She also has great plans for having the choir sing a cappella at their concerts (something they hardly ever do outside their rehearsal-room). And for the rest she keeps expecting a lot from the children; as a born perfectionist she requires perfection in every note!

But the elder ones, too, continually follow her with their eyes!Sabrina Simoni dirige il Piccolo Coro "Mariele Ventre" durante il saggio annuale.


The Piccolo Coro is usually showered with compliments. And with good reason, too: the choir sings incredibly well. Still, it is good to remember that the quality of a children“s choir in the first place gives us an indication of the quality of its conductor. For the singing of a children“s choir can never be of a higher quality than the skills of the conductor who taught them.


Sure, everyone can teach a song to a group of children, but usually, all you get is a group of children singing a song. To make the children aware of the harmony, to teach them to listen to each other when singing, that is a level children will never reach without the help of a good conductor. At that age (in this case 4 to 12 year olds) they will hardly have had the opportunity to develop their hearing and their voice elsewhere. And natural talents like the Annarita“s, the Olivia“s and the Carolina“s are exceptions, even in a famous choir like the Piccolo Coro. Visiting a Piccolo Coro rehearsal, you will soon discover that most of the kids in this excellent choir have but ordinary talents for music. So the exceptional quality of the choir“s sound is not the result of extraordinary talents with each and every one of the fifty choirkids. No, it is hard work and a lot of perseverance (and a lot of fun) for both the young singers and their conductor to obtain this result. Consequently, there is only one person responsible for the exceptional quality of this choir: its conductor Sabrina Simoni.


Sabrina Simoni, direttrice del Piccolo Coro "Mariele Ventre" dell“Antoniano.

During the past years, Sabrina has applied herself to share and spread her knowledge and experience. It started with the two books she has published: Favole inCanto and La tastiera incantata. These are playful supplements to existing methods of making young children familiar with singing and the possibilities of the voice (Favole inCanto) and with the musical scale, reading notes and playing the piano (La tastiera incantata). 

To give all children the opportunity to make themselves familiar with the world of music, recently Sabrina has taken the initiative of the project Giocando con la musica (Playing with music). This way, even those children who don“t pass the auditions for the children“s choir will have a chance of enjoying musical classes. I don“t know much about this project, but it wouldn“t surprise me if - among other things - the two books mentioned above would play a major part in this project...

Another recent project are the annual two days“ seminars for conductors of children“s choirs. Once a year, Sabrina and the rest of the Piccolo Coro staff share their knowledge and experiences with (mostly amateur) colleagues. Oh, how I wished I could go there...!


Apart from her marrying the musician Siro Merlo in 2001, not much is known about Sabrina“s private life. They don“t have any children (yet), but the rumour goes around that Sabrina once let slip out of her mouth: "I“ve got sixty children; that“s enough, thank you very much..."







Piccolo Coro 


The history of the Piccolo Coro 


Opus Magnum of the Piccolo Coro directed by Sabrina 


Favole inCanto & La tastiera incantata 



Zecchino d“Oro    


Antoniano index


The official site

(extern link)