Mrs. Maša Vukanović, representative and member of Board of the Music Information Center of Serbia, participated in the annual Conference of the International Association of Music Information Centers (IAMIC).
Last year Music Information Centre of Serbia officially became a member of the International Association of Music Information Centers (IAMIC), but we became true member of the family at the Conference held from 14th until 17th of September this year in beautiful Latvian cities Rīga and Liēpaja. IAMIC is a family consisting of organizations from 35 countries around the globe – from New Zealand and Australia via Africa and Europe to Northern America.
The conference was attended by representatives of music centers from 20 countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Croatia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Slovakia, Serbia, Scotland, Spain, United Kingdom, Wales). The main desire and goal of the meeting was to connect even more strongly, exchange experiences and consider current topics related to the activity of the centers.
Decentralization as a goal of Latvian cultural policy was achieved – modern concert halls were built in several cities but not in the capital Rīga. Hence, Music Information Centre of Latvia has decided to organize the conference in both capital and important academic and music city of Liēpaja.
In Rīga conference was held in Latvian National Library, grandiose building from early 21st century whose architect had the visions of mountain peaks, diamond, and light. There, firstly we were greeted by boys from Rīga Cathedral Boys Choir who prepared short concert. Then, Mrs. Dace Vilsone, the State Secretary of Latvian Ministry of Culture welcomed the participants, expressing her and Ministry’s endorsements of Latvian Music Information Centre and IAMIC. Participants were also welcomed by IAMIC chairwoman, Mrs. Diana Marsh from SOUNZ Centre for New Zealand Music. Finally, welcoming word was given by Mr. Eglis Šēfers, president of of Latvian Music Information Centre.
Conference concept was to start with Latvian state of arts in music ecosystem, and in such way trigger the discussions in which all participants share experiences from their countries and give feedback and ideas to the others. Participants were coming from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, The Netherlands and, of course, me from Serbia.
What have we talked about?
¿? Music Education. In Latvia, besides the system of music schools, the role of amateurs’ associatons is also important. In Rīga the most reputable is National School of Arts consisting of the Cathedral Choir, fine arts and multimedia, ballet school and drama school. It is open for children and youth from 6 to 16 years of age. It operates as any other regular primary school with the same curriculums in, for example Latvian language, Maths, Biology, History, Science, etc, as any other school in Latvia. In addition are specific subjects depending on child’s interest. Within the Music School child can choose between choir and vocal music, conducting, instrumental music, and jazz.
Did you know that there are 34 music schools in Serbia? Ten of them have the department for traditional Serbian singing and traditional Serbian instrument player. Attending Music School in Serbia is additional to regular elementary and secondary school.
Music information centres ahould facilitate the exchange of experiences and ideas among musicians, music schools, amateurs’ associations, producers, and distributers of sound and music editions. By accurately sharing the information, MICs also contribute to coordination of activities planned by various actors in music ecosystems to contribute its development.
¿? Contribution of music ecosystems in the economy. Every Euro invested in culture in Latvia returns the profit of almost 1,5 Euros. Recent Latvian data about music enterpreneurship are similar to those in Serbia – an increase is recorded in the production of music instruments, then in recording and production of sound and music editions. Smallest percentage of increase is in retail and distribution of sound and music editions. Part of music ecosystem in Latvia are NGOs such is Latvian Music Information Centre. Mrs. Deborah Keyser, the director of Tȳ Cerdd – Music Centre Wales, noted that engaging in the production of sound and music editions as well as concerts and performances of less known musicians contributes the development of music ecosystem, though it may a bit diminish the light on the information circulation because the lack of staff makes a bit difficult to achieve information circulation aspects like connecting musicians with their fellows interesed to jam and create music, or arranging concerts and performances of local musicians abroad.
¿? Choir Music. Professional or amateurs’ choir music is representation of creativit5y in its own right. Voice is an instrument. Voice has various tones and shades. Conductor synchronizes them into unique melody. However, in many countries, there are but a few professional choirs. Hence lovers of choral music practice their passion in numerous amateurs’ choirs.
Did you know that in the Dutch (capital) city Den Haag almost 20.000 people actively sing in choires? Serbian Choral Association in 2021 had almost 120 members, mainly amateur choirs.
Especially for IAMIC Conference Latvian Radio Choir prepared a concert of compositions that firstlz premiered by the Latvian Radio Choir.
¿? Conteporary and alternative music – challenges and opportunities. In the sea of contemporary entertainment contemporary classical music sometimes seems as an alternative. Do symphonic orchestra have a future? What challenges faces a composer? What about the conductor? How to improve music education so the classical music have a better future? What challenges face festivals and what opportunities they bring? These questions are too complex to reach conclusions but they certainly spinned the wheels in our brains.
¿? Music and censorship. War in Ukraine raised the issue of censorship regarding Russian music. From one side, for quite long time music and other arts were used as propaganda tools by the Soviet regime. From the other side, composers such are Tchaikovsky, Shostakowitch and Prokoffiev made tremendeous contribution to the music of the world, while being closely watched by the regime. Also, many contemporary Russian musicians condamned the Ukraine war, putting their lives and lives of their families in danger. Clear contextualization of music with refferences on author’s biography is perceived as more prominent solution compared with total ignoring Russian music by simply bannig it from radio stations, concert halls, etc. This also emphasizes the importance of music education.
Didi you know that Shostakowitch’s music was twice, in 1936 and 1948, condamed by the Soviet regime and banned to perform on stage?
¿? Artificial Intelligence. Nowadays unavoidable Artificial intelligence in music is reflected in at least two aspects. One of them is experimenting with brain activities and music creation and connecting the recordings with instruments and other sound and music making devices. This aspect AI application in music was demonstrated by Jachin Pousson from Jāzeps Vitois Latvian Academy of Music. The other aspect of AI application in music is the usage of new and fastly developing software to create music. As IT specialist from the Institute of electronic and computer sciences dr Kārlis Freivalds showed, we can start the software, enter keywords and some general directions regarding style, and our lyrics will be generated. Same we can do to put the music to generated lyrics. And, Lo and Behold, the result may be rather decent song. Also, we can play with switching genres like “translating” Bach into heavy metal, pop tune into chamber orchestra piece, etc. Possibilities are endless. HOWEVER… Is it a work of a human or of a machine? What about the copyright? Although AI is a reality, so many issues need to be solved.
In Liēpaja program was organized in beautifully intriguing Great Amber Hall whose architect was inspired by famous Baltic amber. Great Amber Hall was opened in 2015 but during the Conference Liēpaja Symphonic Orchestra opened 143 concert season in this city, which speaks volumes about its music tradition.
The setting was perfect for….
¿? Sounds and music / listening as an art. Close your eyes for a five minutes. Focus only on what you hear. What 5 sounds have you heard? What did they told you? What kinds of stories? When you connect all sounds and all stories, what do you hear? What’s the story? Is it a ballad? Is it merry-go-round tune? Or a scream? Or a whisper that brings….
¿? Now what? We all face similar challenges: strengthening the role of NGOs in music ecosystems, sustainability in financial, commercial and communication terms, technology as in communication terms and also in terms of safeguarding traditionally diversed musical expressions. Participating and initiating discussions, offline and online, exchanging thoughts, ideas and experiences, finding comfort and giving strenght are of greatest importance for improving conditions so that musical creativity blossoms.
Participation @IAMIC Conference in Rīga and Liēpaja was supported by Goethe Institute – Culture Moves Programme #CultureMovesEurope and Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia.