From 1-3 November I attended the conference The Protean Musician: the musician in future society in Oslo, a joint initiative of the four research centres of the Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH):

  • The Arne Nordheim Centre for Artistic Research in Music (NordART)
  • The Centre for Research in Music and Health (CREMAH)
  • The Centre for Educational Research in Music (CERM)
  • The Centre of Excellence in Music Performance Education (CEMPE)

Were the ICON seminar in October aimed at the questions how we as artists and educators are relating in and to society, did the ”protean conference” focus on the institutions, education and students, the upcoming music professionals in the society of the future. This provided me with a new perspective for my own work on the subject of artists in the society of the 21st Century. Tradition and hierarchy were some of the most intensely discussed aspects of contemporary teaching. For this post, I chose just to write about four of the many presentations: the opening by Darla Crispin, the two keynote lectures of Geir Johanssen and Dawn Bennett, and a brief closure about my own presentation. Besides these examples, there were numerous other inspiring contributions from a large variety of backgrounds, including heartwarming projects such as Cheryl Dileo’s work with musicians and music therapists, working together to enhance quality of life in homeless persons in Philadelphia.

Oslo Harbour

Opening by Darla Crispin

In the opening session, Darla Crispin, Head of the Arne Nordheim Centre for Artistic Research in Music, gave a warm welcome to the community of practitioners, students, educators, music therapists, artistic researchers, musicologists and leaders, starting off three days of intensive exchange and discussion. It became immediately clear that participants from a great diversity of disciplines were brought together in this conference through the common theme of the musician in future society, and that this subject is of enormous importance in all of these disciplines.

Darla Crispin.

Crispin introduced the conference theme via the route of Greek mythology and the sea-god Proteus. He could foretell the future, but would change his shape to avoid having to. This attribute of being a shape-changer led to key features of the protean, such as being versatile, flexible and adaptable to change. What Darla offered as being particularly useful for us as musicians and educators in this moment of history, is that the protean also means thinking ahead of the changes, and that we are not here to stand aside: ”We are willing to risk, to participate.” She closed her introductory speech by referring back to its beginning and the interdisciplinary community of the conference: We are aiming “to be better through a shared understanding – the world needs it.”

Geir Johanssen on the conservatoire and the society

In the first keynote, professor of music education Geir Johanssen mapped the terrain of the conference theme by elaborating on the conservatoire and the society. In his keynote speech, Johannsen made four main arguments. He suggested that

  1. conservatoires contribute in shaping society,
  2. solely focusing on “delivery” what is “ordered” limits our self-understanding,
  3. conservatoires should separate between their social intentions and functions,
  4. conservatoires should separate between their social assignment, contributions and responsibility.

Especially the notion of “‘delivering’ what is ‘ordered'” was striking, as it is in a constant tension with what the richness of our self-understanding might be. Johanssen suggests that “a conservatoire is not about results in the next quarter; it is not even about who a student has become by graduation. It is about learning that molds a lifetime, learning that transmits the heritage of millennia, learning that shapes the future.”

Geir Johanssen.

Instead of focussing on the question what the ”market” asks, conservatoires should rather have “a moral obligation to critically inspect and constructively contribute to changing society, even if it may be at odds with prevailing, political priorities.” A striking thought here was the turning around of concepts about who is the ”customer” of us as institutes: Rather than providing the students with ”what they need” during their studies, we might also consider asking if we as institutes (want to) offer society students who are agents of change. Johanssen mentioned, very powerfully, the values of depth of slow processes, and the values of the non-measurable; thus questioning parts of our implicitly-agreed-upon ideal of efficiency.

Rather than providing the students with ”what they need” during their studies, we might also consider asking if we as institutes offer society students who are agents of change.

Another term that Johanssen discussed was employability as one of the key objectives within education nowadays. He enriched this fairly straightforward concept with the idea that employability suggests to be employed not only by an employer, but also by a society. This carried the discussion about employability to an entirely different level and made it useful especially in the context of the musician in society.

Johanssen closed his keynote with a few remarks on “hidden curricula” in conservatoires. With this, he referred to, a.o., the question if the master-apprenticeship model is actually the only valid model for teaching and learning an instrument, a crucial question within our education. And: “To what degree are our notions of the labour market different to how it actually is ‘out there’?

