Taking the Temperature: Discussing Diversity in New Music

What are the contemporary music(s) of a diverse society, and what structures and institutions do we need in order to support it? How can women and minorities gain better access to musical education? What are our responsibilities as state-subsidized music programmers to the “omnivorous” cultural diets of 21st century audiences?

Through symposia at Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques and Oslo’s Ultima Festival for Contemporary Music, as well as an exchange of researchers between Sweden and Québec, this project will initiate a series of dialogues with key actors in the musical field in order to explore these important issues. Its objective is to aid conservatories, festivals, concert halls, and ensembles to develop sustainable new paths forward that are both artistically rigorous and engaging for today’s audiences.

The project’s overall objective is to promote the creation and transfer of knowledge about potential solutions to gender equality and cultural diversity among experts and administrators in the musical sector in Nordic countries and in Québec. More specifically, two key areas of thematic focus have been identified as preliminary steps towards achieving these goals, namely a focus on issues of diversification of one, the people participating in existing musical institutions and two, the diversification of the musical practices and formats programmed.

The outbreak of the pandemic, and the subsequent imposition of travel restrictions and restrictions on gathering have meant that the project has been adapted. The 2020 Ultima Festival saw the launch of a preliminary publication of interviews with artists and experts around these issues. This will be followed by a residency of members of Konstmusiksystrar in Montreal and symposium at the Montreal New Music in February 2021. Our last event is a residency by a Québec-based curator in Stockholm investigating these issues, connected with a final symposium at the 2021 edition of the Ultima Festival. A final publication of the project will bring together our collected insights and experiences, in order to share these results and discussions with a wider audience.

The project’s stakeholders are Konstmusiksystrar (SE), Ultima Festival (NO), Concordia University/Matralab (QC), and SMCQ (Société de musique contemporaine du Québec) (QC).