The Modern Music Days concert series of 20th-century and contemporary music motivates existing audiences and draws in new ones through adventurous programming, interdisciplinary action and outreach projects. This is organised by Teatru Manoel in collaboration with the Malta Association for Contemporary Music as part of the Valletta 2018 Cultural Programme in the run-up to the European Capital of Culture year
Some people feel that 20th-century classical music scares off its audience. Others may feel that if you do not know a lot about this music, you will not enjoy it. Modern Music Days (MMD) is flipping the cards by adopting efficient audience development strategies.
“Accessibility is at the heart of this project,” says artistic director Ruben Zahra,. “MMD introduces contemporary music to new audiences in unexpected settings.” That is precisely what the Bandli installation – which was part of the Malta International Arts Festival – achieved at St George’s Square, Valletta between July 8 and 18, 2016. Bandli takes music out of the concert hall to an outdoor interactive installation of eight musical swings. Each swing is equipped with a motion sensor so that music is triggered through the swinging action. Furthermore, different instruments are assigned to the eight swings so the whole structure functions like a music ensemble that is brought to life through the interaction of the public. If two people are swinging, it’s a duo, four swings make a quartet… all the way up to an eight-piece ensemble. Bandli engaged over 5,000 people of all ages during the 10 days of the festival.
Fostering the next generation of music lovers drives the work of the MMD educational programming as part of Teatru Manoel’s Toi Toi series. Professional musicians and artists conduct a series of entertaining workshops, guiding the students to explore various aspects of today’s eclectic musical world. The workshops include interactive sessions on prepared piano techniques, recycled percussion, electronic music and minimalism, leading to a collective performance.
MMD seeks to engage artists from a variety of practices towards interdisciplinary expression. In October 2014, MMD presented a concert by the British sound and video trio Powerplant. Led by percussionist Joby Burgess, Powerplant are known for their multi-media performances that operate at the meeting-point between new music and installation art. Last January, MMD also presented the performance Chancel/Spirall, which connected contemporary music with dance in collaboration with the Opera Ballet-Théâtre de Metz Métropole from France. Interdisciplinary expression is another effective strategy for audience development because the event reaches out to a larger crowd.
An important strand within the framework of MMD is to present major works and foster the collaboration between local and international musicians. This approach supports the professionalisation of 20th-century music performance and introduces the local audience to important repertoire that has never been performed in Malta. In October 2015, MMD presented a concert as an homage to composer Edgar Varèse as well as to his musical influence through the music of John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Frank Zappa. The main challenge of this concert was to co-ordinate the staging and performance of Ionisation by Varèse, scored for 13 percussionists.
Seven local musicians had the opportunity to attend a one-week masterclass and rehearsal schedule with Italian percussion ensemble Ars Ludi.
The musicians were able to perform this work but more importantly they mastered the necessary skills to tackle the repertoire. A similar project was presented in November 2014 with a programme of modern compositions by some of the most important 20th-century and contemporary composers. The music selected for this concert was very exciting, portraying an effervescent virtuoso performance from all the instruments in the ensemble. The programme included works by Pierre Boulez, Guillaume Connesson, Trevor Grahl, György Ligeti, Witold Lutosławski and Iannis Xenakis. Through this initiative, MMD created the opportunity for musicians from the Brno Contemporary Orchestra (Czech Republic) and local musicians to perform as one ensemble under the direction of conductor
MMD is committed to promoting the performance and understanding of 20th-century repertoire and contemporary music in Malta. Outreach projects, international collaborations, professionalisation, education programmes and interdisciplinary expression will be developed even further within the 2017 and 2018 MMD programme.
INTRODUCING CONTEMPORARY MUSIC TO NEW AUDIENCES
August 25th - 2016