A few more questions stayed with me while thinking and reflecting on this inspiring keynote speech: How do we bring up our students through hidden curricula, concerning world view, vision on (contributing to) society and hierarchies? By teaching according to the master-apprenticeship model, a teacher embodies and enacts a particular world view, just as another teacher does by joining a student group in an improvisation lesson as an equally contributing musical voice. How does our very own teaching not only facilitate learning about music, but also reflect a world view and a view on our society?

Dawn Bennett about the Protean Musician

The Australian professor of Higher Education Dawn Bennett took a closer look at the concept of the protean musician itself, and the consequences of this for us as educators and institutions. She called for institutions to engage in collaboration much more, as they often share not exactly the same, but nevertheless similar issues.

Dawn Bennett.

Bennett argued for an education of “whole musicians” rather than educating violinists, conductors and composers. This led to a term that remained to be discussed during the conference: The portfolio musician. Portfolio is a term coming from the business world, but has been used within arts contexts since recently. The term describes practitioners who have already established a career – mostly according to traditional role models and pathways, think about classical soloists or concert masters — and built capital around them, and then choose to do something different: To build a portfolio of the work and professional identity, which is balanced around their own wishes and needs. It is a voluntary move, a reaction, something which one decides to go for. According to Bennett this is something musicians actually rarely do. Most of musicians’ activities are reactions, rather than being proactive. Bennett characterizes the type of musicians that students usually bring with them as: “The mythical musician” – a type that is usually far away from being protean.

That brought the discussion to an important point concerning education: Rather than being promoted as innovative and belonging to the 21st Century developments of the professional life as musicians, it is important to communicate to students that being protean in itself is not a new thing at all! As early as in the 14th Century, musicians were working in very diverse contexts, such as playing on the street, at court, at weddings and parties – just as later during the 18th Century, and not particularly different from musicians today. Being protean is about going out into the world — just as Brahms, Händel and Mozart did. Not to forget ”the protean virtuosi” such as Liszt, for example: they ran ”amazing businesses”! These musicians knew how to build new markets, first and foremost by traveling.

It is an essential task for us as educators to communicate to our students that the protean is what musicians – and artists in general – have always been doing, and that this all seems new, but in the practice of musicians and artists, this is not new to us at all. This lead Bennett to ask the question:

How do we portray ”succes” in music?

The term Dawn Bennett offered, and which returned on a number of occasions during the conference (including Geir Johanssen’s contribution mentioned above), was Employability, or rather EmployABILITY: ”The ability to find, create and sustain meaningful work across the career lifespan.”

And this sparked an inspiring thought about making and sustaining meaningful work. In conservatoires, still many young classical students enter with the aim of becoming soloists or concert masters in orchestras, only to be disillusioned during the time of and after their studies. However, when the amount of classical soloists is one in a million, it is not the point that as a student one can hardly be that one who makes it as a soloist. The question is, what are the other 999.999 doing? This is what our students (and their main subject teachers) need to learn, understand and embody: Most of them are doing great work!

Concluding, Bennett made a few suggestions and final thoughts about how to work with these ideas in our practice of educating professional musicians. Despite that haven’t covered all of these in my text, they are are all powerful and useful to develop further in the future:

  • Help students learn how to think and reflect
  • Teach the practice of the musician
  • Educate the whole person / the whole musician
  • Create strong networks
  • Ban the words job, employment and employer
  • Redefine employability development as lifelong
  • Engage alumni
  • Place ’Create your Future’ at the centre of the curriculum
  • Make it compulsory

One size fits all?

In my own lecture I presented a concept on which I am working for some time now: Artistic research as integrative practice. The main argument for the lecture in Oslo is that, despite research being a fairly commonplace part of conservatoire education nowadays, still it is often undertaken as separate from the students’ core activities of practicing, performing and composing. Nevertheless, I am convinced that a heightened amount of integration of research in the artistic study would likely equip students much better for their professional future, with its manifold variations of practice that asks for a constant process of critical reflection and experiment. Artistic research as integrative practice is a concept that offers a close connection between research and musicianship.

