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A JOYFUL

REVOLUTION

Creating adventurous

music projects

for young audiences


A Joyful Revolution takes us on an inspiring

journey through music creations for young

audiences. Focusing on nine projects

presented at the BIG BANG Festival -

a unique laboratory for experimentation with

music and sound - this publication offers

an in-depth and kaleidoscopic reflection

on innovation within the musical offering for

children. This collection of texts highlighting

original processes and daring artistic

proposals also includes essays by artists

and thinkers that together form a vibrant

anthology on childhood, anarchy and music.

A JOYFUL

REVOLUTION



A JOYFUL

REVOLUTION

Creating adventurous

music projects

for young audiences











12 A JOYFUL REVOLUTION

13

TABLE OF

CONTENTS

16

18

25

43

61

69

PrefAce

A JOYFUL REVOLUTION

introDUction

PIONEERING

by Wim Wabbes

DES MADELEINES

DANS LA GALAXIE

a cosmic voyage aboard the Spat’

by Laurence P. Lafaille

BEING JOHN CAGE

an interview with Letizia Renzini

by Tyyjing Liu

reflections

A CHILD’S GUIDE TO ANARCHY

by Brian Irvine

LIVING MILES DAVIS

when musical interaction and

participation are at the heart

of a young audience’s experience

by Marika Crête-Reizes

91

111

135

153

175

INSIDE FIVE LITTLE HOUSES

an immersive trail through

the project INsono by Sonoscopia

by Ana Luísa Veloso

reflections

IT ALL STARTED WITH A BANG!

MUSIC, CHILDREN AND OTHER

VIBRATIONS

an interview with Wouter Van Looy

by Mélanie Dumont

NEBULA: THE DREAM-MAKING

MACHINE

by Anne-Marie Ouellet

& Thomas Sinou

A DECADE AFTER DANCING VOICES

an interview with Meredith Monk

by Naomi Beeldens

reflections

THE STATE OF FLOW

an interview with

Professor Ferre Laevers

by Wouter Van Looy

187

199

217

236

JOURNEYS IN COMMUNAL

MUSIC-MAKING WITH PAUL

GRIFFITHS

by Purni Morell

PLAYING AROUND!

an interview with Bert Bernaerts

by Annemarie Peeters

THE NECESSITY

OF APPEARING

the atypical adventure

of Deep Fusion Butterfly

by Hélène Élise Blais

ePiloGUe

INTO THE FUTURE

by Madalena Wallenstein



14 A JOYFUL REVOLUTION

15

CONTRIBUTORS

Laurence P. Lafaille

is a stage director,

curator and

co-artistic director for

the multidisciplinary

company Les

Incomplètes, based in

Quebec, Canada.

Madalena Wallenstein

is the coordinator of

the Fábrica das Artes

at the Centro Cultural

de Bélem and the

programmer of BIG

BANG Festival in

Lisbon, Portugal.

Marika Crête-Reizes

is a trainer and

specialist in Aesthetic

Education and develops

and accompanies arts

education projects. She

is based in Montreal,

Canada.

Mélanie Dumont

is a dramaturge,

associate artistic director

of the National Arts

Centre (NAC) French

Theatre and programmer

of the BIG BANG

Festival in Ottawa,

Canada.

Hélène Élise Blais

is a music artist living in

Montreal, Canada, where

she teaches singing and

writing at The Muses,

a one-of-a-kind school

offering professional

artistic training to people

living with a disability.

Ana Luísa Veloso

is a researcher at

INET-md (Institute of

Ethnomusicology- Centre

of Studies in Music and

Dance) and is a member

of the cultural association

Sonoscopia. She is based

in Porto, Portugal.

Brian Irvine

is a composer and coartistic

director of the

creative production

company Dumbworld,

based in Belfast,

Northern-Ireland.

Emma Driesprong

based in Brussels,

Belgium, has a

background in art

history and works as the

international relations

and EU project manager

for Zonzo Compagnie

and the BIG BANG

festival network.

Naomi Beeldens

is a versatile performer

with a predilection

for music theatre,

contemporary music and

all things experimental.

She is part of the music

theatre collective Les

Âmes Perdues and

is based in Antwerp,

Belgium.

Anne-Marie Ouellet

is a researcher and

creator based in

Chelsea, Canada.

She specialises in

directing non-actors

in cutting-edge

contemporary creations.

Thomas Sinou

is a sound designer

and digital artist

who composes and

spatializes sound, based

in Chelsea, Canada.

Wouter Van Looy

is a stage director

of opera and music

theatre. He is resident

stage director at Music

Theatre Transparent,

general and artistic

director of the Antwerp

(Belgium) based Zonzo

Compagnie and founder

of the BIG BANG

Festival.

Annemarie Peeters

is a writer, dramatist

and music journalist

living in Louvain,

Belgium.

Tjyying Liu

is an independent

arts professional,

educator, performer

and writer and is based

in Rotterdam, The

Netherlands.

Wim Wabbes

is the artistic director

of Handelsbeurs

Concert Hall in Ghent,

Belgium.

Purni Morell

is a freelance theatre

director, writer and

translator, based in

Antwerp, Belgium.



16

PREFACE

A JOYFUL

REVOLUTION

A Joyful Revolution projects us

simultaneously into the buzz of the present

and the perspective of a near future.

