During 2019 The Listening Project runs through the EUYO's programme as a major theme.
Of the many areas of expertise that are vital for orchestral musicians, listening is surely one of (perhaps the) most crucial. But in today’s European society, with our increasingly closed off techno-worlds, polarised politics and individualistically driven patterns of consumption, it is so often in sadly short supply. And It is worth remembering that the European Union was formed with the specific aim of us working with - and therefore listening to - others. So in 2019, a theme runs through the EUYO’s year in which we look at how musicians – and audiences – listen.
Most of us arguably take listening for granted, yet it is undoubtedly a complex activity. We listen for enjoyment, as well as to understand and to learn. And our ability to listen - in the most general sense - is often all that separates us from anarchy, whether that be the anarchy of a poorly performing orchestra or of a factionally divided society. So successful orchestras, like healthy societies, need to develop and care for their listening ability. We get emotions through listening which we may feel unique. Yet listening can also be a profoundly communal activity. Players sometimes report audience members telling them of something exceptional going on while listening, as if in the most successful of performances the audience is transformed into a massive, single listener, an entity united from all the individuals present in the performance venue.
The Listening Project will explore such experiences and much more, with contributions from world renowned artists, and explorations of a variety of techniques to help players and audiences listen. In the Spring residency in Ferrara we begin by looking at how orchestras listen, and in the summer we move on to audiences, with a European Music Campus musiclab at Grafenegg devoted to a comparison of listening and watching. In the process we hope to help hone the listening skills of Europe’s young musicians, whilst also shedding light on how in a challenging moment for Europe we can all improve by developing and expanding our listening. Welcome to The Listening Project.
The Listening Project was launched during our spring residency at our home in Ferrara. As the year progresses we will be populating a Listening Project archive with contributions from major artists, teachers and players. Many of them will be responding to the following questions:
“How would you advise young talented orchestral musicians to go about developing their listening abilities in an orchestral context? And what have you learnt about listening in your years working with some of the world’s finest orchestras?”
If you want to contribute to the Listening Archive, you may want to tell us HOW DO YOU LISTEN? by filling out our survey. Or, you can simply make your own video with advice on how young talented orchestral musicians should go about developing their listening abilities in an orchestral context.
To send a smartphone, tablet or other platform video for placing in the Listening Archive, send your video to email@example.com in one of the following file formats: .avi .mp4 .mov by using WeTransfer or similar app. Videos can be as short as you like (even down to a matter of seconds) but should be a maximum of 5 minutes.