Putting Concert Music Performance in its Place:

The Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound as Installation

by Peter Hatch

 

2012

Chapter 12 in “The Art of Immersive Soundscapes”, University of Regina Press, 2012.

Prelude

As an invited artist at the 2004 Art of Immersive Soundscapes summer institute in Regina, Saskatchewan, I am sure the organizers expected me to take advantage of the wonderful octaphonic sound diffusion system which had just been installed at the University of Regina. I spoke to the organizers about the possibility of doing something quite different: instead of immersing the audience within a world of sound, I wished to immerse my sounds within the world of the public. The result was the first of a series of Guerilla Sound Events, which I will describe later in this essay. My approach to this concept of sonic “immersion” grew out of creative work I have been doing for years, both as a composer and as a curator of events such as the Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound. Recently, I have become interested in combining these interests in a study of curatorial practices in music. In this paper I will examine the perspective of the Open Ears festival as a giant sound installation, performed and installed throughout the city of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

 

Concert Music Spaces

 

I live next door to the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society, also known as the Music Room, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Although this name may conjure up the image of a quaint 19th century concert hall or perhaps a room in a community centre, the KWCMS is housed in an old home, set on the edge of a park. The music performed there is true chamber music in the original sense of the term: music performed in a palace chamber or some other comparatively small, intimate room. The seventy or so concerts presented there each year are advertised by word of mouth, by a dedicated email list, and by a thorough dispersion of home-printed 8 1⁄2 x 11 inch photocopied posters spread through Kitchener- Waterloo by one of the main organizers, Jan Narveson, a now-retired philosophy professor. The audience arrives through the side door (one of the posters taped onto a post in the lawn outside, assuring them that “this is the place”) and into a small vestibule lined with bookcases full of decades-old National Geographic magazines and the like. After purchasing tickets in the kitchen (with either Jan, his wife Jean, or a volunteer taking tickets), the audience proceeds upstairs to what appears to be a large living room with its bookshelves lined with LPs. The “stage” is a small corner of the room surrounded by up to eighty-five chairs, the front row literally inches from the performers. i

 

Acoustically the room is far from ideal, with a reverberation time of perhaps a half second and very little reflected sound possible when filled with an audience. Nevertheless, this space attracts some of the world’s top performers and audiences frequently near capacity who are eager to experience chamber music in a truly intimate setting, armed both with a sense of adventure and an intention to participate in highly concentrated listening. KWCMS’s posters are of the format used by organizations advertising folk song circles, club parties or raves. The location, kitchen ticket salesi and general ambience suggest a Newfoundland kitchen party. The performers and instruments featured, and (especially) the list of composers named, identify it as a classical music concert, while the informal dress code and presentation suggest otherwise. As a folk music gathering, the KWCMS would likely be considered mainstream. As a concert music venue, it is “alternative”.

Traditional Concert Halls

 

The traditional concert hall grew out of rooms not unlike the KWCMS Music Room. In the early days of classical music, chamber music was performed in dedicated rooms in the homes of aristocrats. In his book Buildings for Music, Michael Forsyth discusses how, before the development of concert halls: Music was already performed widely in private circles at the palaces and princely courts of Europe, where performances generally took place in any suitable ballroom, drawing room, salon, or hall. These rooms had not necessarily been built solely for music, as orchestral music....Even if, in the original design of a residence, a room was set aside for concerts, it would generally differ little from any other room, except perhaps in decorative detail or the addition of a gallery. ii

The public “concert hall” as we know it did not become common until the 18th century when the burgeoning middle classes and the popularity of music demanded larger, specialized symphony and opera venues. Although musical acoustics were far from an exact science, these spaces were geared towards concentrated listening. They were also elegant social gathering places for the privileged. When classical concert halls developed, their architectural design reflected the history of musicians as servants performing within the household of an aristocrat. At the same time, their acoustic design was reminiscent of the “sacred” space of the church: musicians in these spaces were both servants and priests.

