Audience interactive experiences with a walk-by inflatable concert tent in which musicians improvise light and sound performances

Anna McMichael (Performer), Damiean Barbeler (Performer)

Research output: Non-textual formMusic PerformanceResearch

Abstract

The classical music field is searching for ways to reach new audiences and to dispel the mystique that makes
classical musical inaccessible to many. This project aimed to challenge concert stereotypes of silent, seated,
respectful and elderly audiences. Our ‘Sound Bubble’ multimedia and interactive installation moved the venue out
of concert halls and into public places and public gatherings of diverse people. We enabled people to enjoy
interacting informally with light and sound electronics (mediated by Barbeler) and with the violinist (McMichael)
who inside the plastic ‘bubble’ responded to its changing sound and light show and to passers-by through music

This practice-led research explored innovative ways to present classical music to new audiences. It involved three
disciplinary approaches: classical music informed my study of violin improvisation; the theatrical aspect involved
researching gestural performance techniques and audience participation; technology involved sound and light and
live electronics. Four outcomes are notable. We produced a replicable framework for a new mode of presentation,
extended performance techniques, and vivid multimedia technology. Our dozen performances attracted many
younger people compared to the usual older concert-goers. People took copious photographs and videos indicating
their engagement and that Instagram can spread the message that classical music can be fun. Finally, our
performance invitations show this project is widely regarded as a success. We expect more opportunities (post
pandemic) to spread knowledge about bringing classical music via new concert platforms to new audiences.

Our project has received national and international recognition as a successful innovative classical music
performance installation. We were invited to perform at the Vivid Festival in Sydney (2016 and in 2017),
which is a large-scale annual festival of light, music and ideas, sponsored by the NSW government and
the private sector. We were a headline act at MOFO (Museum of Old and New Art: Festival Of Music and
Art) annual festival in January 2018 in Launceston, Tasmania. We also had an invitation to the Dubai
World Expo in 2020/21 (cancelled due to Covid-19). Presented findings at 42nd Musicological Society
Australia National Conference (2019).

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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