A year has passed and it also bears the end of a long and important project I had the pleasure to work on in 2023. The project is called Orchestra del Mare (Orchestra from the Sea) and is promoted by Fondazione Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti.
It is a long story that started in the violin making workshop of the jail in Milano – Opera. This workshop has been operating since 2013 and aims to give life and meaning to the detention time and to give a chance for the future social reinsertion of detained people. There, the idea of the first Violino del mare was born a couple of years ago: a violin was made from the wood of the boats that carried migrant people in their journey through the Mediterranean Sea to Lampedusa, boats that are then left on the seaside of the island. This violin was meant to be a sign of hope, which may spread, through artcraft and music, awareness of the need for hospitality and integration.
Starting with that violin, in 2022 a quartet (two violins, a viola and a cello) was made and played at the Quirinal Palace (one of the official residences of the President of the Italian Republic). Thanks to my collaboration with Carlo Chiesa’s workshop, I was involved by the Foundation in the making of the cello for this quartet. It was a project I was really honored to take part in and I enjoyed it with my full heart.
After that quartet, the idea was unstoppable and became more ambitious, then making – always in collaboration with the jail workshop – a full camera orchestra. My last effort was working on the making of a double bass and collaborating in the final steps for the other instruments. So, what was in any case a challenge – making a double bass – turned out to be a bigger one, employing this particular wood.
In the making, we try to preserve at most the original varnish of the boat, for keeping their journey memory. That means of course careful work in choosing the wood pieces and in cutting them down. Then, we are working with unusual species of wood, especially cedar, pine and some other more undefined African hardwoods. What I especially love is the colorful look that comes out with preserving the original boat varnish, colors that bring me joy and hope.
Does this instruments sound like a Stradivari? Of course not. Choosing particular wood species, quality, seasoning, etc. is fundamental for having the best sound. This particular wood that comes from boats is not the perfect one and these instruments can be played well, but have different behaviors and resonances than their common classical siblings. Though, I think this is not the heart of this project, to have outstanding sounding instruments. These instruments are witnesses of sorrows and journeys and human research for a better life and shall give strength and involve people who care about their neighbors, against indifference. This is the heart of the project and I fully embrace it. I loved working with this difficult type of wood and trying my best to give it a new chance of life and I think this is the deep metaphor that stands for this project.
Here also comes great news: the instruments are going to be presented in a concert at the Scala Theater in Milano, on 12th February! I will be there to see the instruments I’ve worked on to be played and I am excited and really can’t wait. It was a real honor to work on this project and I want to thank Fondazione Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti for giving me this chance. I will keep this experience deep in my heart.
SOME PICTURES OF THE PROJECT
Working on the first violoncello with the colleague Lucas Basilotta. (1)
Double bass parts and project, before closing the soundbox. (2,3)
Final set up! (4)