 

Christopher Small comments on how traditional concert halls are built to keep performers separated from the audience:

The auditorium’s design not only discourages communication among members of the audience but also tells them that they are there to listen and not talk back.... Nor does the design of the building allow any social contact between performers and listeners. It seems, in fact, designed expressly to keep them apart. It is not only that the orchestra musicians enter and leave the building by a separate door from the audience...but also that the edge of the platform forms a social barrier that is for all practical purposes as impassable as a brick wall. iii

 

The concert halls retained their status as social gathering places for an elite class. Even today the socializing, both pre- and post- concert, that goes on in the various gathering areas in and around the corridors surrounding Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw seems almost as important as the music that goes on within the great hall and, for many attendees, New York’s Metropolitan Opera House is as much a place to see and be seen as it is to hear opera.

 

Large concert halls became so popular that they seemed to become “must-haves” for any respectable community. The idea of presenting “classics” in these familiar and ritualized surroundings is still considered an important part of a “respectable” city in many parts of the world. The danger is, of course, that rituals may become strictly habitual and classics may turn into commodities. In many symphony halls, standing ovations appear to be almost automatic for any concerto performance, whereas the spontaneous applause or shouts of “bravo” which occurred during many 19th century performances of concerti are almost never to be heard. The success of live performances by present day classical musicians is often measured against those captured on highly edited compact disc recordings.

 

In recent years, the formal concert hall environment has become problematic for many. Max Wyman, in his book The Defiant Imagination, cites a study of music habits in the US and UK, published in the Policy Studies Institute’s Cultural Trends magazine in 2002, which “showed the stuffiness of classical music concerts in Britain threatened to turn off an entire generation of potential audiences. Attendance by individuals under the age of 47 dropped sharply in the 1990s.... Among the reasons cited: the formality, elitism and “authoritarian” image of cultural institutions.” iv 

Greg Sandow cites similar reports conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts. v

 

Use of Alternative Spaces

In reaction to charges of “elitism” and “authoritarianism” and in an attempt to rejuvenate the concert experience, classical and post-classical groups have started choosing to perform outside the concert halls designed for them. In moving away from traditional concert spaces there is also the possibility of recontextualizing the music presented.

 

Using “alternative venues” for concert music, especially new music, has become increasingly common within Canada and North America, a trend supported by government arts funding programs. Recently, the Canada Council reinstituted its “Music in Alternative Spaces” program, with much of the money going towards art galleries presenting music as part of their programming. Similarly, the Canadian Music Centre’s “New Music, New Places” program has resulted in many Canadian composers having their work presented in unusual contexts, including beaches, riversides, malls, wineries, and airports. Partly driven by the “outreach” funding from these sources, ensembles previously only found in concert halls are now showing up in all kinds of venues, from clubs and dance theatres to building atriums, barns, abandoned factories and a variety of outdoor sites. Classically trained musicians are now found somewhat frequently in places like Toronto’s Transac club and Montreal’s Casa del Popolo. Symphony orchestras regularly appear in parks, shopping malls, public schools, and soup kitchens.

 

Some musical organizations have made presentations in alternative spaces part of their core identity. The Sound Symposium in Newfoundland has been presenting work in unusual venues for years; for example, specially composed Harbour Symphonies sound the horns of ships docked in the harbour and can be heard throughout downtown St. John’s. Vancouver’s Redshift ensemble has the use of alternative urban spaces as part of its core mandate and has presented concerts in the atrium of Vancouver’s Public Library and around a lake in Stanley Park. Toronto’s Music Gallery has found itself (more by necessity than choice) housed in a church (as has New York City’s Worldless Music series). An interesting development at the Music Gallery has been the discovery of the “sacred” space of the church by post-rock and indie bands (featured in its pop-avant programming) just as classically trained musicians are moving out to perform in local clubs.

