Le Dimore del Quartetto, Milan, Italy
Le Dimore del Quartetto (Houses of Quartets) initiative addresses the need for suitable spaces for young, professional musicians. The organisation connects young string quartets with the owners of historic houses. This mutually beneficial relationship provides an adequate space for the ensemble to study and practice their arts and the quartet returns the hospitality by performing a concert in the house, that can be either public or private. This format allows villas and other residences to become centres of culture, inviting people to appreciate not only classical music, but also the often hidden heritage of privately owned historic houses. It also supports young talent in the early phase of their musical career. The initiative has been funded through bank grants, donations, membership fees and revenue from tours, special or private concerts, masterclasses and training for companies. Some revenue is also earned from the participation fees from the quartets and houses.
The concerts are in tune with the needs of contemporary audiences. First, the duration of the performances are limited to a maximum of 60 minutes, in which musicians also introduce the programme before performing. Secondly, the spectators are seated in close proximity to the string quartet, allowing them not only to listen to the music, but also to intently follow the movements and the synergy of the musicians. Finally, the events often end with a pleasant reception, during which the house owners, artists and public can interact.
Since the summer of 2015, 800 days of residency and 280 concerts have been organised, while the number of spectators is estimated at over 16,000. The network that supports the initiative is vast and spans 12 different countries, consisting of 54 ensembles and 207 houses. “The impressive numbers of project participants highlights the project’s overall success”, the jury said, “It has involved a network of private house owners, performers and spectators and it has promoted a highly successful collaboration between EHH (European Historic Houses Association) and Genus Musicale. In addition, the project provides high-quality cultural activities, even in remote places”.
The scope and efficient organisation of Le Dimore del Quartetto was noted by the jury, stating that: “String quartets and chamber music are a part of the European cultural tradition, and performances can emphasise the musical connections of European cultural heritage sites. The advantage of this project is the unique attitude of the main stakeholders who have developed various innovative ways to collaborate. The project displays high-quality leadership and involves excellent performers, creating links with other EU countries.”