The essential shift made by viewing artistic research as integrated practice is that the otherwise often scattered activities of hybrid contemporary musicians – performing, composing, teaching, writing, making websites, etc. – become conceptualized as elements of one integrated professional identity as artistic researcher. Research itself might be seen as a ”hub” of all these diverse activities, which is functioning through an investigative attitude and habit. As such, this not particularly new, but it reflects and frames advanced practice of researchers already working in such ways, and positions research as a combining framework rather than something external.

ARIP Hub

Concerning education, I linked what I understand as elements of an ”investigative attitude and habit” to the 21st Century Skills. Without proclaiming that this list is exhaustive or even already underpinned by sufficient research, it is strikingly obvious how the different items on the list differ from traditional elements of conservatoire education and the traditional master-apprenticeship model, specifically in classical departments. I will continue to develop and specify this in the coming months.

21st C Skills.jpg

”I will carry you over hard times”, the impressive and very physical performance with percussion player Maarten Zaagman, continues to be performed and has been very well received by enthusiastic audiences in Utrecht, Leiden and Den Bosch, all in The Netherlands. Maarten Zaagman performed at the Betweter festival in Utrecht, and most recently at the renowned November Music, festival for contemporary music in Den Bosch.

A very special occasion was the performance at the World Cultural Council on November 8th at Leiden University. ”Hard Times” had been chosen to honour the winner of the Leonardo da Vinci Award of Arts, percussionist and ethnomusicologist professor Russell Hartenberger. And it was an honour for us indeed!

The entire award ceremony can be watched here.

The wonderful main courtyard of Dartington Hall, where the seminar tool place.
The wonderful main courtyard of Dartington Hall, where the seminar took place.

From 8-11 October the 16th seminar of the Innovative Conservatoire (ICON) took place in Dartington, UK. The theme and title of this seminar was Artists in Society. ‘listening’ as a core artistic and professional skill, and its role in evolving purpose and practice. For me personally, this is the start of an exciting series of seminars and conferences, in which I develop both the concept of Artistic Research as Integrative Practice, as well as work on the subject of artists in the society of the 21st Century. This theme has caught my interest since some time, lead by questions that are directed towards the core of higher professional arts education, and are concerned with the role of our institutions, and even more the role of the students as future artists and creative professionals in the society of the 21st Century. From this perspective, the 16th ICON seminar kicks off a series which continues with the December conference The Protean Musician: the musician in future society (abstract) in the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, and the Reflective Conservatoire at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London in February 2018.

Arriving at Dartington Hall.
Arriving at Dartington Hall.

The seminar’s booklet introduced the theme and its urgency to the participants:

There has never been a more important time for musicians to develop their sense of purpose and possibilities in society. Music and the arts have such potential to make a huge difference in the world. At the same time, as the music profession continues to change, life can feel unpredictable and confusing even as exciting opportunities open up. Developing a sense of purpose, artistic and professional identity, and being able to evolve these throughout a career, seems increasingly important for all musicians. In what ways can we prepare for and support this process?

As the title of the seminar suggests, the focus of the seminar was two-fold: exploring the theme of the musician in society, and different ways of addressing this theme and its interconnected questions, and within this theme, the specific perspective of listening, as being various processes and skills.

The ability to listen deeply is not only essential to us as performers, but also to finding new ways to connect as artists in society, and of course to teaching as we respond to our students as human beings. Listening, for example, is central to the practices of mentoring and coaching and to the Critical Response Process, with which we have worked in previous seminars. In all these contexts, listening may then also imply responding, a process of dialogue, exchange, give and take.

A number of questions were leading for the seminar, such as:

  • In what ways can we develop our listening skills, as musicians and as human beings? How may our sense of purpose (artistic, personal, professional), our knowledge and experience, and our value systems and life stories influence our listening and our response to what we hear?
  • How may our listening skills in one domain complement them in other domains, or even be translatable?
  • We bring our whole selves to our work as musicians – body, mind and spirit. How can we listen in each of these domains and how can we respond? How can we use our physical selves to listen to and through the body to enrich our playing, performance and ways in which we engage with an audience?
  • How can we develop listening skills that open up creativity, artistically, in learning and in developing our professional practice in the world?
  • How can we develop listening skills with students: in their individual practice; in their work with other musicians/peers/teachers; in going out into society?