 

Some of the most remarkable uses of alternative spaces can be found in the work of iconic Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, particularly in his mammoth twelve-part series of environmental music dramas Patria (begun in 1965). In his essay “The Theory of Confluence II” Schafer talks about the need to: accomplish an art that engages all forms of perception....[W]e need not only to strip down the walls of our theatres and recording studios, but also the walls of our senses. We need to breathe clean air again; we need to touch the mysteries of the world in the little places and the great wide places; in sunrises, forests, mountains, and caves and if need be snowfields or tropical jungles. vi

 

Schafer’s works often take place in highly unusual places and at striking times of day. His work Patria 6: Ra begins at sunset and ends at sunrise—audience members walk from scene to scene in robes and take part in activities which include sipping tea and taking a nap. Attending a concert of his Patria the Prologue: Princess of the Stars involves being bused into a location beside a wilderness lake before sunrise: the performance begins at daybreak with the ethereal sounds of a mezzo-soprano stationed far away on the other side of the lake.

 

Acoustic Matches

 

One of the attractions of alternative spaces is the opportunity to make use of striking acoustics—a shopping mall or business tower’s atrium may be one of the only spaces apart from a large concert hall and church with a reverberation time considered optimum for acoustic music (around 1.5 to 3 seconds). These spaces can conjure up the illusion of a large concert space, with each space having its own “aural architecture,” as Barry Blesser and Linda Salter put it, separate from its “visual” architecture.vii

 

Less optimal acoustic spaces are often compensated for, or even replaced by, amplification systems. In many ways, our reference point for musical sound is now amplified sound—music today is listened to primarily through loudspeakers, whether our mode of experiencing it is a radio, car stereo, iPod, television, movie theatre, elevator, or shopping mall. Pure acoustic music is a rarity—even most acoustic musicians perform though loudspeakers. For instance, the traditional Irish band Danu appeared at a local church several years back as an amplified group despite the acoustic environment they were placed in, one that was almost perfect for their acoustic sound. It seems that, after years of having to adapt to poor acoustic environments by using amplification, they had simply lost the ability to play with one another acoustically.

 

Nevertheless, one of the attributes of much classical and post-classical music is its emphasis on acoustic sound, so that moving into spaces not designed for acoustic music can pose huge challenges. Many spaces suffer not just from very short reverberation times but from high ambient noise levels caused by refrigeration units, traffic noise, crowd chatter, telephones, etc. Frequently musicians try to perform in such spaces which “look great” only to find that they really can not be heard. A string quartet asked to play at a large, noisy social function in a beautiful garden is a common example of this. The use of amplification to try and overcome ambient levels can be a problematic solution—many, many concerts have suffered from badly miked instruments played through an inferior sound system—the levels often mixed by someone used to working only with amplified sound and therefore not familiar enough with the acoustic sound they are trying to represent.

 

Despite these challenges, with careful planning a pairing of an “alternative” acoustic sound environment and the events within it can produce a sound as beautiful as that of music within a concert hall and each unique pairing of event and environment produces a hybrid experience, highlighting the dialogue that occurs between any sounding event and its acoustic environment. Blesser and Salter comment:

 

The experience of listening to a sermon in a cathedral is a combination of the minister’s passionate articulation and spatial reverberation. A performance of a violin concerto combines the sounds of musical instruments with the acoustics of the concert hall. The soundscape of a forest combines the singing of birds with the acoustic properties of hills, dales, trees and turbulent air. To use food as a metaphor, sonic events are the raw ingredients, aural architecture is the cooking style, and, as an inseparable blend, a soundscape is the resulting dish.viii

 

However, there is more to this mixture than acoustic sound. The moment one enters a space not designed for concert performance, one begins a dialogue with that space and its “voice,” which includes its function and the people, past and present, which have used the space.

