Symposium 2010

“Utopia and Freedom in Music” - 17 Sept. 2010

Thoughts on the Possibilities and Reality of an Art Form. Lectures and Discussions.

Friday, 17 September 2010
Gremiensaal of Deutsche Welle, Bonn

For all its formal laws and its restriction to a limited stock of sounds and noises, the basic principle of music, in contrast to other arts, is its fleeting character, its close relationship with passing time; no sooner have the components of the musical composition appeared, than they are given back their freedom. Sound art perhaps illustrates most clearly the draft character of any art: an artist creates a new form of his expression for his or her view of the world; the process in which this occurs is, for anyone listening attentively to musical works of art, comprehensible every time anew, and perhaps it allows an insight into how the personality of the artist penetrates reality, portrays conflicts, and seeks for solutions. In the post-productive reception, in the interpretation and in the critique, the listener also has a share in the completion of the artwork, which is objectified by this reflexion. In addition, not only do the wishes and yearnings of the artist go into the artwork, they are also evoked in the listener and give the reality of the creative or perceptive process a utopian dimension.

Through lectures and panel discussions, the symposium on 17 September 2010 was seeking to question the utopian content of music and of art generally. Can it open up rooms in which the intimation of a higher harmony and absoluteness is possible, or is this hope an illusion, mere pathos? Is utopian impetus not a basic feature of all artistic creativity? For which artists is the utopian perspective particularly characteristic, and how is this conveyed in their work? This event was not supposed to be a musicological congress, the intention is also to cast practical light on the topic. Two sessions therefore were devoted to projects in the Congo and Brazil in which communal music-making not only expands the horizon of each individual, but also radiates its influence into the wider social context. The members of the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste from Kinshasa and the youth orchestra Sinfônia Heliópolis from São Paulo experience very directly what it means to shape one’s own freedom through music and to wrest what is possible from the existing realities.