"With great mourning we have to tell you all that [Mario Hirzinger], our dear friend, keyboardist, song and lyrics writer as well as founder of SERENITY leaves the band as of now...
"We already knew his decision for quite some time and fully understand Mario's wish for something new. Though we hoped to change his mind especially with such a great experience like ProgPower USA, which was always planned as Mario's last appearance with SERENITY. Well — we made him change his mind twice already — but not this time (more on that in his statement).
"The departure of Mario is a fact now and as a result we've been reconstructing SERENITY throughout the year already. We also have fixed arrangements with Mario's successor who will be announced at a later date.
"Mario, we honestly thank you for a great, never forgettable time, lots of cool and funny tour stories, lots of (great) work too,... We will see us for a drink or two."
Mario has released the following statment regarding his departure from SERENITY:
"Dear friends and fans! It took me a long time to think about it and now it's on me to explain my decision.
"Well, to sum it up, even if it may sound strange, I've got to move on. At very first, let me tell you it's got nothing to do with any personal issues, the guys still are and always will be some of my closest friends; I'm very thankful for every single minute I could spend with them in the recent years on stage, on tour, in the rehearsal room, visiting great places all over Europe as well as here in Austria! Of course, there sometimes had been moments of tension and serious discussions, every band knows that, but most of the time we just had great, occasionally quite silly fun, knowing we were a strong team of different characters working together and spending times off work in a meaningful way.
"The main point is, symphonic metal is not my favourite genre — never has been — and my music taste in general has changed in recent times. This year there had been a couple of happenings showing me I've got to seriously change some things in my life and leaving SERENITY is the first one. To be honest, it was not the first time I thought about that. The moment feels right to me now. I will continue creating music and lyrics on my own, also with other people, but without any business pressure or other limitations. Just for fun, just to see what's there 'hidden' in me and waiting to be set free.
"Even if I liked touring and being on stage with SERENITY a lot, I cannot carry on pretending I totally dig this sound and the whole business. I want to be an honest guy and don't want to back something if I'm not really into it. And everyone, especially the fans, deserves honesty here.
"I will move and most probably, if everything works out well, I will begin to study something — at least that's my plan so far, I have the strong feeling that I'm not at the end of my possibilities in life. Leaving the band will also give me some 'space' for all that. Yes, I'm one of the founding members, I gave the band its name back in 2001 and yes, it had been an absolutely great time. But somehow I think I've seen it all now and that chapter should be closed to give way for another one.
"With all those remarkable impressions and great memories — our September gig in Atlanta as 'climax' — I don't quit with a bad feeling. And I won't miss things like driving vans hundreds of kilometres by night and day, fast food on the road, broken backstage showers and toilets, half-full beer cans left behind on a table in the nightliner, dropping off on bumpy roads, all those strange unwritten 'business laws' and the … hm, let's say not really exemplary behaviour of some people in that business. The adrenaline rush right before a show, the cheering of the crowd, the first cold beer after the show, great backstage dinners with all the crew, funny and interesting conversations, getting to know new, sympathetic people, seeing a lot of impressive places especially on off days, the 'wall of sound' when the onstage sound mix is just awesome, the cozy tourbus bunk and feeling like in a cradle in there when travelling by night … these are things I certainly will miss. But one thing I won't have to miss is the friendship with Clèmentine, Georg, Tom, Fabio and Andi, which is highly important for me! And I know I'm very lucky to have these great people in my life.
"So, my dear gooooiiiis ;-), I wish you all the best for the future of SERENITY and all your upcoming plans – hold on to your dreams! I'm already looking forward to some crazy tour stories being told while having a beer or a coffee together!"