 

Social Acoustics

 

An awareness of, and tampering with, the traditional “frame” within which music is presented mirrors similar changes in curatorial approaches in the visual arts, where “the white box” is seen as just one alternative to presenting art. The post-modern notion of moving from the presentation of the “art object” to stressing multiple interpretations and identities is at the heart of more recent art museum curatorial practices. As long ago as 1969, a UNESCO conference entitled “Problems of the Museum of Contemporary Art in the West” developed a statement by leading European gallery directors that “put a question mark against the old museum structures, still based on the principle of artistic performance. Nowadays, while the artist is still taken as the starting-point, attention is more focused on the community.” ix

 

Recent curatorial practice presents an artist’s work within a much broader contextual field than earlier practices (which often featured “great art” works and accompanying titles alone within a neutral environment), and in a manner that invites multiple interpretations. In her article “Showtime: Curating Live Art in the 1990s” Lois Keidan explains that: “Who the work might actually be addressing is as various as the nature of the practice—new audiences, new spaces, the academy, potential programmers, the field itself. The representational relationship here is primarily as facilitator.”x Art galleries now commonly offer wide-ranging interpretative approaches to an artist’s work; for example, a recent show on Canada’s Emily Carr showed not just her well-known paintings but art and artifacts of the First Nations people that greatly influenced her work, as well as some of her lesser-known commercial work.

 

Presenting Carr’s work this way not only explains the cultural influences within her work but contextualizes Carr’s work within the society in which she lived: Carr’s art stands beside other cultural artifacts of her time and place rather than apart (or even “above”) them. The show illuminated a much wider cultural area than just Carr’s art.

 

In a similar way, using alternative spaces moves concert music out of the concert hall but it also moves it out of the associated traditions, rituals and expectations and into a new relationship with “the community”. Recontextualization of concerts results in new and hybrid rituals and traditions. In the case of the KWCMS “Music Room” mentioned earlier, classical music is presented in a very different context than the traditional concert halls described earlier. Having audiences literally “rubbing shoulders” and sharing tea with performers stands in great contrast to the divisions between audience and performers analysed by Christopher Small. Performers in this context are less “servants” or “priests” and more “friends” or “neighbours,” albeit ones with particular musical talents. The concert experience at KWCMS may seem a bit bewildering to those accustomed only to traditional concert halls, but in general the atmosphere encourages a wonderful inclusiveness which cuts through audience members’ varying degrees of musical expertise.

 

The Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound

 

I am the artistic director of the Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound, a biennial festival based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. The focus of the Open Ears festival is on the act of listening. With a mix of local, national and international artists, our events have featured concerts from traditional ensembles such as string quartet, orchestra, and choir to turntable art, musique actuelle, outdoor electroacoustic events, multi-media, and dance. A late-night series concentrates on cutting edge work from the world of live electroacoustic and improvised music. Concerts are presented indoors and out, in traditional concert halls and churches as well as in alternative spaces, including several buildings which have been abandoned for many years and are brought to life for the festival. Sound installations are presented both in traditional galleries and in “found” spaces.

 

In fact, we normally use more than a dozen different venues. Attempts are made to find events that resonate well with their venues, both physically and culturally, although sheer logistics make this activity more of a serendipitous art than a craft. When I go into a space I am checking out for Open Ears, often the first thing I do is to clap my hands or cluck my tongue. This is my way of “seeing” the aural environment of that space, of “looking around” at it and deciding if it is suitable for my needs. The important element is not the actual sound (I know well what my clapping hands or clucking tongue sound like) but the reverberation—the resonance I hear in response to it. As Alvin Lucier shows us so eloquently in his I am Sitting in a Room (a piece in which a text is continuously played back into a room and rerecorded until the acoustic of the performance space causes the text literally to disintegrate), each acoustic environment has its own resonant “personality”. But the resonance of each of these spaces extends beyond pure acoustical factors like reverberation time. I see this physical act of testing acoustics as a metaphor for what I do as an artistic director on a conceptual level—I clap my idea into the social environment and listen for its cultural resonance. I consider the idea, “how about a concert of string quartet music here?” or, “how about an amplified sound installation here?” within the context of both the city and the venue in which it is to be presented. The resonant environment speaks back both in terms of physical sound and through its social/cultural heritage. For example, placing a string quartet in an old, abandoned department store not only made use of its “optimum” reverb time but created a dialogue with the idea of cultural heritage in a building in danger of demolition (and now, happily, the home to the Waterloo Regional Children’s Museum.)