Day One

Helena Gaunt introduces the seminar, its theme and approach throughout the coming days to the group of creative directors and participants.
What would you hear in this place?

Next to the introduction by creative director and founding member of ICON, Helena Gaunt, the first afternoon and evening were dedicated to the theme of listening and to a number of short exercises on listening. These included personal introductions of the individual participants to each other about where they come from and what brought them to the seminar.

The first exercises.

One of the session included a reflection on what the “artist in society” might mean to us and our work, written large notes on paper, put on the floor in various “constellations”. After hearing the story about such a constellation, the others in the group offered a short reflection on what they heard, in form of a musical-gestural-scenic improvisation. What I found striking, personally, was that the improvisation added an unexpected element to the story, which was playful and less serious than the story itself. This reminded me of “taking things lightly”, as an approach to having more distance towards a subject, which might provide me with the ability to make more informed and well-reflected choices. By means of this playfulness and lightness, the improvisation in fact achieved a discursive quality, which I had not realised ever before.

Day Two

On the second day a very special guest joined us: Liz Lerman. The American choreographer is, among other work, well-known for her choreographic pieces with elderly people, and for the famous feedback method Critical Response Process (CRP), which is practiced widely and for several years now within ICON and the associated institutions.

This day, Liz worked with us on themes that were interconnected with listening, yet focussed on the body and movement in space, listening through the body, awareness and concepts of translation.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Film maker and visual artist Niek Pronk, who joined us during the seminar, made a short film about the work Liz did with us:

Day Three

After the first day being dedicated to listening, and the second day as an “interlude” with body work, the third day was entirely focussed on the participants’ work related to the seminar theme of the musician in society. Everyone was invited to bring his or her own question, or issue, into the discussion and the sessions on this day. We spent the day working in small groups that stayed the same throughout the whole day.

In a practice session, working on the seminar theme.
In a practice session, working on the seminar theme.

Concerning the work forms, this day presented one of the most continuous and complex forms within ICON seminars to date. The day was structured into three main sessions. In each session, one or two participants offered their story or question, related to the seminar theme. Yet, through this work, all participants were invited – or challenged – to work on their own question through the stories of the others at the same time. Different roles were assigned: the presenter, a group of responders including the session facilitator, and one “artist in the corner” who sat outside of the group, invited only in the end to offer his “artistic comment” of the work the group had done.

The presenter offered his story and questions to the responders, and the group responded with reflections, feedback, questions and other type of responses, by means of different work forms.

The day, and with it the seminar, ended in a final session in which the group shared meaningful experiences and important moments of learning, together with a collective reflection on what everybody will take away to the home institutions, to have further impact on art and music education in innovative ways.

The final evening of the seminar - the PARTY.
The final evening of the seminar – the PARTY.

On August 31st, the core team of the Professorship Performative Processes presented a collaborative lecture at the 5th Colloqium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts (CARPA), at the University of the Arts Helsinki, entitled Perilous Experience – Extending Experience through Artistic Research.

True to its title, the conference included a large variety of papers, presentations and workshops that were exploring ”borders”: from the speculative via voice hearing to the paranormal. We were particularly impressed by two keynote speeches on the first two days: Etzel Cardeña presented From Monkey-mind to Embodied Performance Presence (see here for Cardeña’s abstract and bio and here for the registration of his keynote), and Lisa Blackman elaborated on Speculative Science, Threshold Experiences and Transubjectivities (see here for her abstract and bio and here for the registration of her presentation).

The beautiful entrance hall of the University of the Arts in Helsinki.
The beautiful entrance hall of the University of the Arts in Helsinki.

Readers who follow the work of the professorship, or this site, will know the project If You Are Not There Where Are You? (IYANTWAY) already: science and art were connected to make absence seizures (a light form of epilepsy) experienceable. As artists and researchers we worked with a group of children and youths from a performative and co-creative perspective, in which knowledge has not only been described, but generated through artistic utterance: artist and artwork are not only objects of research but its main actors. Artists worked alone and in pairs with the participants, in a creation process that transformed from collaboration into sheer co-creation.

From right to left: Marieke Nooren, Falk Hübner & the Unicorn.
From right to left: Marieke Nooren, Falk Hübner & the Unicorn.