Because although this publication aims

to bear witness to innovation within the

musical offering for young audiences, it

also sees itself as a call to continue and

spread the work that is already going on

and, assuredly, to continue opening up new

avenues of exploration.

Let’s begin by noting that this

publication is rooted in a unique laboratory

for experimentation with music and

sound, known as BIG BANG Festival. This

international festival of musical adventures

for young audiences has provided a context

for this in-depth, intentionally kaleidoscopic

reflection on current musical practices

aimed at children.

This is the setting in which the nine

projects that form the main thread of this

publication were conceived or presented.

Consequently, what emerges most clearly

from these pages, serving as a guide for

our reflections, is precisely the originality

and daring that characterises this range

of projects undertaken by unique artists.

Whether they flirt with contemporary sounds

or revisit tradition, whether they invent

new ways of listening or try out modes of

interaction, these processes are an inspiring

journey along uncommon pathways towards

creation for and with this audience of today,

here and now.

This collection of texts also includes a

number of essays by artists and thinkers, as

well as the voices of those who have helped

to organise the BIG BANG Festival in their

own cities, in Europe and elsewhere. It is a

vibrant anthology that stimulates reflection

on childhood, anarchy and music.

As a state of play and a projection into

the future, this publication also reads as a

story in pictures that takes a multicoloured

look at the rich world of music and sound art

as a sanctuary for imagination and creativity.

Emma Driesprong

Mélanie Dumont

Wouter Van Looy



18

INTRODUCTION

Wim Wabbes

19

The BIG BANG festival used to be

called ‘Oorsmeer’, which is Dutch for ear

wax. That actually summed it up well. It

sounds a bit dirty, like something contrary

to the mainstream, and at the same time it

is beneficial and important for the ears.

When Wouter Van Looy started brainstorming

about the festival with me, as the

music programmer at Vooruit in Ghent,

the starting point was that there was an

urgent need for new music for children,

in addition to the pure entertainment that

often treats them rather condescendingly.

We both had young children and were

active on the music scene. We saw a big

gap and a huge potential. It’s not about the

music. A lot of music that appeals to adults

can also fascinate children. It just needs

to be a bit more intimate, concerts should

be a bit shorter and the atmosphere has to

encourage an optimal concert experience.

We asked musicians if they wanted to

play for a young audience for the first time

in their career. It was surprising how many

of them took us up on it. Children are a

rewarding audience. They’re extremely

PIONEERING

honest and social conventions don’t bother

them. If they’re not interested, you’ve lost

their attention. The American cellist Tom

Cora experienced that when he played

his first solo concert for children at one

of the first editions of Oorsmeer. The kids

lost interest. At his third attempt, they

were captivated by every vibration of the

strings. Cora believes that the secret of his

success lay in two things: playing the best

concert of his life and communicating with

the children – looking at them, smiling,

showing the intensity of what he was doing

and not hiding behind his instrument.

It was pioneering work. Searching.

Falling and getting back up again. The

same applied to the artists and ensembles

we confronted with our requests.

It resulted in wonderful concerts that

brought many musical universes together.

To protect the children from their overenthusiastic

parents, no one was allowed to

attend two consecutive concerts. You were

obliged to take a break after every concert.

That is why we organised a trail of sound

installations. We called that part of the

festival ‘Voor de smeer’, which means ‘for

waxing it’, or lubrication. It included robots,

giant bamboo flutes as wide as an elevator

shaft, in which the rise and fall of the elevator

car changed the pitch of the flute, a

musical mobile with tuned clay flowerpots,

a musical haunted castle and so on.

We also organised an improvisation

session with children. The Brussels violinist

Baudouin De Jaer – today the head of

a music school – made graphic scores and

got dozens of children to perform them.

At the end of the session, the parents

were surprised with a little concert. If you

closed your eyes, it sounded like listening

to a group of adult musicians. That is how

intense, how good, the music was.

However, Oorsmeer did not limit itself

to the question of whether musicians

wanted to play for a young audience; it

also wanted to increase what was on offer.

We commissioned musicians to create

new work. The Czech violinist Iva Bittova

was one of them. She had made an album

in 1997 for which she worked with a

children’s choir. That idea was developed

into a fully-fledged production. It was an

exciting working process that unfolded

very organically. The playfulness that

Bittova brings to her music spread to the

children. Later, during the première, it

had a contagious effect on the audience as

well.

“A lot of music that

appeals to adults

can also fascinate

children.”

Oorsmeer challenged a generation of

musicians to play and create productions

for a young audience. The premise was

always that it had to be adult music performed

with a child’s energy. The festival

has astonished hundreds of children’s ears

with unusual music and enticed them into

listening more deeply and discovering new

worlds.

Oorsmeer has been called Big Bang

for some time now, and it has really taken

off. Today it is an internationally renowned

music festival for children that has made

a name for itself in many European cities

and even on other continents.

Recently I saw the production Liedjes

met Wortels (Songs with Roots) by Zonzo

Compagnie: a gorgeous production in

which three vocalists perform songs from

all over the world. After the concert I

learned that one of them had participated

in the production with Iva Bittova as a

child. The festival had come full circle…

Translated from Dutch

by Lot Yan Teresa




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