1111Music on the water: the Auditorium at the Giorgio Cini Foundation on the island of San Giorgio
The island of San Giorgio Maggiore, home of the Giorgio Cini Foundation, has been enriched, since not long ago, by an extraordinary new jewel: the Squero. An auditorium with a capacity of 200 seats was created by restoring a XIX century boatyard ("squero" in Venetian dialect), intended for the construction of wooden boats. This is a special auditorium as it combines exceptional acoustics with an extremely striking view; a glass wall opens onto the lagoon, behind the musicians and in front of the public, offering an experience of a concert literally on the water's edge. The Squero's musical vocation was discovered by Pedro Memelsdorff, an internationally renowned musician and director of the Foundation's Early Music seminars. Before the restauration, Memelsdorff visited the place with the Foundation's secretary general Pasquale Gagliardi who explained the difficulties he was having in identifying a suitable use for a building with such unusual characteristics. During the visit Memelsdorff did not just look, but set himself to 'listening', as poets do. He closed his eyes and clicked his fingers, noting the extraordinary acoustics of the space. Gagliardi, who in his role as secretary general has several times given proof of knowing who to bring about the most audacious visions, from the placing of the facsimile of the "Wedding at Cana" Palladio's Cenacolo through to the conversion of the abbey dormitory into a magnificent library, immediately grasped the value of the suggestion and launched the restoration without delay, giving rise to the transformation of the Squero into one of the most striking concert hall in the world. The restoration work was directed by Venetian architects Fabrizio Cattaruzza and Francesco Millosevich. The island of San Giorgio Maggiore, on whose grounds a very somptuous Benedectine abbey once stood and later suppressed by Napoleon in 1806 following the French invasion and the end of the Serenissima, fell into a condition of profound deterioration. In 1951 the abbey was brought back to his ancient splendour by Count Vittorio Cini, authorized by the Italian institutions to restore it by making it the head quarters of the cultural and philantropic foundation named after his son Giorgio, who had died in tragic circumstances. The Giorgio Cini Foundation is now one of the most important cultural institutions in Italy, world-wide known for the quality and variety of its artistic and scientific production. San Giorgio Maggiore is a unique place where the architecture of Andrea Palladio and Baldassarre Longhena merge with major works by Vittore Carpaccio, Jacopo Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese. Having said that, it would be wrong to consider it only a monument of the past. The Foundation's activites have made it into a place of great vitality, visited by scholars, researchers and enthusiasts who appreciate the quality and rigour of its science-related events and, finally, the originality and innovation of its musical and artistic production.
Lo Squero was achieved thanks to the contribution of the Provveditorato Interregionale per le Opere Pubbliche del Veneto, Trentino Alto-Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia and the Virginio Bruni Tedeschi Foundation. It was opened on 23 April 2016.