Children who suffer from absence seizures have little ways of sharing their experiences. Language does not suffice to explain the often fearful multi-sensory hallucinations, and the moments of ‘not being there’. Neurologists can measure brain activity to help the diagnosis, but fail to grasp the actual experience of these children.

In the presentation we aimed to show how artistic research as methodology has helped us to re-create experience, to realize impact on reality, and to strengthen our conceptions of co-creative work forms. We addressed several questions this project has raised on ownership, co-creation and ethics, illustrating the perilousness of engaging with absence seizures.

Marieke Nooren introduces the IYANTWAY project.
Marieke Nooren introduces the IYANTWAY project.

We chose for a kaleidoscopic and polyphonic approach to the form of the presentation, which aimed to address not only the various aspects of the project itself, but also the different personalities, and ways of working within the team of artist-researchers.

After Marieke Nooren’s brief introduction and a film trailer, Nirav Christophe talked about co-creation and creation strategies from the perspective of the artists, after which Falk Hübner shed light on the aspects of ownership and creation on the side of the participants.

Henny Dörr elaborates on the work process from rehearsal space towards the final installation.

Henny Dörr and Joris Weijdom followed with a staged “Q&A”-like dialogue on their approaches to the creative work in their respective collaborations, in order to ”re-create the experience” of the participants. In particular they elaborated on the relation between the abstract and the concrete, which worked differently in both cases – Henny went through a process in which the material became more and more abstract, and Joris exactly the other way round, towards more concrete material.

Joris slide WP
Visualisation of the two “moves”: Henny went from concrete to abstract, whereas Joris started with abstract shapes and moved towards the concrete and physical.

In the third part, Marieke presented a number of quotes from participants and stakeholders of IYANTWAY to illustrate the impact of the project. The quotes were projected on the screen and the team was provoked to react on these quotes quickly and intuitively, recalling the mode of a quiz show.

We closed with the first step of Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process (CRP), a form that specifically aims to facilitate qualitative feedback.

The audience space in the CARPA theatre.
The audience space in the CARPA theatre.

The presentation was paralleled (or counterpointed) with the Helsinki Hindsights, a page containing statements or provocations that resulted from our work in IYANTWAY. These statements were provided to the audience by simply laying them on the chairs.

As the first post of this season, this is a brief newsletter about a new publication and three, partly collaborative, conference presentations in Helsinki, Oslo and London. There are also several other projects coming up, which will be covered more in depth in the following posts.

Maartje Nevejan, initiator of IYANTWAY
Maartje Nevejan, initiator of IYANTWAY

The new publication of the core team of the Professorship Performative Processes, When you are not there, where are you?, is in its final stages. This concludes a large project initiated by Dutch documentary maker Maartje Nevejan, which spans many activities during the last two years, including the practical work of the team of the professorship with a group of children suffering from absence epilepsy seizures, a collaborative performance lecture in Prague, the performance installation Down next to a whole range of other artistic work, and the lecture Transforming Absence. Art as Bridge from Multimodal Experience to Transdisciplinary Collaboration in Cape Town in December 2016. In the end of August, the core team of the professorship (Nirav Christophe, Henny Dörr, Joris Weijdom and Falk Hübner) will present another collaborative performance lecture called Transforming Absence. Re-creating Experience through Artistic Research at the Carpa conference in Helsinki.

Participants and artists of the IYANTWAY project
Participants and artists of the IYANTWAY project

In November I will give a lecture on artistic research as “integrated practice” at the conference ‘The Protean Musician’: the musician in future society. This is the first lecture in which I develop this concept of artistic research in relation to higher music education and the students’ future in society. A wide array of presenters will join the conference from many countries around the globe, and this promises to be a most interesting and impactful conference “examining the roles of musicians in our increasingly complex world.” (Darla Crispin) The conference is organized by The Arne Hordheim Centre for Artistic Research in Music (NordART), The Centre for Research in Music and Health (CREMAH), The Centre for Educational Research in Music (CERM) and The Centre of Excellence in Music Performance Education (CEMPE) (abstract).

