So often as artists or presenters we create and then share works with no idea of how they will be received by audiences. We start from a place of excitement or fascination and hope that those who consume our work will feel some of that, too. After it is over we try to gauge its reception with the sound of applause, box office numbers. But even in more traditional performance contexts, there are examples of performers inviting more direct audience feedback, such as when guest fortepianist Malcoln Bilson urged Tafelmusik audiences to talk or applaud during a piece or encore individual movements.
At this year’s Nuit Blanche I participated in The Composition Engine, a sound installation at Trinity College Chapel that invited attendees to interact with musical performers with a simple system of switches. People seemed delighted at the combinations they created or what resulted by chance.
Although it is clearly not always feasible to provide such opportunities for audience participation, it is tempting to consider how this might be done and begs the question of how opening up greater space for interaction might affect the present listeners or their future experiences.