The spira mirabilis is a geometrical figure which has a rather peculiar characteristic: no matter its size it is always superimposable to itself. In this very same way our project mantains its identity, regardless of the number of musicians taking part in it or the piece of music which is played. We choose a score from the chamber or symphonic repertoire and we work to develop a coherent and cohesive interpretation, towards which every musician gives a significant contribution and therefore feels the interpretation as his very own.

Although many of us are involved in some of the finest ensembles and orchestras in Europe we felt nonetheless the need to have a creative outlet in which we would be completely in charge of the artistic process and which could offer us the chance of doing something new and challenging, outside of our usual professional setups.

Spira mirabilis is the idea that brings us together.

Studying the music: experiment and risk

1 - Playing without a conductor

It is relatively easy for a group of good musicians to play together without a conductor. In fact, in many cases the concertmaster acts as a conductor, cueing, leading, and rehearsing the orchestra.

Other groups do not use a conductor and include every member’s single contribution in the final rendition of the score, for the sake of democracy, sometimes at the expense of coherence. What we are looking for is a third way in which all the musicians create a unified musical idea, based on a common way of reading and interpreting the text; an idea strong enough to reject any incoherent input, but also flexible enough to include any contribution that might enrich the creative process. The reason why we take the time to shape and work on this “collective thinking” is that we believe it is worth listening to something that is the product of many brains and hearts at work, as opposed to the thinking of one single person leading a group of musicians. This product nonetheless, needs to have a strong and consistent identity.

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2 - Studying period instruments

We take the time every year to play a couple of projects with period instruments (what we have done up to now was Haydn to Beethoven and Rossini on classical instruments).

First of all we do it because it is something we really enjoy, even though for the great majority of us, it is rather new and challenging. We also do it because we strongly believe it is a crucial step to go back to performing on modern instruments, on which we do the majority of our work, and play classical and early romantic repertoire with new and different concepts.

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3 - Taking risks

We are working to be able to react to each other in real time, especially in concert situations. Someone takes an initiative and the rest of the group reacts to it, following a shared musical taste and language.

We take a lot of risks in what we do and how we do it, and sometimes it works and some it doesn't, but the bottom line is that we always do things for a reason. We are also never afraid to change our opinions.

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4 - Playing one single piece

This is one of our experiments which has proved to be rather successful. We usually play only one piece in our concerts: to both focus our energies and the audience's attention.

It is good for us to dedicate a lot of time to one work and it is nice for the audience to make the most of one single listening experience. We also noticed that a lot of people at the end of our concerts were eager to come back, wanting to listen to more. It was great to see that instead of saturating a need for music we were creating it.

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5 - The concert as a sharing experience

Something we often say to our audience is that, for us, the concert is just a little piece of a big puzzle.

We don't think of it as something final but as a picture of us at a certain stage of our maturation and growth. Sharing this picture means sharing our vision: being musicians in the most committed and passionate way. Spira mirabilis does not originate from an undetermined need of an audience: Spira mirabilis shares with the audience the reasons why it exists, and, by sharing them, gets the audience itself involved as an active part of its experience.

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Looking for people, places and meanings

1 - New people

Right from the start of our activity we consciously decided to work outside of the mainstream musical circuit: we looked for quiet and isolated venues in which we could experiment in the ways mentioned previously, and in which we could present our work to an audience very likely not to have heard the piece before: therefore lacking any kind of preconception.

In a small town it is easier to directly connect to the locals during the rehearsal period, establishing human relationships and ties which eventually culminates in the concert experience. It is always extremely touching when a Beethoven, Schubert, or Mendelssohn symphony, studied with intelligence and passion, manages to move people that have possibly never imagined to get in touch with it: for the first time we feel we are truly being listened to. We were not looking for a new audience for classical music but we think we found one, a virgin one, eager to discover and know more about it.

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2 - New places

Classical music is often associated with a certain audience and with certain places: concert halls, theatres, etc.

Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, we felt it is just as important bringing this kind of music to people that would not usually- if ever- go to these certain places: hence our choice of finding new venues for our concerts. Coming to small towns, lacking a proper theatre or concert hall, we often end up playing concerts in places that were not designed to host an event as such; what we also do is performing short “musical intrusions” in places where you would not expect to find classical music and where people had not requested to hear it, like a bar, or the cabin of a travel ship, or a shopping mall. The harder the environmental conditions, (noise, etc.) the more we strive for the highest quality and level of playing, just like we would do in the most formal concert situations. It is not a way to show off or publicise ourselves, but only an attempt to tear down some barriers and offer people- in the most unexpected moments- the opportunity to connect

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3 - Music is a difficult language

A large percentage of people today are either not accustomed to listening to classical music, or are unwilling to stretch the boundaries of their musical experiences or what they listen to.

It is quite common today to try to captivate this kind of audience by programming either: a) a very conservative and “safe” repertory, or b) a program consisting of- as tradition has it- a “difficult” work and another one which is significantly simpler. The idea behind this kind of thinking is that music is all the same and we are able to appreciate anything. We believe that there are many problems in understanding and comprehending classical music today. In many instances the audience gets in touch with a language that may be two or three hundred years old, a language that can be partly or completely dead. It is often hard for the musicians themselves to understand the true meaning of certain music, and we believe that the first step to be taken by us as musicians is to question ourselves constantly during the rehearsal process, trying to find a message and a code to convey this message to other people. It is a process that requires a lot of energy from us and also from the audience, but we think that, for the state of the classical music world today, it is rather a crucial point in giving true meaning to the life of a musician and the experience of the listener.

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