Pedagogical Projects

Mediation of new music

The attempt to help new listeners of all ages become familiar with new music, its langauges and vocabularies, its material and intentions, usually and understandably concentrates on the basics: the opening of ears, the awareness of sounds and noises, the elimination of prejudice. An immediacy and enjoyment of making music should be encouraged.

It seems, however, much more difficult to approach the art works of contemporary high culture. Someone who has opened himself to new music in the ways described above is likely to find, on visiting a festival, that there is still a very long way to go and will perhaps still be alienated by the strange work of art. The mediation of new music can attempt to address and deal with this phenomenon. It is then not absolutely necessary to decipher works of new music entirely and consistently but simply to be aware of them.

"Someone said: 'Why bother with Homer? You don't understand him.' I reply: I don't understand the sun and moon and stars. They go over my head and I recognise myself in them while I look and contemplate their regular movements and think about what could become of me." (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

The experience of complexity and the impossibility of disentwining simultaneous disparate events and paradoxon is characteristic for modern life just as is the human attempt to find meaning in and the rules behind every phenomena. The encounter with hermetic works of art resistant to easy consumption is not only an intellectual challenge.

ascolta will try to mediate in this field. We will not pretend that the understanding of great works of contemporary art is child's play. We have ourselves been dealing with these challenging questions for years. But this can be exactly the way in which a personal approach to so many puzzling phenomena and artistic statements could be found.


The Dialogue Experiment

We look at group compositions of all kinds before the backdrop of a large project which ascolta created with a group of composers centred on Chaya Czernown (premiered in Donaueschingen 2008). How a work of art can be created by more than one person together, which communication and understanding has to be reflected upon to do so, which rules are necessary, is there a common basic vocabulary, how can individual and social conciousness develop while ruled by a strong external principle.

The project can be worked with school children or with adults.

Interdisciplinary work

The coincidence of work in various artistic fields often spectacularly lacks conception and is sometimes deliberately willful. ascolta shows with Jennifer Walshe how sensitively different genres — in this case comics and new music — can interact. Walshe uses a cunning system of signs and instructions to translate aspects of the picture into sound using the musicians and their spontaneity as a creative synthesiser.

Suitable for school children or for adults.

Building percussion instruments

Sometimes one finds a good sound, mostly one has to make it. We know about the great violin makers of the past but how does one create the new sounds of today's music? ascolta's two percussionists introduce in practice the handicraft of producing sounds.

The project can be worked with school children or with adults.

Fluxus, all the world's a stage

Classical concert and opera have counted for centuries on a relatively static stage situation. This could be seen as a basic problem of musical life and as a prime reason for the necessity of mediation. Fluxus artists have looked at this situation, crossed all boundaries and broken all tabus. To occupy oneself with this already historical art is to open up thoughts about the concepts and presentation of art, about conventions and behaviour in society.

Suitable for older school children or for adults.

High culture

The nuts and bolts of mediation can be found in the least spectacular project. Complex and impenetrable music is carefully pared away into layers of meaning, new listening encouraged and ways of approach laid down. Composers explain fascinating and astonishing things from their world of ideas. Performers tell of their passion for this art. Expect revelatory discussion about what makes music tick.