What can be described as uplifting yet heartbreaking, mind-blowing and melancholic, as well as soulful and exhilarating? If you guessed classical music, you would be right!
Despite this, the global market for classical music education programmes, whether offline or online, is sadly underdeveloped. Moreover, opera houses and orchestras are grappling with the high administrative costs of music education let alone crafting effective music lessons.
"This issue is widespread across Europe," said Luca Picariello, Enterprise Europe Network adviser of NOI Techpark, Bolzano, Italy. He continued: "However, when I met Valeria Told, founder of the startup Fortissimo in July 2021, she presented me with what has emerged as a game-changing solution."
Initially, Valeria wanted to know more about existing funding opportunities for financing its innovative project idea. After the meeting, the Enterprise Europe Network team identified the European programme Creative Europe as the most suitable for the startup and its project idea.
Upon advice of the Network staff, Fortissimo decided to participate in the Creative Europe – Innovation Lab call and thanks to the support of the team at the Network, the project was successfully funded with around EUR 1.7 million.
Multidisciplinary expertise a must
Funding alone, however, hasn’t made Fortissimo what it is today. Valeria knew that her network of interested cultural institutions (13 European opera houses and orchestras at that time) needed partners with expertise in education management and digital/audiovisual competencies. The Network staff had a major role in helping the startup find the European partners it needed.
The first step was to publish an R&D request profile in the Enterprise Europe Network Partnership Opportunities Database. Many expressions of interest were received by the Network colleagues who then contributed by organising the discovery meetings between Fortissimo and the potential new partners in the consortium.
"Thanks to our support and that of other pan-European Network colleagues, we established contact between Fortissimo and various European companies, universities and agencies," Luca outlined. Finally, he told us, five partners with complementary expertise joined the consortium of 24 partners in total from 14 European countries and presented the joint proposal under the Creative Europe programme: the project Fortissimo, soon available in 11 European languages.
Bringing digital opera to young people
Fortissimo is the first EU-wide education project of this magnitude and is only possible through international cooperation – the project is far too expensive for a single partner. “Finding appropriate partners, the Network has helped Fortissimo to completely revolutionise classical music and the way it is taught in schools,” emphasised Luca.
Fortissimo adopts a very playful approach with gamification to connect children with classical music from a very young age. In a wider educational context, classical music promotes attention and concentration. These skills are essential in the world and Fortissimo focuses on them.
All these features are displayed with an app that offers interactive games aimed at getting kids excited about classical music. This is complemented by a dedicated section for teachers, who can find ready-to-use lesson plans and manuals which help them offer classes that appeal to younger classical music enthusiasts.
Perhaps the most stimulating feature of Fortissimo for those young minds is the digital music house, implemented through Virtual Reality. Once inside, the children can open various virtual doors to explore sounds and discover musical instruments that they can use to compose their music alongside an orchestra. The kids can take part in a 360° concert experience or immerse themselves in a ‘chamber of wonders’ where they can listen to their favourite piece and discover its connection to the symphonic world and the history of music in general.
Along a time warp into the future with Fortissimo
The presence of very eminent partners bolstered Fortissimo’s credibility, enhancing the project’s image in the eyes of the EU and leading to its funding. Not only that but partners with digital expertise have helped Fortissimo develop its virtual concert hall.
The Enterprise Europe Network’s assistance has enabled Fortissimo to establish a solid foundation for their project, and they are currently collaborating with the Network further to tackle the next challenge. “Together we will take Fortissimo and its vision into the Metaverse and implement AI solutions for their platform!” Luca concluded.