A WINNING COMBINATION
Le Dimore del Quartetto, founded by Francesca Moncada, reconnects two fascinating worlds – Historic Residences and String Quartets – in such a way that the requirements of the former would become resources for musicians, and vice-versa, in a circular structure within which civil society plays a fundamental role.
Francesca became fascinated by the sound of the string quartet some twenty years ago, almost by accident. She immediately understood that the basis of the creative and expressive tension that characterises this ensemble was teamwork. To be part of this electrifying field is a privilege that requires only the ability to listen. This is why she felt a need to disseminate this musical genre, with the certainty that anyone could fall in love with it under the right conditions. The string quartet consists of two violins, a viola and a cello. These four instruments are capable of reproducing the range of colours of an entire orchestra. But an orchestra is led by a conductor who establishes the interpretation, whereas in a quartet the four “voices” are unique, distinct, and interweave with each other in a language that is the profound and well thought-out expression of the four performers, who dialogue with each other and deepen their knowledge of the score’s meaning. Francesca Moncada tried to understand why, on the one hand, an army of young musicians is still today devoted to this musical genre, which demands incomparable dedication and sacrifice, while, on the other, an ever-smaller and older audience is showing interest in it. The answer came to her almost immediately: chamber music, and especially the quartet, should be listened to in an intimate setting, because it is a full-immersion experience of listening, watching and participating. In this way alone can this type of music be appreciated and understood in its uniqueness. This is why it is called chamber music. But where were the chambers, the rooms, where this music first appeared – this music that flourished so abundantly that thousands of concert societies were created for it across all of Europe? The answer is that aristocratic residences had great halls and music rooms; concerts were part of the life of the court; and the musicians who performed created a direct contact with the audience members and often knew them personally. Europe is sprinkled with historic residences that are part of our territories’ identities, but today they are often empty, separated from the life of their respective communities. Francesca Moncada has had the luck to live in such a residence, to be familiar with its spaces and to be part of its history. This good fortune, however, is also a responsibility, a precious inheritance but, at the same time, hard to keep alive within a modern life-style. This is why she thought of connecting, or rather re-connecting, these two worlds – Historic Residences and String Quartets – in such a way that the requirements of the former would become resources for musicians, and vice-versa, in a circular structure within which civil society plays a fundamental role. Thus in 2016 Le Dimore del Quartetto emerged as the first network in Europe of historic residences that offer residencies to young quartets in exchange for a concert. It all began almost as a game, with telephone calls to a few friends who were willing to give the idea a try. The response was incredible: after having overcome some initial hesitation. The enthusiasm was passed by word of mouth from home to home, from quartet to quartet, and it brought together the first partners through whom the network began to develop organically. Growing out of those first few residences, Le Dimore del Quartetto in 2020 numbers over 250 residences in 16 countries in Europe and beyond, and it includes around 80 ensembles (string quartets and trios, piano quartets and trios), among the finest on the world’s stages, with musicians from 33 different countries. Beginning with this exchange (residence for quartet and hospitality for concert), various projects have been created in collaboration with numerous residence proprietors, who have found an opportunity to create shared values. Concert societies, academies, competitions, embassies, institutions, foundations and instrument collections have given their support to this plan, which continues to grow at great speed. Thanks to this network system, Le Dimore del Quartetto manages to bring high-level cultural content even into areas that have no cultural institutions, thereby enhancing and enlivening even small communities. Thus, many different festivals have emerged, and their itineraries are leading to discoveries of music and of spaces, and are activating social and productive systems in areas where this would otherwise be hard to achieve. To this are added travel and business itineraries, by presenting the string quartet as an example of shared leadership, diversity and inclusion – artistic collaborations that favour the circulation of young European professionals. And the evolution is continuing, bypassing all borders. What is this story’s secret recipe? Sometimes even the most ancient resources can give life to a highly innovative, unique project, if they are put together in a creative way.