The project’s aims are:
- to showcase and share internationally the growing portfolio of activities that comprise ‘being a composer in the 21st century’ with a particular focus on activities bringing the composers into direct contact with audiences such as:
- composer-curators (ie, composers involved in programming or organising events)
- composers in education
- to build connections and networks between the participating composers and the wider networks of each Section with a view to longer term co-operation and exchange
- to engender a sustained debate and active research into the changing professional life and context for composers internationally, through identifying commonalities and differences between the participating composers and their host ISCM Sections
The project seeks both to support ISCM Member mobility, and to encourage ISCM dialogue, by:
- facilitating 2 composers from each of the four countries (eight composers in total) to participate, as a cohort, in a reciprocal exchange and networking programme of activity in each of the four partner countries
- enabling participating composers to meet together three times, once in each partner country, for at least 3 days each visit
- collaborating between the selected composers and the host Sections in devising a programme of events in each country designed:
- to showcase and share interesting examples of composers being involved in activities such as programming or curation, or music education, that bring them into direct contact with audiences – so for example, attending a composer-led festival like Sounds of Stockholm; joining education activities; participating in a symposium
- to offer productive face-to-face networking opportunities and introductions with key contacts of the host Section
The idea for the project stemmed from the submitters shared observations on the growing number of ways in which composers in our different countries were approaching the business of ‘being a composer in the 21st century’, and that, although these were manifesting in different ways in different contexts, underpinning them all seemed to be a profound shift towards composers seeking more control over how their work was programmed, publicised and presented, and in how they related to audiences. For example:
In Britain there is a sudden explosion in numbers of companies and festivals set up, produced and programmed by composers independently of established organisations, often taking place in unconventional venues and attracting new audiences using the direct relationships offered by social media.
In Croatia, there is a high border between the official (academic) and alternative (underground) musical scenes that is not related to artistic content, but with the politics they (sometimes even not aware of it) proclaim. Of course, the relative position of this divergent creative infrastructure (composer, institution, school, music group, festival etc.) has an impact on the aesthetics, so unfortunately this double (separate, not communal, not exchanging) climate, has had a negative impact on the contemporary music scene. The communicative structure is lost and the academic part of the music scene is losing the capability of perceiving (or even wanting of perceive) the audience’s (or society’s) needs, and is starting to seem self-contained.
In Estonia, during the last years an increasing number of composers have become engaged as artistic directors or programmers of events, sometimes in long-term close collaboration with some musicians or ensembles. Also the role as an educator both to the concert audiences as well as directly in schools has grown noticeably.
In Sweden there is a growing swell of opinion in the artist and composer community towards ‘taking control from the bureaucrats back into the hands of the artists’
The submitters believe that there could be great benefit to the participants, the partner Sections and indeed to ISCM more broadly in
- enabling composers to learn from each other through observing different activities involving composers and how that affects the composer-audience relationship, and having time as a group to reflect. At present, composers can feel isolated nationally and may be addressing the same issues but in different countries. They need to be supported in connecting to each other – this is very much in the spirit of why the ISCM was originally established.
- enabling direct, close and personal links to be made between participants and important networks and key contacts in each other’s countries, leading to a number of longer-term collaborative activities as a legacy of the project
- as a programme of action research, in that participating composers will be asked to document their experiences through blogging, filming etc, and working together to produce a short report sharing what they have learnt together, which all the host Sections will make publicly available. We would also like to suggest that, should the project be supported, we make a presentation during WMD 2014, since we are confident that the programme of activity will lead to some relevant and stimulating insights into how composers and audiences can relate to each other in new ways, which will be of interest to the wider ISCM community