Curating Diversity 2020

Decolonizing Contemporary Music

25.9.2020, 10.30 - 20 Uhr

Symposium (online + live onsite in Berlin), Akademie der Künste Berlin, Pariser Platz, Plenarsaal


The symposium “Curating Diversity in Europe”, taking place on- and offline, offers a platform for keeping the discourse on diversity in contemporary music in Europe alive, developing potentials for transformation during a time of limited international encounters and swelling nationalistic currents. The focus of the symposium is on processes and profiles of curating that critically question power structures and eurocentric patterns of thought, to implement political, collective or participatory strategies in the curatorial decision-making process. Keynotes by Du Yun and Sandeep Bhagwati will be followed by panel discussions on emancipation, decolonisation and "looted music".

The symposium is planned in a hybrid format. All content (keynotes, panels, chats and networking) will be transmitted live to onsite participants at the Akademie der Künste, and simultaneously via internet to an online audience; content will continue to be accessible after the symposium as online video documentation. With this hybrid format, we want to strengthen the international networking and at the same time enable personal meetings.

The symposium is a project of "Sounds Now", a European network dedicated to promoting more diversity and inclusion in contemporary music and sound art, in cooperation with the Akademie der Künste Berlin, inm / field notes and Ultima festival in Oslo.

The symposium will be held in English.
Coffee and tea, lunch and dinner are provided.

Media partner: VAN outernational

The symposium will be continued in May 2021 as part of the "Memories in Music" festival (May 6-9, 2021) at the Akademie der Künste.


10:30 a.m. On-site: Arrival and informal meet and greet

11:30 a.m. Welcome
by Jeanine Meerapfel (President of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin) and organisers Julia Gerlach (Secretary of the Music Section of the Akademie der Künste), Thorbjørn Tønder Hansen (Artistic Director, Ultima Festival Oslo), Lisa Benjes (Director of the field notes Program by the inm – initiative neue musik berlin e.V.)

Part 1: Emancipating the Curatorial Process, Curating After Covid-19

11:45 a.m. Keynote “Multifaceted Curating” (working title) by Du Yun

(Professor of Composition at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and distinguished visiting professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, free curator, USA)

12:45 a.m. On-site: Coffee break
12:45 a.m. Online: Music presented by cdrk

1:00 p.m. Panel I: The Emancipation of Curating

In the first panel, we will explore strategies for the emancipation of curatorial processes from current power structures. These include participatory, dialogical and process-oriented approaches, as well as collective and self-organized, automatic and random forms of program development. The focus is on the role of curators today in fostering diversity and provoking change by negotiating topics that are relevant for a pluralistic society. In addition, we will discuss how regional contexts can change perspectives on curating and create completely new approaches and musical emphases that shift our understanding of contemporary music itself.

with Stefanie Carp (Director Ruhrtriennale, D), Artyom Kim (Omnibus Ensemble, UZ), Sharif Sehnaoui (Co-founder and artistic director of Irtijal Festival, RL), Du Yun (Professor of Composition at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and distinguished visiting professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, free curator, USA)
Moderation: Thorbjørn Tønder Hansen (Artistic Director, Ultima Festival Oslo)

2:15 p.m. On-site: Coffee break

Part 2: Curatorial Profiles and Perspective

3:00 p.m. Keynote “Curating Musicking as a Mode of Wakefulness in Interesting Times” by Sandeep Bhagwati (Composer, Curator, Professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University Montreal, CA)

Download Keynote

4:00 p.m. On-site: Coffee break
4:00 p.m. Music presented by cdrk

4:15 p.m. Panel II: Decolonizing the Curating Discourse in Europe

We will examine how a discourse focused on colonial, musical and intellectual history can inflect the curatorial practice. Based on this, it will be considered to what extent cultural institutions have to be rethought and canons to be questioned in order to enable a realignment of musical epistemologies and to recognize the equal coexistence of various musical traditions.

with Sandeep Bhagwati, George Lewis (Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University, USA), Elaine Mitchener (contemporary vocalist, movement artist and composer, GB), Anothai Nitibhon (Vice President for Academic and Research, Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music and free curator, T)
Moderation: Christos Carras (Executive Director at Onassis Cultural Centre - Athens, GR)

5:30 p.m. On-site: Networking Walk
5:30 p.m.Online: Networking – ZOOM

6:00 p.m. Online: Music presented by cdrk

6:15 p.m. Panel III: Archives and Transcultural Composition. “Looted Music” and Accessibility

In parallel to the restitution debates in the visual arts, the question of how to deal with “looted music” also arises in music: how can one advocate for musical traditions that have been marginalized or threatened by cultural missionary processes? Under what circumstances have our archives been set up and how we can ensure that archive materials are adequately examined and contextualized with regard to their colonial background? What alternative forms of archives are there? Who do the artefacts belong to and who has access to them?

with Carlos Gutierrez (Composer, Artistic Director OEIN, RB), Lars Christian Koch (Director of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s collections at the Humboldt Forum, D), meLê yamomo (Assistant Professor of Theatre, Performance and Sound Studies at the University of Amsterdam / NL, RP, D), Tiago de Oliveira Pinto (UNESCO Chair Holder “Transcultural Music Studies” University of Music Franz Liszt, D)
Moderation: Julia Gerlach (Secretary of the Music Section of the Akademie der Künste)

