– Luke, Brooklyn NY, cello ’04
“Being immersed in this natural and foreign environment was awe-inspiring, and it translated into our music. There is something distinctly different about your will to practice when you’re sitting in a small, ancient stone performance hall that has a window that looks out across green hills and the blue skies of Italy compared to a white-brick basement of a practice room in New Haven! The music repertoire for the chamber orchestra and our chamber groups was both challenging and exciting. Our practicing was very professional in the sense that everyone was well-prepared and we focused intently on detail in a more sophisticated and precise manner than my school orchestra would. We were able to perform at Spannocchia in our chamber groups before dinner during the socializing hour, and gave a nighttime chamber orchestra performance in the outside dining area during our last few days. The Spannocchia folk loved to hear our playing, and we loved to show our appreciation for their hard work and hospitality by sharing our beautiful music. I left Spannocchia feeling musically inspired and as though I had matured and accessed a new level of expression in my own playing.”
– Sydney, Guilford CT, violin 2012
“Thank you so much for providing your students with a superb experience. Like giving a party, the key is who comes, and you invited a great group of youngsters.
“It was instantly clear from looking at their body English at the airport on their return that they had bonded as a group. They arrived at the airport last night animated, exuberant, upbeat, and talkative. Emma was really flying, happy, engaged, smiling. Emma had a wonderful time, and filled us in on all the great things she did.
“When I asked her what she had learned, she thought for a moment and said, ‘A new way of looking at music.’ As music educators, you can’t do much better than that.”
– Parents of Emma, West Hartford CT, cello ‘11, ’12
“Spannocchia feels like home and I absolutely do not want to leave. Spannocchia is large enough to make a visitor feel completely isolated from the 21st century world… yet it is small enough to feel like family immediately. The interns, the staff and others were always friendly and helpful. Even though far from any large city, there is always something to do … swimming, filming the scenery, going on a hike, writing postcards on the terrace, enjoying the beautiful view and of course, practicing the violin. I also loved the food. Being a vegetarian when traveling can sometimes be very hard if not impossible, but there were always delicious meals prepared! This place is simply gorgeous and magical. I wish I had had more time here and definitely hope to return soon. Thank you so much!”
– Julia, Berlin Germany, violin ’11
“Two years ago I had a fantastic two weeks at Spannocchia. I was delighted to return to the villa I fell in love with. New friends, fantastic food and music was all I needed to make this another memorable experience. Thank you for everything! I hope I can come back soon.”
– Andrew, West Hartford CT, violin ’09 and ’11
“I never knew a place could be so wonderful. From the delicious meals to the amazing sunsets, there is nothing I would change about Spannocchia. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to live here for two weeks and study music within these old walls. I will treasure each memory like spotting a cingale one morning, chasing cats through the gardens and sitting on the wall watching the last bits of sunlight leave the sky. I cannot wait to return here to the place where so many things are wonderfully stuck in the past.”
– June, Albany NY, violin/viola ’11
Our group flew into Rome and traveled by bus to Tenuta di Spannocchia, Music Adventure’s headquarters, just south of Siena. We arrived at ten in the morning local time. We had traveled all night so we were all exhausted. Already I could sense the sharp contrast of the Tuscan countryside to the suburbs in Connecticut. There were rolling hills covered with golden grass and trees that shot straight up into the cloudless sky. The castello, where all our rooms were located, is the center of an ancient agricultural estate. Spannocchia is run by a foundation dedicated to sustainable agriculture. They grow nearly all of their food on the property, making it incredibly delicious. It was as if they had preserved an older, simpler time that has been eclipsed by modern society in the rest of the world.
The first thing I did when I got there was to explore the property with the other guys. We explored the castle and the gardens that surrounded it. We fearlessly opened every unlocked door. There was a surprise around every corner. We found what seemed like secret passageways. I felt like I was at Hogwarts. After this adventure, we ate our first dinner out on the terrace. They served four courses and the food was amazing. From that moment I knew it was going to be a great two weeks.
Music Adventure provides an opportunity to experience Italy’s history and culture through its residency at Spannocchia, Italian classes, and visits to towns and cities in Tuscany. The first day trip we took was to Siena. In the heart of this walled medieval city rests a magnificent Duomo. This cathedral is mammoth yet stunning. The exterior is striped black and white, like a zebra, with a tower at one end and a giant marble dome at the other. I marveled at the architecture. Inside, every single square inch of the building was covered with art. In particular, I noticed the symmetrical patterns way up on the ceiling. I wondered how anyone could create something of this magnitude, yet so beautiful, down to the very smallest detail. The idea of creating this church hundreds of years ago blew my mind. Everything in Italy from the architecture to the way people eat meals is different than what I know. I gained a new perspective and realized that the way I live is not the only way to live. I also learned that every place is unique, along with the people who live there.
The main component of the Music Adventure program is, of course, the music. We spent long hours rehearsing, and eventually performing, repertoire for both chamber orchestra and smaller groups such as my string quintet. Eric Dahlin was coaching this group. During my most memorable rehearsal, we were preparing to perform Dvorak’s “American” Viola Quintet Op. 97 the following day. The music sounded better than ever before. Everyone knew their part and could make eye contact with one another to perfectly synchronize the performance. After hearing us play, Eric said something that really stuck with me. “That was great, guys. You really look like you’re enjoying yourselves. It’s fun, just playing chamber music with your friends. In my mind, it just doesn’t get any better than this.” At that point I realized how true that was. The five of us each had a piece of something amazing. However, only through our hard work could the beautiful melodies come together and create the familiar sensation of a truly great performance. This rehearsal was when we could finally see the fruits of our labor, and listen to the music blossom. Not only could I hear the music, but I could understand it. At that moment, I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.
Naturally, there is a sort of kinship associated with spending two weeks with other musicians in Italy. Making new friends had always been somewhat of a challenge for me but the commonality we shared in music made it easier. Through rehearsals and trips to cities, I bonded with the other students. In particular, I had grown close to my roommate. The last night of the program, after packing up our suitcases for our early departure the next morning, we left our room and went out into the cool and refreshing night air. We opened the door leading to Spannocchia’s tower and climbed the wooden stairs, using only our iPods for light. At the top of the tower, we lay down and stared up at the stars while reflecting on our experiences from the last two weeks. The serenity of the night was almost overwhelming. I thought to myself how amazing it was that miles away from home, someone I had not even known just two weeks earlier could share this moment of sheer peace and beauty with me. I will always remember that last night. The connections I made with people in Italy will stay with me forever.
Those two weeks in Italy truly impacted my life. The trip re-invigorated my interest in music. Since my arrival back in Connecticut, I have been practicing the cello more and I have finished composing a piece of music that I hadnt touched in a few years. Staying in Italy shed light on what I like and dislike about America’s culture. And, of course, I have fourteen new friends. The experience also made me think about my future. I am about to embark on one of the most formative adventures of my lifemy college years. I want to apply everything I learned in Italy to my college experience. Music will forever be a source of joy for me. I certainly intend to continue playing the cello but I hope my interest in math and science will develop into a career. I have a renewed interest in school and I want to go out and study both at college and abroad, to experience and learn about different cultures. At college, there are limitless friendships waiting to happen! I know that everyone I meet along my journey will become a small part of who I am. With so many opportunities awaiting me, I am confident that the next few years of my life will be my greatest adventure yet.
– Chris, Windsor CT, cello ’09