Tuning the Concert

Gold Arts Award Portfolio

Why Hannah Conway’s approach is musical magic July 17, 2010

Filed under: 1B: research — concerttuning @ 9:16 pm
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After being blown away by her performance at Spitalfields Schools concert, I got in touch with Hannah Conway to find out more about her approach.

I thought the concert was so original that she developed the techniques, but in fact I was reminded that arts outreach and education has been going on for the last 20 years so there is a history of practitioners behind it.

I questioned her technique and Hannah explained she chooses to use gesture, movement and language, as for her it makes the most sense. She gets to the bare bones of what is going on and using hooks in the pieces she helps reveal what the composer does compositionally. Furthermore, she explained how one of the most important things is to be passionate about what you are talking about.

When asked the best way to engage children, she thought that it is best to get them ‘doing’ so that they are active as well as throwing them in the deep end.

I asked Hannah is she would do anything about changing the concert format. Her answer surprised me saying she wouldn’t change it explaining that ‘a concert is a concert’, as the basic format of listening to music has been in place for 100 of years so. For her, it is all about the music and the surrounding things don’t really matter, but it best to find a way to be completely absorbed by the music. However, she did suggest the ideas of a having a mobile audience, playing in unusual venues, encouraging the musicians to talk and respond to questions and cross-collaboration with different artists to encourage a wider audiences to attend concerts. Likewise, she argued that family concerts have been running for a while but may in the future develop their use of multimedia and technology.



New Generation, New ideas June 18, 2010

Filed under: 1D: issues — concerttuning @ 7:11 pm
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The more I research into the issue, the more I discover people and organisations who want to change the face of classical music.

I was recently speaking to a masters graduate of the Royal Academy of Music. The cellist wants to combine her love of opera and chamber music into a new music genre. As well as being a collaborative process between librettist, composer, string quartet and singer, the mini-opera would be less costly making it more feasible to stage in a variety of venues.

The idea is that a story would drive through the whole piece with instrumentalists taking the role of singers. This is an example of adding meaning to the music beyond that of abstract patterns, which would give the audience something to follow while listening to the piece.

If successful, this could be a way to help listeners stay engaged throughout a piece of classical music. While they may not be able to follow the musical narrative, they could latch onto the written narrative which in turn would hopefully enlighten their whole experience of the mini-opera.