7:30 p.m. Open Panel: Exchange about the topics of the day, perspectives for topics in May 2021

8:00 p.m. On-site: informal picnic with a musical intervention

All contributions will be documented and made available on:

Download Program


Anothai Nitibhon (Bangkok, Thailand) is an educator, composer and curator who bases her musical research on the idea of the intercultural and dialogues between cultures, through works of compositions, performances, sound installations and exhibitions. She has also hosted an annual International Symposium and ASEAN Youth Ensemble Project at PGVIM: both events focus on exploring the context in which Western and local musics can encourage dialogue while remaining connected to the people and their local value. After obtaining her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Nigel Osborne from the University of Edinburgh, Anothai became Chair of the Postgraduate Program at the Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music (PGVIM) in Bangkok, Thailand. She still enjoys performing, creating and collaborating with artists from around the globe.

Artyom Kim (Tashkent, Uzbekistan) is a composer, conductor and theatre director. In 2004 he founded the Omnibus Ensemble – the first and only group in Central Asia, which is focused on promoting contemporary music. Collaborations with outstanding artists from Europe and America, created the Omnibus Ensemble’s reputation of a platform, where Innovation meets Tradition, and East meets West.

Carlos Gutiérrez Quiroga (La Paz, Bolivia) is a composer, researcher and the director of the Experimental Orchestra of Indigenous Instruments (OEIN). He is interested in exploring the influence of indigenous music on the integral processes of composition, acoustic technologies, interpretation and perception.

Du Yun (New York, USA), is a Chinese born composer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, performance artist, activist, and curator for new music. She won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her opera Angel’s Bone. She was a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow. In 2019 she was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Composition category for her work Air Glow.

Elaine Mitchener, born and raised in East London of Jamaican heritage, is a contemporary vocalist, movement artist and composer. She is founder of collective electroacoustic trio The Rolling Calf. Her sound works are held in a curated collection by George E Lewis at Darmstadt Festival, and also featured at Holland and Ruhrtriennale Festivals.

More on Elaine Mitchener here and here.

George E. Lewis (New York, USA) is Professor of American Music at Columbia University, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, a MacArthur Fellow and a Guggenheim Fellow. Lewis’s compositions have been performed by ensembles worldwide, and he holds honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh, New College of Florida, and Harvard University.

Explore articles by George E. Lewis:

“Lifting the Cone of Silence From Black Composers,” New York Times, July 3, 2020

“A Small Act of Curation.” In “Curating Contemporary Music” edited by Lars Petter Hagen and Rob Young, 11-22. On Curating 44, January 2020

“Improvising Tomorrow’s Bodies: The Politics of Transduction.” E-misférica, Vol. 4.2, November 2007

Gittin’ to Know Y’all: Improvised Music, Interculturalism and the Racial Imagination. Critical Studies in Improvisation (peer-reviewed online journal), Vol. 1, No. 1, ISSN 1712-0624

Lars-Christian Koch (Berlin, Germany) is director of the Ethnological Museum and the Asian Art Museum Berlin, as well as director of Collections at the Humboldt Forum Berlin. He is Professor for Ethnomusicology at the University of Cologne and Honorary Professor for Ethnomusicology at the University of the Arts in Berlin. He has conducted field work in India, as well as in South Korea.

meLê yamomo is Assistant Professor of Performance Studies (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands), the author of Sounding Modernities, laureate of the »Veni Innovation Grant« for his project »Sonic Entanglements: Listening to Modernities in Southeast Asian Sound Recordings«, and resident artist at Theater Ballhaus Naunynstraße.

Explore articles by meLê yamomo:

Transregionale Forum Studien. “Echoing Europe – Postcolonial Reverberations”. Interview with meLê yamomo.

Van Outernational Online Magazine. Wie klingt Kolonialismus? meLê yamomo im Interview.

Textures-Online Platform for Interweaving Performance Cultures. “Sometimes you only have to listen…” About the sonic entanglements of our colonial past.

Sharif Sehnaoui (Beirut, Lebanon) is a guitarist who specialises in free improvisation. Together with Mazen Kerbaj, Sehnaoui co-founded Irijal, an experimental music festival that has taken place annually since 2001 in Beirut – the only one of its kind in the Arab world. In addition, he has initiated several experimental music CD labels under the umbrella of Al Maslakh records.

Stefanie Carp (Berlin, Germany) is a dramaturg and artistic director oft he Ruhrtriennale 2018, 19 and 20. She co-directed the Zürcher Schauspielhaus before becoming theatre director oft he Wiener Festwochen. She has also been visiting professor at the German Institute for Literature in Leipzig and chief dramaturg at the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin.

More on Stefanie Carp here and here.

Tiago de Oliveira Pinto (Weimar, Germany) a native of São Paulo, Brazil, is Chair Holder on Transcultural Music Studies at the University of Music Franz Liszt, Weimar and Head of its joint Musicology Department with Friedrich Schiller University, Jena. Pinto has carried out musicological fieldwork in Brazil, Portugal, Turkey, South-East Asia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and South Africa. He has curated art and anthropological exhibitions, produced records and organised music festivals and cultural events.