L'Aquila - Italy's fabulous ''city of the 99'' - is sending its musical ambassadors to North America this month for 15 concerts in the United States and Canada. Known as ''I Solisti Aquilani,'' this superb chamber orchestra has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest of its kind in Europe, having played widely throughout the Italian provinces and in major European cities.
Under the skillful leadership of their founder, Vittorio Antonellini, the musicians will initiate their tour on Feb. 26 and crown their travels with a Carnegie Hall concert in New York on March 18.
Established in 1968, I Solisti Aquilani might be thought of as a latter-day expression of the intense artistic life that has prevailed in L'Aquila since its beginnings in the second half of the 13th century. The city was established as a confederation of 99 villages and castles; and we are told by legend, if not altogether by historical fact, that its churches were 99, its squares 99, its quarters 99; and today its ancient ''Fountain of the 99 Spouts'' is a reminder of this curious tradition. During its more than 700 years the city has reveled in its architects, its painters and sculptors, its writers, its philosophers and theologians, its musicians.
The major aim of I Solisti Aquilani, especially when traveling abroad, is to give their listeners a panorama of Italian scores, beginning with the baroque period and continuing to the present. At times maestro Antonellini builds their programs around the Neapolitan school, the Venetian school, or the Roman school. Their concerts scintillate with works by Vivaldi, Albinoni, Boccherini, Corelli, and even with counterbass sonatas by such non-Italians as Eccles and Bloch, deftly played by Gary Karr.
Emilio Tomassi, organizer of the tour, is an engineer who wears two extra hats - one as president of I Solisti Aquilani, and another as president of L'Aquila's tourist organization. Mariza Warren, journalist and producer of documentaries, will be showing her latest film - ''L'Aquila, a City for Music'' - at various points during the tour. She has focused her film on I Solisti Aquilani as they are seen and heard in their own city. The sound track will be either in Italian or in English as the need may be.
Music lovers may consult their local newspapers for time and place. Cities and dates are as follows:
Feb. 26 - Tarrytown, N.Y.; Feb. 27 - Bloomsburg, Pa.; Feb. 28 - New Wilmington, Pa.; March 2 - Indianapolis, Ind.; March 3 - Evanston, Ill.; March 4 - Iowa City, Iowa; March 7 - Kohler, Wis.; March 8 - Green Bay, Wis.; March 9 - Whitewater, Wis.; March 12 - Ann Arbor, Mich.; March 13 - Toronto, Canada; March 15 - Lafayette, Ind.; March 16 - Cleveland, Ohio; March 18 - Carnegie Hall in New York; March 20 - Rockville Center, N.Y.