Close Encounters - Chamber Music in Small Venues

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Tomlinson, Vanessa

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Lancaster, Helen

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Chamber music originated in the intimate setting of a small room, or chamber, but has in recent times found a large and appreciative audience at performances in mainstream concert halls. In parallel, many artists and promoters are recreating the intimate concert experience in small venues, many of which are community venues away from the mainstream venue circuit. Australia’s Artico Ensemble is a quartet of professional musicians specialising in creating chamber music performances in small community venues such as churches, museums, and private homes in and around Brisbane, Queensland. Their experiences form the basis of this Doctoral research study, in which a mixed-method ethnographic case study of Artico Ensemble investigates the experience of engaging in this type of performance from the viewpoint of the three partners involved: the artists, the audience and the venue administrators. In this dissertation, the four ensemble members provide the artists’ story, and results of an audience survey create a demographical profile of Artico Ensemble’s audience members, an analysis of their listening and concert attending habits and an exploration of their experience of attending the specific case study concert. Personal interviews with venue administrators highlight their experience of and motives for undertaking management of these events. Generated by the study’s second line of enquiry, this dissertation also presents findings regarding the strengths and challenges of this type of music making for all involved. To clarify its context, comparisons are drawn with International and Australian literature investigating arts participation, audience and community engagement, and the chamber music experience. As a member of Artico Ensemble, my position as artist and researcher will provide the lived-in experience of self-reflective and practice-led artistic research. This doctoral study crosses over into practice-based research through the inclusion of two short documentary trailers, which have served to generate data as well as highlight study findings.

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Thesis (Professional Doctorate)

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Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Queensland Conservatorium

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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Chamber music

Artico Ensemble

Ethnographic case study

Demographical profile

Practice-based research

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