Festival as Sound Installation

 

We have traditionally started each Open Ears Festival with an event we call “Klang,” in which we ring all of downtown Kitchener’s church bells, thus announcing our wish to “resonate” the city sonically. It also represents a different, “top down,” approach to programming: we begin with the city and end with the details of the programming.

 

I try to think of the Open Ears Festival as a kind of giant sound installation, spread throughout downtown Kitchener for a fixed period of time. The festival shares two defining features of sound installations: their privileging of the aural over the visual and their time based, performative nature, as environments in which one is encouraged to wander. Of course, the scale is quite different: sound installations are typically housed within constrained areas that can be experienced in one continuous period of time. By contrast, the Open Ears Festival takes place within a radius of a few kilometers (it is designed so that it is possible to walk from event to event) and over a period of six to ten days. Transitions are important. Walking through the city (often past the street people and construction sounds that symbolize Kitchener’s evolution as a city) may be considered part of the festival’s activities. In a sense, the intervals between events are like the silence between the movements of a musical work: they work to create a sense of continuity between what has just been heard and what is still to come.

 

The idea of “open ears” is to provide an environment in which people can interact with their physical and social surroundings, but primarily with their ears. We do this through activities such as our soundwalks, where people are taken on a walk while various soundmarks (from running water to buses to factory noises) are pointed out. Great attention is paid to the environments our concerts are placed in, from the acoustic of the hall to the quality of the sound equipment. The range of presentation venues is an important element in the festival: our ears and attention prick up when in a different acoustic, and walking through downtown Kitchener between events connects us to the city, and to the rest of the world, in a way that staying in one location never would.

 

We try to present artists who are engaged in similar dialogues through their work, especially musicians who are expert at using a given venue’s acoustic properties to maximal effect. Gordon Monahan, in his New and Used Furniture Music (2003), was able to resonate the structure the audience was seated on through low frequencies produced by his theremin, creating a powerful throbbing effect, not just audibly but literally “felt” by the audience.

 

One of our more successful evenings was a concert in 2005 that juxtaposed performance artist Diamanda Galas performing in a church, with a concert by the politically charged group Negativland performing in Kitchener’s city hall council chambers (and actually sitting in the councilors’ chairs). The dialogue at these events was interesting in that what went on inside the venue was at almost exact odds to its usual function. Galas’ gothic appearance and message of darkness, evil and despair challenged, and was challenged by, the Christian heritage of the church. In the Negativland concert, the city hall council chamber (emblematic of order, policy and rules) was filled with the sounds of the band’s anarchic, chaotic, rule-breaking themes and sounds. The “counterpoint” between act and space was integral to each event.

 

At our 2007 festival we presented Legion of Memory, a site specific theatre production created by Kitchener theatre director, Andy Houston. The production was inspired by, and took place at, Kitchener’s Legion Hall, formerly a social club for war veterans. By 2007, the building had been vacant for a number of years, with much detritus from decades of social events left lying about the space. Legion of Memory was based on extensive research into the history of the building and its occupants, interviews with Legionaires, and current issues such as immigration and Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan. Houston’s work was truly “site-specific,” drawing its ideas from the site in which the piece was performed. He contrasts this idea with work that is simply “installed” in its venue without reference to that venue’s historical or social context.

