Stephan Gehmacher
is Director General of the Philharmonie Luxembourg and Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. Before that he was in charge of artistic planning at the Berlin Philharmonic and manager of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Pascal Sticklies
holds a bachelor of music in classical guitar performance and a masters degree in International Arts Management. He is Senior Manager Education Department at Philharmonie Luxembourg and Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg.

A Hub of Music Education

There are all kinds of starting points for discovery trips in todays dynamic and developing music education scene. One journey might begin here: in the midpoint of Europe, in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, where the Philharmonie Luxembourg is situated. The concert hall is home to the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg (OPL).
The geographic position of a country with only 537000 inhabitants and with its multinational, yet deeply European identity, makes Luxembourg a fascinating locus for music education. Luxembourgs citizens live side-by-side with an international community of predominantly European provenance (percentage of foreigners 44,5%). At the same time, the most diverse currents of European music education converge in Luxembourg, such as performative and participatory approaches, creative and response projects focussed either on results or process, initiatives influenced by El Sistema, national singing initiatives as well as all forms of music learning, from digital to analogue, and many more.

Since its inauguration, music education has been an integral part of the Philharmonies mission. Providing easy access to a diverse range of live music for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds was initially an ambitious challenge since until the Philharmonie opened in 2005 there was no major concert hall in the country. Today, one year before its tenth anniversary, the hall presents a constantly evolving programme with over 400 events each season, that cover a multiplicity of music genres and formats. Since the merger of the Philharmonie with the OPL, symphonic repertoire with its rich tradition and its concert mediation or interactive concert possibilities, have gained in importance.

In the planning stage and throughout the artistic production process, the concept of music mediation is a vital organisational principle that informs the way a concert format is perceived by the public. The guiding question of music mediation when characterised by music curatorial considerations is this: How can a concert be designed so that it offers listeners ideal avenues of entry to the music being played? One answer is provided by OPLs Dating. In this concert format, listeners are offered a moderated approach to a symphonic work in the first half, paving the way for an intense encounter with the work performed in its entirety in the second half. An example for a relaxed meeting between high-brow and popular music is offered in the orchestras format Aventure+: standard orchestra repertoire is mirrored by the unusual or adventurous but informal After Concert.

Young concert visitors with their unique needs are at the heart of our prize-winning programmes for young audiences. This programme area offers 160 concerts each season for young people from 0 to 17 years of age and reaches over 4000 subscribers. Noteworthy in Luxembourgs concert education is its polyglot nature. Childrens concerts are presented in four languages: Luxembourgish, German, English, and French. And in 2015, when the planned addition of a Portuguese series comes to fruition, the Philharmonie will be Europes only concert hall to offer subscription series for young audiences in five languages.

Concert formats tailor-made for different age groups permit a seamless series of encounters with live music, from birth to adulthood. The concert series for babies, 1.2..3... musique (zero to three years of age), consists of three lovingly designed music productions that employ non-verbal and gestural play and take place on weekdays. The subscription series Loopino and Bout'chou for children from three to five years of age are presented in Luxembourgish, English and French by an actor with whom the children can identify with throughout the season. For this age group, the productions have attained a singularly high level of musical quality. In Loopino, interpreters such as Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Ian Bostridge, the Faur Quartet, and Maximilian Hornung demonstrate their commitment to young audiences. In hands-on music workshops, children can discover sounds and music together with a Loopino concert educator and guest musicians. Concert series such as Philou and Musek erzielt (five to nine year-olds) or Miouzik (nine to twelve year-olds) present scenic concert formats that incorporate other arts, such as theatre and dance. Elaborate productions, such as the percussion show Drumblebee, have been developed in-house. Subsequently they have been invited to perform in Washington, Berlin, Vienna, and Cologne, and by now, they set the benchmark for contemporary music education formats. The flagship of orchestra music mediation is OPL Familles. In four concerts, the series opens up the world of symphonic repertoire and orchestral sound to children aged from seven to twelve. The subscription series iPhil, for young people aged from 13 to 17, has its own ambassador who designs mediation and other accompanying programmes for the iPhil community.

The performance strand is increasingly complemented by participatory programmes that allow visitors to perform music themselves as, for example, in the numerous OPL school workshops or in amateur stage projects. OPL musicians play a key role in this process, and it is the duty of the institution to develop musicians mediatory skills through continued training. To this end, the Philharmonie is sponsoring a new education format in the field of music mediation especially for musicians: Music Education Academy. The journey is just beginning.
This article was first published in Arts Management Newsletter May 2014.
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