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Issue 26

(Spring 2015)






Pavlos Kavouras: Western art music at the time of crisis: An interdisciplinary study of contemporary Greek culture and European integration


This essay introduces the research project “Western art music at the time of crisis: An interdisciplinary study of contemporary Greek culture and European integration”. The project focuses on the period starting from 2008 until the present, which may be considered as the timeframe of the economic, social and cultural crisis in Greece. In terms of methodology, it involves a pioneering connection of historical musicology with ethnomusicology. Contemporary Greek culture is studied as a unifying or diversifying reality with respect to the European Union. This issue is examined in the context of the expression and reception of Western art music in contemporary Greece. Subsequently, the main terms employed in the project are defined (crisis, European integration, and Western art music) and the overall method used is presented through a critical review of disciplinary developments in music studies, the relationship between ethnomusicology and historical musicology, and the use of a new approach that combines music ethnography and historiography with an interpretative anthropological perspective. The article concludes with a succinct description of the general planning of the research undertaken with respect to the three main research foci, namely “education”, “music ensembles and cultural organisations”, and “festivals”. An overview of the particular conceptual framework that was adopted for the research and the synthesis of the research results, with reference to the concepts “networks”, “practice”, “performance”, “habitus”, “event” and the theory of new institutionalism, is also provided. A brief presentation of the other essays of this issue follows, focusing on methodological convergences and divergences vis-à-vis the project’s overall method.



Jim Samson: Music in crisis: Key terms and concepts


This article is a contribution to the theoretical framework of the project in question, with reference to its employment in specific aspects of the research. It concentrates, in particular, on the concepts “practice” (according to Pierre Bourdieu –with an emphasis on the dialectical relationship between innovation and inertia– as well as Alasdair MacIntyre – with reference to the “ethos” of a practice), “event” (according to Alain Badiou), as well as the theory of new institutionalism (by Walter W. Powell and Paul J. DiMaggio). Apart from specific suggestions for the application of this theoretical framework in the case of Greece, the author also presents respective examples from his own research in the broader area of the Balkans (Albania, Kosovo, Republika Srpska, Bosnia, FYROM) and Cyprus.



Rachel Beckles Willson: A project in flux: Tracing lines, heterogeneities, and interactions


This article presents the interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological framework that the author proposes for the study of Western art music by combining historical musicology with anthropological perspectives. In particular, the models of “relational thinking” and “gatherings of lines” (according to Tim Ingold) as well as the “heterogeneous” practices that are treated in terms of “interactions” of various factors (according to Doreen Massey) shape a conceptual area in which the author attempts a combined ethnographical and historiographical approach. Beckles Willson examines the ways in which this conceptual framework may be applied to the project’s three main research areas (“education”, “cultural organisations and music ensembles”, and “festivals”), bringing into play examples from her own research in a different area: Palestine.



Anastasios Hapsoulas: Western art music and Greek music education: Crisis and prospects


This article constitutes a critical overview of the area of music education in Greece. Having as a starting point the reception of Greek antiquity in Europe, the author continues by discussing the introduction and development of Western art music in contemporary Greece. Moreover, he presents the problems of institutionalised music education that are due to general unsatisfactory political and state practices in the area of education and culture, especially concerning comprehensive secondary schools as opposed to pilot schools, music schools, institutions of higher education, as well as conservatories. The article exposes in detail the problems that predate the crisis that were aggravated because of it. It also highlights issues that emerged for the first time as a result of the crisis. Subsequently, it focuses on the question of music education specifically, and attempts to trace an audience that has been initiated into “classical” music. Finally, the author underlines the need to upgrade music education according to the conclusions of the research on music education in Greece at the time of crisis.



Nick Poulakis: Institutions in crisis? Music ensembles and cultural organisations in 21st-century Greece


This article tackles the issue of the political economy of Western art music in Greece at the time of the social, cultural and economic crisis (2008-2014) through a critical examination of certain performative and administrative music and cultural institutions, in particular music ensembles and cultural organisations. It examines Greek cultural policy over the last thirty years and its connection with the respective European policy especially with reference to Western art music. Subsequently, the crisis of music institutions is studied as an “event” that leads to transformations of the cultural, economic, administrative and artistic habitus. The article analyses the ambivalent practices and networks of people and institutions in the realm of Western art music as these emerged during the crisis. Finally, a case study follows, which concentrates on the profile of the Greek National Opera since 2011, attempting a critical discourse analysis of the construction and performance of its public presence.



Katerina Levidou: Surviving the crisis: Summer festivals of Western art music in contemporary Greece


In the context of the difficulties incurred by the economic and socio-political crisis in Greece, there is an area of cultural activity that seems to resist the overall –negative for the arts– climate, an area that not only is not shrinking but, on the contrary, is blossoming. That is the realm of cultural festivals and, more specifically, festivals of Western art music. The author initially delimits the area of festivals from the anthropological perspective of “cultural performance”. She subsequently presents the festival activity that relates to Western art music in contemporary Greece, particularly during the years of the crisis. The article focuses, primarily, on summer festivals that consist of concerts only. The Nafplion Festival, the Festival of Cyclades (on Syros), Mani-Sonnenlink (in the Mani area) and Serenata Kriti (on Crete) serve as case studies for this enquiry. The questions of the festivals’ relationship with the local communities and their interaction with the local habitus are analysed, as well as the interface of private initiative and the public sector in shaping the activities, practices and aims of festivals. Moreover, the role of volunteering and tourism is brought to the fore. The article concludes with an examination of the important part played by artistic networks in maintaining the institution of festivals of Western art music in Greece.



Alexia Kallergi-Panopoulou: Private conservatories and music schools in Greece: A comparative study of the principal institutions of music education during the economic crisis


This essay presents the author’s research results on Western art music at the time of crisis with reference to the area of education, focusing on private conservatories and music schools. The research was conducted through fieldwork and interviews with musicians and music teachers from all the areas and levels of private and state education. The essay discusses the teachers’ and students’ anxieties, the teaching methods, and the consequences on the artistic level of the economic crisis, as well as the students’ specific interest in Western art music. The author concludes with an account of the main findings of the research and a proposition for an alternative approach to the teaching of Western art music with an experiential orientation that may be developed through music workshops and music ensembles.



Eva Fourlanou: The Athens Concert Hall: Bridging art and education


This essay examines the contribution of the Athens Concert Hall to the cultivation of a Western bourgeois education in Greece through Western art music. The author explores the social and historical aspects of the connection of this specific cultural and artistic institution with Greek reality. She also discusses the overall framework of the institution’s existence and operation in relation to ideological and practical dimensions, such as the prospect of a “cultural purification” of Greece according to the Western model. This study employs research tools from the areas of ethnomusicology and historical musicology, and is based on a historiographical and ethnographical approach to the study of music institutions and cultural organisations. Subsequently, the Athens Concert Hall’s educational practices are approached ethnographically as social and cultural practices. Moreover, the historical orientation of this ethnography allows the author to observe and highlight the issues she studies in the essay since the very founding of this specific organisation, with an emphasis on the period of the crisis.



Giorgos Manouselis: The Ergon at work: Mapping changes in the political economy of Western art music through the case study of the Ergon Ensemble


The shrinking of the financial and administrative aspects of cultural institutions during the crisis does not necessarily involve a shrinking of the cultural-artistic aspects with respect to the performance of Western art music. The Ergon Ensemble, discussed in this essay, is a case in point. The author maps the activity of this music ensemble and highlights the particularity of this case, which is associated with a tendency to review the established principles of artistic and cultural institutions aiming at a new type of organisation and administration. Some characteristics of music groups such as the Ergon Ensemble are the respect to the musical reality and experiences, the habitus and the symbolic capital and, finally, the personal artistic and cultural “ethos” of the musicians involved.



Dionyssis Mallouhos: Classical music in Kalamata at the time of the economic crisis


This essay offers a presentation of classical music’s place in the broader area of Kalamata during the years of the economic crisis. Serving as Director of the Kalamata Municipal Conservatory since the August of 2009, the author attempts to overturn certain established views regarding the situation surrounding classical music in the Greek periphery. In the first part of the essay, the author examines the place of Western art music in Kalamata, the town itself as well as the broader area, the town’s relations to Athens, and its contacts with people and institutions from abroad, especially Europe. In the second part, he identifies the impact of the economic crisis on certain aspects of the classical music scene, such as education, concerts, and the presence of various individuals: parents, students, artists, teachers, members of the audience and musicians.



Georgia Vavva: Western art music in the “community”: The case of the Music Village


The Music Village was officially founded in 2006 and ever since it has been organised continuously every year in the second half of August, in the village of Agios Lavrentios in Pelion. This collective institution hosts a wide range of musical genres and an equally wide range of participants in its various events. Its indisputable popularity, the author notes, is due to the fundamental distinction the organisers make between the concepts of “festival” and “community”, maintaining that the Music Village is not a music festival but a musical community. The author explores the concept of the community ethnographically with reference to the Music Village, examining the communal conceptions and practices of the music groups that appear in it. She also investigates the Music Village’s relationship with the hosting village, Agios Lavrentios. The author makes the point that a “communal” engagement with music, as in the case of the Music Village, constitutes a creative and effective response to difficulties posed by the crisis.



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