Participatory performances are fashionable at the moment, even in the realm of classical music. But what happens to the audience members once they become participants? How does this change their experience of the music and the concert?
This practice-oriented research is a special case of audience research, as certain rules – for example, in a classical concert that the audience is quiet, sits and gives no feedback – are suspended.
Our first project was the investigation of the CONNECT-concerts, which took place in autumn 2016 in three different European cities. Both commissioned works operate with a certain amount of audience participation, on different levels. Through the collection of ethnographic data (via observation and interviews) and a questionnaire survey in all three European venues, the study investigated several questions, including
• What is the essence of participation for the audience members?
• What is the impact of participation on the experience of the audience members?
• What can audience participation achieve (and what can it not achieve)?
CONNECT 2018 has been partially investigated, but for this practice-oriented research we continue to collaborate with the participating ensembles in order to prepare the next project in the CONNECT cycle: CONNECT 2020. A first publication in cooperation with Professor John Sloboda (Guildhall School of Music) is currently undergoing the review process.
Toelle, J. & Sloboda, J. (2019, under revision). The Audience as Artist? The Audience's Experience of Participatory Music. Musica Scientiae.