Projects

Artful Participation: Doing Artistic Research with Symphonic Music Audiences

In the 21st century, symphonic music institutions face challenges that endanger their traditional Modus Operandi. Although symphonic music is widely accessible, it has lost its previous position as the leading source of musical culture. The numbers of visitors are declining. Audiences are ageing. Due to budget cuts, government funding is no longer guaranteed. Whereas symphonic music was a vital element in the cultural landscape until the 1960s, it has since become a museum art form. In an “experience society”, the social value of classical orchestral music has changed profoundly. For example, its identification with high culture is no longer valued. In this project, the world of the symphony orchestra is studied as an exemplary case in scientific and artistic research on cultural reproduction in the 21st century. The project claims that innovation of the symphonic music practice is impossible without also improving the quality of audience participation in this practice.

Artful Participation combines strategic research into reasons for the declining interest in symphonic music with artistic research to innovate this practice in an artistically relevant way. This artistic research takes place in three experiments with new forms of audience participation. In the current symphonic practice, audiences are performed as listener, consumer or amateur.  The project will experiment with the new roles of maker, citizen and expert, thus actively involving audiences in programming, making and assessing symphonic music. The reflection on these experiments will result in a Learning model that will help to innovate the classical music practice.

The research project ‘Artful Participation: Doing Artistic Research with Symphonic Music Audiences’ has been funded by NWO/SIA.

Project leaders:
Dr. Peter Peters (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) and dr. Ruth Benschop (Research Centre for Arts, Autonomy and the Public Sphere)

Partners:

  • Zuyd University of Applied Sciences / Research Centre for Arts, Autonomy and the Public Sphere / Conservatory Maastricht
  • philharmonie zuid-nederland

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Symphonic Orchestras and their Audiences: Contemporary Participation in Practice

In the twenty-first century, symphonic music institutions are experiencing problems: the number of visits is declining and audiences are ageing. A lack of possibilities for ‘participation’ by the audience is often put forward as reason for the declines. Recently, in attempts to solve this problem, orchestras and research institutes have started to develop innovative presentation formats to better engage both new and existing audiences. However, it remains unclear what the problem exactly is and how the decline in audience numbers is related to the ways in which audiences participate (or don’t participate) in classical concerts. The aim of my project is, through ethnographic fieldwork, to figure out how the meanings given to symphonic music are related to participation in the everyday practices of orchestras.

In this research, I will empirically investigate how participation varies across actors and activities in symphonic practices, how the materiality of these practices shapes the possibilities for participation, and what meanings and values are given to symphonic music in practice. By means of participant observations and qualitative interviews, I will map the interrelations between orchestras and their audiences in the daily practices of symphonic orchestras in the Netherlands. In researching these practices, I draw upon both science and technology studies and cultural studies to develop a focus on the socio-material contexts of symphonic music as well as the aesthetic experiences that are central to them.

This PhD research is part of the NWO/SIA-funded project ‘Artful Participation: Doing Artistic Research with Symphonic Music Audiences’ led by Peter Peters (Maastricht University) and Ruth Benschop (Hogeschool Zuyd) in collaboration with the South Netherlands Philharmonic (project number: 314-99-204).

Project-PhD: Veerle Sponck, MSc

Supervisors: Prof. Sally Wyatt, Dr. Peter Peters, and Dr. Ruth Benschop

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Observing and Intervening: Doing Classical Music Experiments

In order to conduct practice-based research that learn through experimentation and intervention, the project examines how to do so. This Postdoc project builds the theoretical context of the experiments in the Artful Participation project. And vice versa, the experiments are the empirical object of this strategic research project. Theoretically it draws on ethnography and experimentation “in the wild”. Ethnography’s self-reflexive practice is an important starting point for artistic research (Benschop 2015). First, we draw inspiration from Ingold’s notion of “the art of inquiry” (2013). Ingold argues that the fundamental task of the anthropologist is not to gather data and build knowledge, but to learn from the practices in which she emerges herself in order to speculate about future possibilities. The art of inquiry involves acquiring craftsmanship and training a cunning that also, for instance, belongs to hunting. This focus on learning by making is complemented with recent research within STS asking what happens when the laboratory is taken outside. Callon & Rabeharisoa, 2003; Mann et.al., 2011; and Marres, 2012, focussing on different authentic problems (tasting, patient involvement, sustainability), provide insights into the ways in which experimentation functions outside academia, with other participants involved in the production and distribution of knowledge. The project will translate this research in practice to the context of participation in symphonic music practice.

This Postdoc research is part of the NWO/SIA-funded project ‘Artful Participation: Doing Artistic Research with Symphonic Music Audiences’ led by Peter Peters (Maastricht University) and Ruth Benschop (Hogeschool Zuyd) in collaboration with the South Netherlands Philharmonic (project number: 314-99-204).

Project leader:
Dr. Ties van de Werff (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)

Partners:

  • Zuyd University of Applied Sciences / Research Centre for Arts, Autonomy and the Public Sphere / Conservatory Maastricht
  • philharmonie zuidnederland