Experiments in Artful Participation

Post-doc project by dr. Ties van de Werff, as part of the Artful Participation project

In the 21st century, symphonic music institutions face challenges that endanger their traditional ways of operating. Although symphonic music is widely accessible, it has lost its once position as the leading music culture. Whereas symphonic music was a vital element in the cultural landscape until the 1960s, it has become a museum art form since. 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.

Innovation of the symphonic music practice is not possible without improving the quality of audience participation in this practice. We explore innovation of symphonic music practices, in particularly new and artistically meaningful ways of participation of audiences in the biographies/trajectories of musical works. In my post-doc project, I am especially interested in new ways to articulate and discuss the not-given, emerging value of symphonic music in our contemporary society. How to meaningfully perform relevance and value, based on a participatory orchestral practice?

The participation of audiences in the biography/trajectory of a musical work in the current dominant symphonic practice is organized and performed according to three ideal-typical roles: that of the consumer, the listener and the amateur. Based on ethnographic experimentation and intervention at the South Netherlands Philharmonic, we aim to experiment with new participative roles of the citizen, the maker, and the expert, thus actively involving audiences in programming, making and assessing symphonic music.

Artful Participation is a collaboration between Maastricht University (Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences), Zuyd University of Applied Sciences (Research Centre for Arts, Autonomy & the Public Sphere), and the South Netherlands Philharmonic, and the recently launched Maastricht Centre for the Innovation of Classical Music (MCICM).

Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (Maastricht University) & Research Centre for Arts, Autonomy & the Public Sphere (Zuyd University of Applied Sciences), 2018 – 2021