DR EVIS Sammoutis, associate professor of music composition and director of electronic music studios at Ithaca College, NY and external research associate at European University Cyprus explains how an innovative EU project brought contemporary music to Cypriot audiences
You are based in New York. How are you connected to European University Cyprus?
I have been based in upstate New York since 2016, but before my move to Ithaca, I was on the faculty at European University Cyprus for almost a decade, and this is the second EU-funded project I am coordinating there. I have a really strong connection to the university and its people.
How did EUC’s involvement in the Interfaces project come about?
The leading partner is the Onassis Cultural Centre. In 2015, several key partners met in Athens to discuss how an application to the Creative Europe Programme could be prepared and to subsequently agree on the framework of the cooperation. It was at that point that the Interfaces network idea was born, thanks to the leadership and vision of the Onassis Cultural Centre.
What was the purpose and scope of the collaborations?
Interfaces is an international, interdisciplinary project focused on creating new models and practices for audience development in contemporary music in Europe.
It aims to inspire more people of all ages and demographics to experience contemporary music and sound art and learn to incorporate Europe’s musical legacy into newly found idioms and contexts.
Thanks to the generous support of the Creative Europe Programme, Interfaces has united nine diverse partners from eight European countries, including the Onassis Cultural Centre (Greece), De Montfort University (UK), European University Cyprus (Cyprus), Klangforum Wien (Austria), IRCAM (France), ZKM | Centre for Art and Media (Germany), CREMAC (Romania), Q-02 (Belgium) and ICTUS (Belgium).
Have you reached new audiences?
We have indeed reached new audiences and demographics, introducing contemporary music in a non-intimidating manner to new and unexpected sectors of the public through a series of acoustic interventions, installations and educational activities.
As a university, we are focused on education as the means of cultivating an appreciation for modern music and working with children.
We helped create a new repertoire suitable for young performers, we held workshops on interactive technology, and we commissioned a new App entitled UPISketch, where children can compose music and create musical gestures intuitively through drawing, among many other activities.
We produced over 50 events in Cyprus over the four-year duration of the programme (2016-2020).
What was has been the most satisfying part of the project?
The most satisfying aspect of this project was to see children smile and be engaged with our activities. Experiencing their enthusiasm and amazement and hearing people from marginalised communities thanking us for taking several artistic actions directly to them and for including them in our programme was fulfilling both on a professional and human level.
There was also substantial value for European University Cyprus. This was the first major Creative Europe project to be coordinated in Cyprus, and it was crucial for our organisation to participate successfully. It has also helped shed more light on the great work taking place at the Department of Arts at European University Cyprus.
The arts are an important component to a well-rounded education, and I am grateful to the university’s administration for continuing to support the arts, especially during such difficult times. The Music Department at EUC is one of the few music programmes on the island and one that has truly international scope and orientation.
What are your own next steps artistically?
The arrival of Covid-19 has compromised several artistic activities worldwide, and music was no exception.
As an artist who relies heavily of transatlantic collaborations, travel restrictions are impacting my work as well. However, the continued lockdowns have given all of us the opportunity to reassess our own work, values and trajectory, and as a result, my next steps artistically will involve larger scale projects.
For more information, visit http://www.interfacesnetwork.eu