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Mediating from within: Metaxical amplification as an alternative sonic environment for classical music performance

This doctoral dissertation explores classical music performance from a curatorial perspective, reflecting upon and challenging the traditional configuration of performance environments. Beginning with a consideration for the historical origins of absorbed attention and silence as the dominant mode of performing and hearing classical music, the subsequent chapters of this dissertation investigate alternatives to this mode by exploring artistic creations developed during this research. Informed by my combined experience as a curator and performer in the contemporary music field, these artistic creations use what I call ‘metaxical amplification’: the amplification of environmental sounds that are generally considered noise in the context of classical music performances, and that are therefore rarely considered in relation to the artistic experiences generated by these performances. Metaxical amplification proposes a reconfiguration of the performance environment and the ways in which attention unfolds within it. It also challenges traditional notions of musical interpretation within a work-centred performance culture, since the performance mode emerging from this form of amplification is not oriented towards the interpretation of musical works, but rather to the sonic exploration of musical environments through these works. More broadly, it propels the development of a practice in which musical interpretation, improvisation, and curatorial thinking are tightly interwoven. I discuss these findings in close dialogue with literature from various fields including sociology, philosophy and media theory, as well as through related examples from the fields of music, theatre, and the visual arts. Engaging in such wide-ranging dialogues generates theoretical and artistic insights that may prove useful for other performers, curators, and teachers in the fields of classical and contemporary music, and beyond.

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