ULYSSES Audience Research Blog #8 – ‘Tales from Estonia’ at Flagey (BE)

01/2018 HfMT – DE


My latest Audience Research trip took me to Flagey in Brussels for the closing concert of their Arvo Pärt Weekend. Here, fellow ULYSSES Network partner, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, performed works by four Estonian composers: Ülo Krigul, Liisa Hirsch, Veljo Tormis and of course, Arvo Pärt. Impressively for a Sunday evening concert, Flagey’s c. 800-seat Studio 4 was at full capacity and this eager audience returned piles of (yet-to-be-counted) questionnaires. This concert presented a mixture of older and newer works, covering a compositional timespan of 1967 to 2017, so it’ll be interesting to see what the audience made of this combination. The programmed works by Veljo Tormis (1930-2017) certainly push the limit of my working definition of contemporary classical music as recent compositions (i.e. not more than five years old) by living composers but since new works are often performed with ‘modern classics’, it’s important to cover concerts like this one in the contemporary classical survey. Furthermore, this survey offers the opportunity to investigate how an audience most probably drawn to the event by an interest in Arvo Pärt reacts to the new pieces by Krigul and Hirsch and to the stylistically contrasting folklore-inspired works by Tormis. As with the IEMA survey in November, an introductory event on the music of Arvo Pärt before the concert may also have impacted the audience experience.


An audience survey in a multilingual setting such as Flagey does provide some particular challenges:deciding to produce only English questionnaires (and not French/Dutch options) certainly simplified the distribution but may have affected some audience members’ ability to participate. Thanks go to the Flagey organisers for helping to answer queries about the survey!



Gina Emerson



organized in partnership with Flagey - BE

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