 

Legion of Memory took place throughout the three-floor building, with the audience completely immersed, and at times participating, in the performance. At one point the audience, who generally moved freely (with loose guidance) through the space, was invited into the Legion’s kitchen (the floor left in its “found” state, with broken pipes and old equipment strewn about) where a performer spoke to them while cooking soup. Similarly, they participated in a dance contest hosted by a slightly crazed DJ. Other “found objects” (such as old newspaper articles) decorated the space. A twelve-part audio diffusion system helped bring the space alive by surrounding the audience with a mix of “environmental” and musical sounds— these sounds mixed seamlessly with the acoustic sounds coming from the performers and audience. The work was noteworthy for its resonance with the building, its former occupants, and the issues surrounding their tenure there. Months later, the building still reverberated from the performance. Formerly just an “interesting old building,” it now lives on with a redeveloped personality for those who were in attendance.

 

My own Guerilla Sound Events, presented at the 2005 festival, literally “take to the street” in addressing issues of acoustical and cultural engagement. As sound-based spontaneous public interventions, they challenge notions of the performative “fourth wall” by circulating operatically singing cell phone users and performative sound installations through unsuspecting urban crowds. The venue is the city itself. My Guerrilla Sound Events are created in such a way as to respect the theatre of everyday life in which they are presented: they come and go with the ordinary flow of people and time. All levels of interaction (including no interaction) are acceptable, and the range of reaction to these pieces has been amazing. The same “scene” might have some people ignoring it completely while others nearby are literally moved to tears.

 

Challenges

Working with alternative venues forces us to deal with technical issues never found in regular concert venues. In 1998, the Open Ears Festival presented a concert in an old school theatre that had been boarded up for years. To do so involved literally punching a hole in the back wall of the stage area to bring in electricity, calling in plumbers to resuscitate old washrooms, and housing volunteers at all exits in case of fire. All of this work was accomplished with the huge participation of the City of Kitchener’s staff members, many of whom had been students at the former high school, and were now in positions of power as fire marshal, insurance expert, etc. Similarly, our production of Legion of Memory was in question almost up to the time of the first concert, with repeat performances in doubt as well, all due to technical issues related to fire safety. That these events happened at all was due to heroic efforts on behalf of not just of festival crew, but of city officials and workers. It is possible that Kitchener’s modest size promotes a level of cooperation that would be harder to achieve in a larger city.

 

Sometimes the way an event and a venue are interpreted by its audience can differ dramatically. For example, a few years ago the Guelph Jazz Festival (just down the road from Kitchener-Waterloo) brought in Supersilent, a Norwegian electronic improvisation group known for its ambient sound created by the “pop” instrumentation of guitars and drums. Theoretically, they were a great fit for a late night presentation in a downtown shopping mall, and their cross-over music was something that might appeal to university students returning to a new school term. Indeed, the long reverberation time of the mall was a very good fit for Supersilent’s ambient sound, which could be experienced either close up, with a clearly defined sonic and visual image, or far away where a heavily reverberating “wash” of sound was unconnected to a visual image of the band playing. What was not foreseen is that the mall environment encouraged students to do what they always do in malls—talk—with music assumed to be experienced in the background. Part of this response may have been related to visual cues. Without a proper stage and an elaborate lighting system, the group was somewhat lost visually, and only a small crowd gathered closely around the group could really see them. They were the only ones listening attentively; throughout the rest of the space people chatted and socialized while what seemed like very strange “Muzak” played on in the background. This was okay for some, but for others who had come to experience a “concert” as opposed to background music, it was an alienating experience.

 

One Open Ears concert featured the combination of harpsichord and Chinese zheng –two instruments with established histories as “women’s instruments” and performed by female soloists. This concert was accompanied by the surprising last-minute addition of the sounds of a soup kitchen in the adjoining room. Whether or not these sounds and/or their associations with “traditional women’s work” was a bother or a bonus (or even noticed) differed from individual to individual in attendance.