Finally, in February I will join forces with Christina Guillaumier, pianist, Head of Undergraduate Studies at the Royal College of Music in London and a Creative Director of the Innovative Conservatoire (ICON). Together we will present The Musician in Society – From Craftsmanship to Creative Citizen at the Reflective Conservatoire Conference at Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. We will address conservatoire reality nowadays, in relation to the quickly changing development of our world and social surroundings, and use the work of the Innovative Conservatoire as a case study that might provide a toolkit for innovative practice both in student and teacher training.

Dr. Christina Guillaumier
Dr. Christina Guillaumier

Apart from these scholarly activities, two artistic projects are still in process and will be concluded this season: the music theatre silencio with trumpet player Sef Hermans, and a new participatory music theatre work with the Dutch vocal quartet Quatre Bouches. More on these projects in the upcoming posts!

Maarten Zaagman performs at Sweet St Andrews in Brighton (photo: Chloe Hashemi)
Maarten Zaagman performs at Sweet St Andrews in Brighton (photo: Chloe Hashemi)

Maarten Zaagman and I had just been back from Brighton, with five performances of I will carry you over hard times, when we received the news about the next performances: in November 2017 we will perform at the prestigious Dutch November Music festival, as part of the KunstMuziekRoute. We are very happy and excited about taking part in the wonderful festival in Den Bosch! Keep an eye on the site for dates and times, as these will be announced soon.

Back in Brighton, it was not only great to perform the work for several times in the beautiful little church of Sweet St Amdrews. Maarten and I also gave a workshop on our creative process; and it was particularly rewarding (and fun!) to perform on the sunny streets of Brighton.

During the workshop "Experiencing Hard Times".
During the workshop “Experiencing Hard Times”.
Performance on the streets in the centre of the city!
Performance on the streets in the centre of the city!

From 8-12 April 2017, the ICON Creative Directors team and participants worked under the guidance of professional coach Jane Cook on the theme ”coaching and mentoring”. Jane comes from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where she is Head of Leadership and Coaching.

The location of the seminar: The main building at Kallio-Kuninkala, about 40 minutes from Helsinki.
The location of the seminar: The main building at Kallio-Kuninkala, about 40 minutes from Helsinki.

The seminar was aimed at anyone in teaching, mentoring and management roles: working with students as a one to one teacher or mentor, or with students in groups, or having line management responsibility for colleagues in one’s home institution. The red thread of the seminar’s activities and session was to work on core mentoring-coaching skills, such as

  • listen for and illuminate meaning
  • ask questions that prompt new learning
  • how to motivate and encourage new and creative thinking

The international group of teachers started the first evening with a series of sessions that involve “sources of inspiration”. Everybody brought 2-3 objects, images or quotes that have a relation or connection to the seminar theme.

A collection of sources.
A collection of sources.

During the seminar days, participants worked on real issues with each other in the different roles of client, coach and observer. The core of the seminar programme was constant feedback practice from “real life”: “We will not role play. We ask you to work on real material with each other. You cannot learn how to be an excellent mentor-coach if you have never understood what it is to be a client.” (ICON programme booklet)

Picking images before a group session.
Picking images before a group session.

ICON is well-known for its variety in innovative work forms. The most common forms of this seminar were either sessions with the whole group, in which Jane Cook demonstrated specific approaches to coaching with one or two participants, or practice sessions in duos.

A welcome new form during the intense days was the late afternoon walk in pairs, in which the participants reflected on the day and the sessions. This was done in a mode of telling and concentrated listening and asking questions, so that essential coaching skills were still practiced, while enjoying the last hours of the light of day.

The lake close to Kallio-Kuninkala right before evening.
The lake close to Kallio-Kuninkala right before evening.

“Coaching and mentoring skills […] can enable us to take ownership of our development, generate new perspectives, and access our ‘best possible selves’ and those of the people we work with, be these students, colleagues or other professionals around us.” (ICON programme booklet)

Workshop leader Jane Cook gives an introduction to a group session.
Workshop leader Jane Cook gives an introduction to a group session.

In the last months a small team at HKU University of the Arts has been working on the development of a new research environment: Studio 118. The studio is a place for conducting, sharing and disseminating practice-based research at the HKU Utrechts Conservatoire.

