Festival 2016

Concerts / Discussions / Composers / Musicians

21-23 October 2016

Specs On! is a festival for norm-critical perspectives on classical and contemporary music. We want to bring rules, norms, routines, patterns of attitudes and behavior into focus – and play some truly amazing music.

Through seven concerts composers who are being subject to structural discrimination will be explored, ranging from baroque to contemporary electro-acoustics.
By inviting musicologists, intendants and artistic directors our festival encourage collaborations between researchers and musicians. This way we ensure our festival's strong basis in science and knowledge, while curating a space for performance and art.

More specific information about the concert programme, artists and tickets can be found here!
This second version of Specs On! will take place at Kulturbüro Elisabeth in Berlin Mitte, 21-23 Oct 2016.

Festival 2015

Concerts / Discussions / Composers / Musicians

10-12 April 2015

What is Specs On?

Specs On! International Feminist Art Music Festival is aiming to create a platform for art music with a clear gender related focus.

Festival Concept

With queer theory as a starting point we are inviting you to an annual art music festival, with the assumption and hope that we will increase variety on the international art music scene and make other, more seldom heard stories be told.

In a series of chamber music concerts we will present works of non-normative composers ranging from baroque to contemporary electro-acoutics that easily could fit into the repertoire. We will also hold discussions with representatives from different parts of the music world; intendants, music professors, music teachers of varying teaching level, composer and musicians to bring the structural problems into light.

Not necessarily all participants will be women. The importance lies in showing pieces that do not belong to the norm or continue to reproduce the power structures already in place within classical music.

Background – why now?

Being one of the most segregated and gender stereotypical environments in the world, the field of classical music continues to avoid the issues of gender structures. The repertoire in itself and the decisions on new commissions are clearly gendered.
Female art music composers as well as composers with non-normative reference frames or onsets are still played to a lesser extent than their normative (male) equivalents.
Gender differences are huge when grants and prizes were awarded, shows a survey from Swedish National Radio. Of all the repertoire performed by Norwegian orchestras in 2013, only 0,055% was composed by women. During the past couple of years the Swedish Royal Philharmonics have had women conducting only 3% of the time. The prestigeous orchestras, like Berliner Philharmoniker and Wiener Staatsoper, have even openly discriminated women. Statistics from Bachtrack shows that of the Top 150 Conductors of the world, we find 5 women (3,33%) and the top list of composers we have to go down to place 260 to find 5 women. The list can go on and on.

While the current order of power is hiding behind unfounded statements about "The Quality of High Art" and how this concept of Quality cannot and should not be subject to political intervention, the general discussion often seems to land in the question of quotation.
For Third Wave Feminists that question is subordinate to the discussion of a widening of perspectives, an increased awareness of, discussion of and the ultimate change of gender related power structures.
In classical and contemporary art music that would more concretely mean a widening of the perspective of how quality in music is defined and questioning the current power structures that defines these and similar concepts.
The art music scene would be further vitalized if we dare to show a broader variety of views beyond those already in the norm.

This festival should have happened years ago. This should have been the consequence of the women rights movement in the early 1900s, or the second wave feminism during the 1970s. Even though the number of female composers and conductors have increased over the years, the discussion around why they don't reach the top segment of their discipline is missing. We need a thorough and broad debate of cause and consequence with our gender spectacles firmly put on.

Put your gender specs on!

Emil Roijer
Artistic Director
Sina Ural

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