 

Classical music presents particular challenges: the social/cultural association of classical music with the traditional concert hall is so strong that tampering with its rituals is almost a taboo. Linda Smith’s and John Oswald’s Orchestral Tuning Arrangement was performed by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony at the 1999 edition of Open Ears. This work plays with the ritual of musicians tuning their instruments on stage just before an orchestral concert. At one point, two members of the orchestra actually get up and hug each other. Not all of the members of the orchestra seemed to appreciate this effort at adding more humanity to this opening tradition. At the concert, one musician made his own “guerilla” addition by showing up for a few moments at the back of the orchestra, dressed as a gorilla. His mockery not only derailed the sincere intentions of Smith’s and Oswald’s piece, but itself transgressed the strict protocol expected of orchestral musicians to faithfully to follow the music’s instructions.

 

On the flip side, the relationship between classical music and “alien” environments can be antagonistic enough to be weapon-like. The Kitchener City Hall successfully used piped-in classical music as a deterrent against groups of teenagers who had developed the habit of hanging out by the front doors afterhours. The teens’ sense of cultural identity was so alien to that of classical music that they choose to go somewhere else to socialize.

 

Postlude

 

The Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound is just one among many initiatives to enliven the culture of contemporary classical music in Canada and to use “alternative” venues to try and do so. This increased activity promises to help change concert music culture in unexpected ways. For example, the Canadian Music Centre’s “New Music, New Places” program “offers the general public an incredible opportunity to experience first-hand the creativity of our Associate Composers. [It] is designed to bring Canadian contemporary music out of the concert halls and into the lives of Canadians.”xi But the real reward of programs that bring music into alternative spaces is perhaps not just the exposure of new audiences to the world of music but the exposure of musicians to the worlds of the audiences.

 

Any use of an alternative space involves substantial work by a group of individuals from varied backgrounds who must sort out a host of logistical, technical and political issues from setting up a temporary box office to addressing fire regulations. Producing concerts in “real world” environments can not help but have an impact on all the people involved. Artists learn to respect the responsibilities of city bureaucrats just as city workers learn to respect the often-strange requests of artists.

 

Christopher Small uses the inclusive, active verb “musicking” to refer to anyone involved in the production of a musical event:

...whether by performing, by listening, by rehearsing or practicing, by providing material for performance (what is called composing) or by dancing. We might at times extend its meaning to what the person is doing who takes the tickets at the door or the hefty men who shift the piano and the drums or the roadies who set up the instruments and carry out the sound checks or the cleaners who clean up after everyone else has gone. They, too, are all contributing to the nature of the event that is a musical performance. xii

 

These other kinds of “musicking” become more exposed when concerts move out of traditional concert halls and the concert experience is revealed as a much broader “performance”, involving many more people than composers, performers and audience. An expanded perspective on the musical experience helps create a broader, more inclusive environment for all involved and points to a new sense of “place” for concert music.

 

Footnotes

i Remarkably, the series exists with no government or foundation revenue, relying instead on ticket sales and audience donations for revenue

 

ii Michael Forsyth, Buildings for Music (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1985), 21.

 

iii Christopher Small, Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1998), 27.

 

iv Max Wyman, The Defiant Imagination (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 2004), 129.

 

v Greg Sandow, blog: “The Future of Classical Music?” at www.gregsandow.com.

 

vi R. Murray Schafer, Patria: The Complete Cycle (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2002), 93.

 

vii Barry Blesser and Linda-Ruth Salter, Spaces Speak, Are You Listening?: Experiencing Aural Architecture (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2007), 5, 7.

 

viii Ibid., 15.

 

ix Georges Henri Rivière, et al, “Problems of the Museum of Contemporary Arrt in the West: Exchange of Views of a Group of Experts” in UNESDOC Museum: XXIV, 1 (1972), 5-6. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/Ulis/cgibin/ulis.pl?catno=2576&set=493E742F_0_270&gp=0&lin=1

 

x Lois Keidan, “Showtime: Curating Live Art in the 1990s” in Curating: The Contemporary Art Museum and Beyond, edited by Anna Harding (London: Academy Group, 1997), 39.

 

xi Canadian Music Centre New Music in New Places, Events

http://www.musiccentre.ca/nmi.cfm

 

xi Small, Musicking,