Next to individual research projects, the space hosts events and workshops for students or teachers of the conservatoire, such as the series on Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process

In January, I worked with Sef Hermans on parts of our music theatre work silencio, which will be premiered next season and also includes sections of live video.

This focus on live video has been continued during the last weeks, when the second series of the dedicated Live Video Research has started. These sessions focus on the development of the first artistic work within the project: a performance installation for prepared double bass, objects, live electronics and live video.

I am conducting these session together with Juriaan Achthoven, a young and talented theatre and media scholar, interested in artistic research. The collaboration involves both practical as well as conceptual-theoretical work, leading to a lecture performance on the 2nd of June, 2017, in Studio 118 at the HKU Utrechts Conservatoire.

live video collage Kopie

After many acclaimed performances last year, the recent performance I will carry you over hard times with percussion player Maarten Zaagman has been invited to the Brighton Fringe Festival, as part of the “Dutch Season”. This will be the first series of performances in the UK, and we are much looking forward to this.

Maarten Zaagman performing "Hard Times" in Leiden in the public space, December 2016.
Maarten Zaagman performing “Hard Times” in Leiden in the public space, December 2016.

The performance will happen in the lovely location of St Andrews Church.

Next to the performances Maarten and I are also going to give a practical workshop, going into the experience of creating a musical choreography, in interaction and with the material of the participants.

From 16.-19. October the fourteenth seminar of the Innovative Conservatoire took place in Kallio-Kuninkala, Finland. Falk is member of the team of Creative Directors of ICON. The theme of this seminar was

Improvisation and Playfulness.

Relationship to identity, artistic development & professional practice.

 

The main building of the beautiful area of Kallio-Kuninkala
The main building of the beautiful area of Kallio-Kuninkala

The seminar was led by Bart van Rosmalen en Jo Hensel, and was designed to work with and on improvisation in all of its variaties. This means first of all different musical genres: jazz, free, classical, tonal, contemporary and experimental. From this point on, also interdisciplinary improvisation was included, as not only musicians, but also actors and dancers attended the seminar. Finally, the seminar explored broader ways of understanding improvisation in situation of one-to-one teaching, group lessons, professional collaboration and leadership.

The extended session
The extended session “The Art of Questioning / A Theatrical Dialogue”, led by Bart van Rosmalen.

During the seminar, the ICON-goers experienced the usual variety of different kinds of sessions: The whole group followed a physical movement session led by choreographer and dancer Kerry Nichols, while improvisation experts such as pianist Anto Pett, vocalist Anne-Liis Poll and pianist Aaron Shorr offered dedicated ensemble sessions in slightly smaller groups. This combination of forms was accompanied by several slots in which both participants as well as Creative Directors offered theme sessions for small groups, in which they worked on more individual and experimental themes, or on forms they use in their own work. Falk led two sessions here, one using a playful work form called Plaii, developed by Dutch art educator Annemarie Geerling, and Learning by Making, an already more tested-out form that explores the relationship between artistic practice and reflection, developed by Tet Koffeman, Bart van Rosmalen en Falk Hübner.

Participants during the
Participants during the “The Art of Questioning” session.

A special part of the seminar was devised by two time slots on the second and third day. The main house of Kallio-Kuninkala was transformed into a place of quietness and reflection, called the ”Reflective House”. Participants were invited, though not obliged, to come and reflect on the sessions, the collected experiences and viewpoints. It was possible to do this individually or to join in with dedicated reflective work forms, such as ”Improvised Writing” (Bart van Rosmalen), ”Silent Coaching” (Gerda van Zelm) or ”Reflecting through Making” (Jo Hensel).

Working quietly in and during the
Working quietly in and during the “Reflective House”.

As part of the preparations for the seminar, each participant was asked to bring some of their own books to the seminar that were related to the main theme. These books were collected to be part of a pop-up “library”, which was part of the Reflective House. Everybody could come here, look through the impressive yet contemplative variety of the books, read, and leave a trace – in form of a written note, a small drawing or any other kind of tangible reflection.

The collected books of the pop-up
The collected books of the pop-up “Library”.

The participants’ reactions on this seminar of the Innovative Conservatoire was overwhelmingly positive, with many participants voicing their enthusiasm in long feedback emails, asking for more continuous collaboration among the new-found colleagues and friends.