Seminar May 2023 - Athens

Onassis Stegi organized a music workshop with participants from Greece and abroad and invited musicians, composers, directors, dramaturgs, and educators to develop their skills and knowledge in a way that will contribute to their ability to create innovative music and music-theater performances for children. The two-day event included talks, discussions, and participatory workshops.

The main objectives of the Big Bang Seminar were to improve the quality of the non-commercial music landscape for children in Europe, to strengthen audience development strategies for children’s participation in music, and to inspire artists with skills and expertise that contribute to enhancing the music landscape for children.

Session 1: Contemporary music environments for young audiences

Kaja Farszky and Frédéric Verrières gave a talk about this year’s Nomad workshop created for the Big Bang Festival. The workshop was designed as a journey of unexpected sounds that encompassed rhythm, curiosity, melodies, and laughter. The aim was to engage with sound using the body, the voice, microphones, and electronic devices to make music together. As artists who create work for young and adult audiences, Farszky and Verrières use their experience from both worlds to interact with others. As opposed to underestimating children, they see them as the most difficult and direct audience, preparing environments for music making, especially for children with no musical background, and taking the risk of presenting non-obvious contemporary music choices to them.

Session 2: multimedia and multidisciplinarity in musical theater and performing arts

Letizia Renzini’s talk build on the concept of multimedia and multidisciplinarity in musical theater and performing arts, seeking to survey the connections and hybridizations of live performance with contemporary art forms (performance, installation, technology).

Through various examples, the participants discussed the formal concepts of composition, remix, immersiveness, synesthesia, and sampling, with a look at the practices of collective creation.

Another focus was on revisiting classical repertoires and reinterpreting music material, both for young and adult audiences, and on exploring any differences in form and content.

Session 3: Sonic Dialogues

The presentation/workshop “Sonic Dialogues” by Thalia Ioannidou and Persefoni Miliou concerned the creation of music performances for children, using everyday objects as sound sources and music instruments – something that we believe contributes significantly to children’s creativity and imagination and is also a means of communication with them. More specifically, they focused on the expressiveness of sounds and the possibility of using them independently as an abstract language that finds its place in children’s worlds and helps us to communicate with them in alternative ways.

Session 4: Music and narration for young audiences

Starting from the work “Garden or the Invisible Rope” that he created for the Big Bang Festival, composer Kornilios Selamsis presented the process of the piece’s construction and the context in which he worked, ending with the reception of the piece by the juvenile and adult audience. Using examples within the work, either recorded or written, he attempted to open up the discussion around the function of a distinctive construction for an unsuspecting audience, around style, the function of time, stimuli, and aesthetics.

Session 5: Non-verbal sensory interaction between generations in an immersive artistic context

“Babelut Parcours” by Hans Van Regenmortel creates a sensory, artistic, and participatory musical environment for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and their (grand)parents. Besides an immersive artistic production around a central theme and aimed at this specifically mixed audience, the project acts as a laboratory to explore the possibilities of non-verbal, sensory interaction between generations. Hence its relevance to education. 

Session 6: What if words are not enough

Evi Nakou conducted a workshop on designing hybrid participatory performances with teenagers. “What if words are not enough?” was a meeting in the form of a discussion and workshop, for the design of hybrid participatory performances with teenagers. Using cross-media poetry as a tool to create an accessible and empowering framework of self-narration for adolescents, musicians-educators will experiment with methodologies of interdisciplinary artistic expression, dramaturgy, and interpretation.

In this meeting, the participants experimented with open source and free audio, image, and animation editing software, with AI-based speech and image generation tools, and with the functions of social media applications, to devise processes of individual and collective narratives with adolescents.