Abstracts (Invited Speaker Presentations)

Building audiences for contemporary music
Stephanie Pitts (University of Sheffield)

This short presentation will report on some of the findings from the recent Understanding Audiences for the Contemporary Arts (UACA) AHRC research project, focusing particularly on a collaboration with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group which addressed strategies for building audience loyalty for concerts of newly commissioned music. Drawing on interview data with 187 participants across the three-year project, my talk will explore the attitudes of open-mindedness and ethical arts consumption that draw people to the contemporary arts. Further findings from the UACA project are available in a freely downloadable handbook available here.

Measuring the audience experience – how can we capture audience experience with innovative research methods?
Hauke Egermann (University of York)

The talk will briefly present some case studies from my research group that employ a multitude of different methodologies, including the measurement of retrospective and continuous subjective experiences, physiological activations, and expressive behaviour (e.g. facial expressions). Studies include concert experiments in which we analysed relationships between aesthetic judgements and emotional responses to music, in-group audience experiences, and the effects of concert formats. I will discuss possibilities and limitations of the corresponding methods, theoretical implications and research questions that can be studied with them.

How might the performer perspective enhance our understanding of the value of the audience at live events?
Karen Burland (University of Leeds)

Recent research has demonstrated the extent to which audiences can be seen to be active participants in live performances (Burland & Pitts, 2005), identifying a range of strategies for enhancing and encouraging audience engagement (O’Neill & Sloboda, 2017). At the same time, there is a wealth of literature which highlights the ways in which performers aim, and plan, to communicate with their audiences, primarily through the interpretative, expressive and creative aspects of their craft (Payne, 2016). This short presentation considers what we know about the role and experiences of audiences at live music events and asks how the performer’s perspective might enhance our understanding. 

Live Music Performance: Art v. Entertainment
Andy Hamilton (Durham University)

Art and entertainment are not polar opposites, as modernist theory assumes, but complementary and inter-penetrating; the category of artist-entertainer is an important one. Art and entertainment form a loosely connected conceptual system – the modern system of the arts, crafts, entertainment and sport. Entertainment existed before the modern era, but not as an overarching concept. I argue that entertainment aims to give pleasure or delight to an audience by amusing, exciting or otherwise diverting them, in a way that calls on them to make little or no concentrated effort. Art, in contrast, is a practice involving skill, with a conscious aesthetic end, that richly rewards aesthetic attention. Entertainment is consistently audience-centred in a way that art is not. I apply these conclusions to the case of live music performance.

Biographies (Artists)

Giulia Vismara is a researcher and an electroacoustic composer. She is mostly concerned with the organic nature of sound and the creation of textures in which concrete and synthetic elements combine together. Space is the key of her research, the matrix that moulds the music and the sounds she composes. For her, listening is in itself a part of the experience of space. Through her research she is investigating what “space” means as a concept in different contexts such as architecture, technology and composition, and how we can experience it via sound. For this reason, she is using different methods and approaches to spatialisation and 3d audio diffusion.

Paolo Cognetti is an Italian composer and a pianist. He holds degrees in piano and composition from the Conservatorio di Musica “Luigi Cherubini” and he is a graduate from Berklee’s inaugural master program in scoring for film, television and video games at its international campus in Valencia. Winner of both Italian and international awards he writes music for visual media and theatre pieces, and performs as solo piano artist.