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Asko|Schönberg, together with four leading European music ensembles, launches a new edition of >CONNECT: The Audience as Artist< the pioneering European partnership that breaks down barriers between artists and audiences.

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The new edition of >CONNECT: The Audience as Artist<, made possible by Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, will feature a new commission by Austrian-German composer Brigitta Muntendorf as well as welcomes a new fifth partner ensemble, Ensemble intercontemporain (Paris).

This groundbreaking multi-year project aims to redefine the relationship between artists and audiences by involving audiences as direct participants in specially commissioned new works. During the fifth edition of the CONNECT-project, made possible thanks to generous support from Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, composer Brigitta Muntendorf creating a work she describes as "a hybrid of artistic experience and audience research.... a social sculpture or experiment...." in which audiences comment in real time on the performance as they experience it, with their reactions visible to both audience and performers.

For this new (fourth) edition, the four founding ensembles of the project - London Sinfonietta, Asko|Schönberg, Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt) and Remix Ensemble Casa da Música (Porto) - will be joined for the first time by Ensemble intercontemporain (Paris), with performances of the new work by all five ensembles across Europe in the 2025-26 and 2026-27 seasons.

'CONNECT - The Audience as Artist' was initiated in 2015 by Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne as a challenge and provocation to the historical hierarchy between audience and artists. The project removes the barriers between composers, artists and audiences by commissioning and promoting new work, where public participants must be an inseparable part of the performance. Composers are inspired to experiment with the idea of shared curation, encouraging musicians to interact with audiences in new ways and empowering audiences to play their own roles in the artwork.

Between 2016 and 2021, five new works were premiered during three editions of the project, each composer approaching the task in a different way. The first CONNECT project in 2016 presented works by Christian Mason and Huang Ruo. The Gender Agenda by Philip Venables in 2018 turned the concert hall into a game show with the entire audience in participant. With his ORANGO in 2019, Oscar Bianchi invited a group from the audience, this time pre-selected and prepared in advance, to create and explore unusual worlds of sound on stage alongside the ensemble, maximising the audience's engagement with the piece.

Cathy Milliken also uses this idea in her piece Night Shift. Asko|Schönberg performs Night Shift out on the Day of the Composer, Saturday 15 June at De Vereeniging, Nijmegen Day of the Composer: Night Shift - Asko Schoenberg (askoschoenberg.nl).

The new 4th edition aims to develop a radical and new approach to the concept of "Audience as Artist". Composer Brigitta Muntendorf describes her piece as a "social sculpture" in which 'the audience must be transformed from its anonymous, purely receiving role' to active commentators and performers:

"The question is who with us is the audience, who shares the space and what can be the social experience we share during a concert. To create this kind of social experiment, I imagine a kind of show - a kind of TV or fictional show where the audience can ask or answer questions using real-time voice tools. And there's a band on stage, but they also change... maybe they change into something else... I'm really looking forward to this adventure.'

Fedor Teunisse, artistic director Asko|Schönberg:
'In this day and age, the boundaries between physical, mental and virtual worlds are blurring, and so is the role of the audience. In Brigitta Muntendorf's work, the audience is not a traditional spectator, but rather a co-determiner and co-player. As a result, both the audience and the performers jointly define the new rules of play for the concert space.'

The new work will be premiered by London Sinfonietta in the 2025-2026 season, and performances by the other ensembles are scheduled for 2026-2027.

View here CONNECT's trailer.

CONNECT is an initiative generously supported by ART MENTOR FOUNDATION LUSERNE in collaboration with London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Asko|Schönberg, Remix Ensemble Casa da Música and Ensemble intercontemporain.

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