Shifting Boundaries: Undistricting the musical field

11 November 2022 | 15:30 - 16:30Kleine Zaal

Situating Contemporary Music Practices

Panel text in Dutch

Contemporary music practice is in a state of flux and is increasingly becoming a hybrid praxis in which music becomes connected to other domains. Not only do musicians, composers and sound artists work beyond the boundaries of their own discipline, their work and research also explicitly relate to social themes such as care, the ecological crisis, inclusivity, or the functioning of modern technology and media. Moreover, contemporary makers are not only active in the concert or music theatre hall, but also enter the public space with performances: from music-borne initiatives in care and educational institutions, to site-specific installations and community-art projects. Artistic research is increasingly the rationale of these hybrid making practices.

The examples mentioned above show a common dynamic in which the boundaries between music, other art disciplines and societal matters become fluid / permeable. Instead of focusing activities exclusively on the musical domain, today’s creators increasingly connect with other locales. This is a fascinating development, which at the same time raises questions: what are the implications of this repositioning of contemporary musical practice? Where does the 21st-century musician find himself in this undistricting playing field? How is contemporary music practice connected to its social environment? Where is music practice on the spectrum between artistic autonomy and instrumentalisation? How does music interact with and within other practices? And what consequences does all this have for concert and festival practice?

During Shifting Boundaries – Situating Contemporary Music Practices, seven Dutch music-related professorships reflect on these questions with various guests. The programme on 11 November comprises four thematic blocks.

Professorships: Lectureship in Music (Conservatorium van Amsterdam), Music, Education & Society (Royal Conservatoire)
Creation processes in contemporary composed music seem to become more fluid. The roles and responsibilities of composer and performer are no longer fixed in advance, and audience input is also being (re)experimented with today. Composers involve performers in the composition process, or act as performers themselves; performers increasingly profile themselves as creators. The idea that music originates in the composer’s imagination is giving way to a more nuanced picture in which interactions with people, instruments, spaces, and the availability of time and resources also come to define the creation process. Using examples from their practice, we engage with four composers and music makers about the meaning of these changes and ask questions about where the musical creation process is today.


Maya Verlaak. Maya Verlaak is a Belgian composer (Ghent, 1990) who is active as a performer, curator and teacher. She describes her compositional process as a scrutinising compositional position. She develops different compositional techniques for each creative endeavour, never taking anything for granted. This way of working opens up her compositional practice towards new methods, creative solutions and playfulness. Sharing her creative process is important to her so she develops new notation systems to communicate her concepts. Her compositions are written in such a way that the performers have insight into the compositional process. The works are intended to create space for critical thought; space for the individual audience members and performers to scrutinise the work.

Thanasis Deligiannis. Thanasis Deligiannis is a Greek-Dutch composer and theatre maker based in Amsterdam. He is artist-in-residence at the Onassis Air in Athens for the season 2022-2023, and has been artist-in-residence at Gaudeamus for the years 2017-2019 under the programme Nieuwe Makers by the Performing Arts Fund NL. In 2018 he was assistant to Heiner Goebbels at the Manchester International Festival, while in 2017-2018 he worked at the Tanztheater Wuppertal – Pina Bausch Company as a member of Dimitris Papaioannou’s creative team. In the years 2015-2017 he was artistic coordinator of the music theatre research platform REFUSE, hosted by the National Greek Opera and Gaudeamus. Since 2018 Thanasis teaches at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. He has worked as assistant artistic director for the Nieuw Ensemble from 2011 till 2014 and artistic coordinator of the Atlas Lab for intercultural music from 2011 till 2016. In 2013 he co-founded the Amsterdam-based company I/O together with a team of artists of various backgrounds, focused on the creation of cross-over performances.

Heloisa Amaral. Heloisa Amaral is a pianist, artist-researcher and curator from São Paulo, currently based in Brussels. Musical partnerships include Duo Hellqvist/Amaral and Ensemble neoN as well as collaborations with composers such as Joanna Bailie Simon Steen-Andersen, Phil Niblock, Helmut Lachenmann, Natasha Barrett, Jan St. Werner, Marina Rosenfeld and Catherine Lamb. Former curator at Ny Musikk and programmer of Ultima Academy at the Oslo Ultima Festival until 2015, Heloisa currently lectures in artistic research and curatorial practices in music at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and pursues an artistic-research PhD at the University of Leiden (NL).

Aart Strootman. Pioneering guitarist and composer Aart Strootman (1987) throws a solid knock on the door of the music business of our times. His intellect and frank, fresh view on musical genres and styles justify a most prominent position in the music scene. He studied classical guitar and composition at Conservatory Fontys & Zuyd and at the University of Utrecht he obtained a MA in Musicology. Currently he is a PhD candidate at the university of Leiden via the DocArtes program. Since 2009 Aart Strootman teaches music history, (advanced) ear training, analysis, philosophy and performance studies at the Fontys School of Arts in Tilburg. He is artistic leader of contemporary music ensemble F.C. Jongbloed. In 2012 he found his band TEMKO. As a core member/guitarist of ensemble s t a r g a z e he worked with Laura Mvula, John Cale,Terry Riley, Bill Frisell, Philippe Jaroussky, Shara Worden, Nils Frahm and many others.

Michiel Schuijer. Michiel Schuijer is head of Research at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and study leader of the department of Composition and Music Theory. Schuijer focuses his research on the juncture of music theory and historical musicology. His book Analyzing Atonal Music: Pitch-Class Set Theory and Its Contexts (University of Rochester Press, 2008) was awarded the Emerging Scholar Award of the American Society for Music Theory in 2010. A leadership fellow on behalf of the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research, he initiated the Academies for Musicology and Musicianship in Amsterdam (AMMA) and Utrecht (AMMU) – two study programs offered jointly by a conservatory and a university.

Paul Craenen. Paul Craenen is a researcher, composer and a frequently demanded expert at the intersection of artistic practice, education and research. He studied piano and chamber music at the Lemmens Institute, Leuven and received a PhD from Leiden University (2011) for artistic research on the status of the performing body in contemporary composed music. He has been director of Musica, a Flemish organisation for art education and participation, from 2012 to 2018. In 2018 he was appointed Research Professor and head of the lectorate Music, Education and Society at the Royal Conservatory The Hague. He is also a guest lecturer at Leiden University.

Shifting Boundaries – Situating Contemporary Music Practices is an initiative of November Music in collaboration with Buma Cultuur (New Music Conference). Over a three-year period (2022-24), seven music-related professorships will present their research results concerning the theme of rapidly shifting boundaries in contemporary music practice. Participating in Shifting Boundaries – Situating Contemporary Music Practices are:

A professorship conducts practice-based research on an academic basis to improve the quality of education.


De hedendaagse-muziekpraktijk is volop in beweging en wordt steeds meer een hybride praxis waarin muziek verbonden raakt met andere domeinen. Niet alleen werken musici, componisten en geluidskunstenaars over de grenzen van de eigen discipline heen, ook verhouden zij zich in hun werk en onderzoek nadrukkelijk tot maatschappelijke thema’s als zorg, de ecologische crisis, inclusiviteit, of de werking van moderne technologie en media. De hedendaagse maker is bovendien niet alleen actief in de concert- of muziektheaterzaal, maar begeeft zich ook met performances in de publieke ruimte: van muziek-gedragen initiatieven in zorg- en onderwijsinstellingen, tot site-specifieke installaties en community-art projecten. Artistiek onderzoek is steeds vaker de rationale van deze hybride maakpraktijken.

Bovenstaande voorbeelden vertonen een gemeenschappelijke dynamiek van ontgrenzing. In plaats van activiteiten uitsluitend te richten op het muzikale domein, verbindt de huidige maker zich in toenemende mate met andere lokaliteiten. Dit is een fascinerende ontwikkeling, die tegelijkertijd vragen oproept: wat zijn de implicaties van deze herpositionering van de hedendaagse muziekpraktijk? Waar bevindt de 21e-eeuwse musicus zich in dit ontgrenzende speelveld? Hoe is de hedendaagse muziekpraktijk verbonden met haar maatschappelijke omgeving? Waar bevindt de muziekpraktijk zich in het spectrum tussen artistieke autonomie en instrumentalisering? Hoe werkt muziek samen met en in andere praktijken? En welke consequenties heeft dit voor de concert- en festivalpraktijk? Tijdens Shifting Boundaries – Situating Contemporary Music Practices reflecteren zeven Nederlandse muzieklectoraten met diverse gasten op deze vragen. Het programma op 11 november omvat vier thematische blokken.

Lectoraten: Lectoraat Muziek (Conservatorium van Amsterdam), Music, Education & Society (Koninklijk Conservatorium)
Creatieprocessen in de hedendaagse gecomponeerde muziek lijken meer fluïde te worden. De rol en verantwoordelijkheid van componist en uitvoerder liggen niet meer bij voorbaat vast, en ook met de inbreng van het publiek wordt vandaag (opnieuw) geëxperimenteerd. Componisten betrekken uitvoerders in het compositieproces, of treden zelf op als uitvoerder, uitvoerders profileren zich steeds meer als makers. De idee dat muziek ontstaat in de verbeelding van de componist maakt plaats voor een genuanceerder beeld waarbij ook de interacties met mensen, instrumenten, ruimtes, en de beschikbaarheid van tijd en middelen het creatieproces gaan bepalen. Aan de hand van voorbeelden uit hun praktijk, gaan we in gesprek met vier componisten en muziekmakers over de betekenis van deze veranderingen en stellen we de vraag waar het muzikale creatieproces zich vandaag bevindt.