OPEN CALL: Sounds Now curator course

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Open Call: Sounds Now curator course

OPEN CALL: Sounds Now curator course

The new music world is often perceived as elitist, niche and cut from "the real world" in an ivory tower of institutionally protected experimentalism.

Although there have been many counter-examples of composers, performers and ensembles who have engaged in radical ways with the social issues that they consider critical, and although new production, distribution, and consumption models have blurred the boundaries between genres it remains the case that new music, like all other contemporary creative sectors, needs to think hard and deeply about the engrained structures of power that perpetuate exclusions of many kinds and distort programming in favor of Eurocentric aesthetics and performance practices.

Sounds Now is a Creative Europe co-funded project, bringing together 9 European festivals and cultural centres who share the ambition to transform the way music programs are developed and presented to the public. The project is concerned with the way in which curation reproduces the same patterns of power and exclusion that are dominant at all levels of our societies. It focuses on curatorial work as a way to promote inclusion in contemporary music and sound art. By bringing new voices and new perspectives, the project targets the wider, long-term impact of diversifying contemporary music creation and its audiences.

One of the key activities that aims to move this process along is the series of curator courses. Led by Sounds Now mentors and experts from the music world and other professional fields, the course explores conceptual notions of curating. Topics include how to reach new audiences, whom do curators serve exactly, what does curating mean in our time, the importance of inclusion in curating practices and more. In this way, emerging curators are offered a rare space to reflect and exchange on their role in art and society, in a uniquely musical context.

The first curator course will take place in Athens, at Onassis Stegi from November 30th to December 3rd 2021 and will be led by Julia Gerlach, Du Yun, and Vigdis Jakobsdottir. The course is addressed to young (max. 35 yrs) cultural professionals with a proven interest in musical programming that goes beyond received stereotypes of genre, and who conceive of their work as engaged with critical issues of social justice. An ability to follow presentations and participate in workshops using the English language is a prerequisite. The course will include plenary sessions, breakout work sessions, and one-on-one sessions with the mentors. Participants will be required to prepare for the course using assignments that will be sent to them in advance.

Submit your application until October 15, 2021. 


DU YUN, born and raised in Shanghai, China, and currently based in New York City, works at the intersection of opera, orchestral, theatre, cabaret, musical, oral tradition, public performances, electronics, visual arts, and noise.

Her second opera, Angel’s Bone, won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize; in 2018 she was named a Guggenheim Fellow; and in 2019, she was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Composition category for her work Air Glow. As a curator for new music and art, she was a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble; served as the Artistic Director of MATA Festival (2014-2018); conceived the Pan Asia Sounding Festival; and founded an ongoing multi-year FutureTradition Initiative in China.


A curator and producer of contemporary music and sound art, Julia Gerlach served as project coordinator and curator at the ZKM I Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe, and later headed the Music division of the Artists-in-Berlin Program of the DAAD from 2012 to 2018. Currently she is Secretary of the Music Department of Akademie der Künste in Berlin.

Her curatorial practice includes concerts and sound installations in public space, interdisciplinary formats between music, visual arts, dance, literature, improvisation, transcultural projects and festivals. She is interested in challenging the notion of contemporary music and curation within the structure of the Akademie der Künste.


Vigdis Jakobsdottir is an Icelandic theatre director and educator and has been Artistic Director and CEO of Reykjavik Arts Festival since 2016. The multidisciplinary festival is the leading arts festival in Iceland and has been running since 1970.

Vigdis is passionate about the ability of the arts to challenge conceptions, shape society and celebrate humanity. She feels strongly that access to the arts should not be reserved for the privileged few but should be accessible to all. Throughout her practice she continuously explores ways to reach out to an ever broader audience demographic through meaningful artistic exchanges.

For many years Vigdis was Head of Education at the National Theatre of Iceland, programme director for MA studies in Theatre Education at Iceland University of the Arts and has initiated two theatre festivals in her home country. She was on the Executive committee of ASSITEJ from 2011-2017.

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