Frontpage > Courses > Curating Diversity Course with Julia Gerlach, Vidgis Jakobsdottir, Tarek Atoui, and Du Yun

Curating Diversity Course with Julia Gerlach, Vidgis Jakobsdottir, Tarek Atoui, and Du Yun

Dates: 29th of June – 5th of July   
Arrival date: 28th  of June
Departure date: 6th of July

What does curating music mean in the world that we live in today? Does a curator – that can today imply in the field of music an artistic director, performer, composer, collective, programmer or producer – have a social role to play? What makes a work or performance connect with audiences today, and how are we producers and facilitators sensitive to the ambitions of creators? How can we rethink music presentation to better reflect and resonate with different societies and communities of today? Is the modern curator obliged to take on social responsibility? What are the curatorial concepts and methodologies used in other art fields that the musical world could learn from?

Curatorship and curationism have become important buzzwords in the art world and world at large during the last decades. The classical and new music field, the ensembles and festivals involved are, too, moving towards more hybrid, collaborative projects and processes that involve other art forms that ask for new methodologies. Currently there are few educational programmes where to learn and discuss these questions in the music world, so emerging music curators and programmers must learn their trade as best they can through internships or by trial and error.

Fee: Course fee for active participants is 280 €. The fee includes participation in the course, open lessons and workshops, and free entrance to all of the festival concerts.

The teachers and mentors for the course are:

Julia Gerlach , Secretary of Music Section, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany

A curator and producer of contemporary music and sound art, Julia Gerlach studied musicology in Berlin and Paris (with Prof. Dr. Helga de la Motte, and others). Until 2009, she freelanced in Berlin (Berliner Gesellschaft für neue Musik, KlangQuadrat. Büro für Klang- und Medienkunst, management of the Maulwerker), and was a scholarship holder of the Mariann Steegmann Foundation, with a research focus on body, music, and gender. From 2009 to 2012, she was project coordinator and curator at the ZKM I Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe. Consequently, she headed the Music division of the Artists-in-Berlin Program of the DAAD from 2012 to 2018. Currently she is the secretary of the Music Section of Akademie der Künste in Berlin. Her curatorial practice includes concerts and sound installations in public space, interdisciplinary formats between music, visual arts, dance, literature, improvisation, transcultural projects and festivals. (f.e. “Sound Art. Sound as Medium of art” 2012/ZKM, Festival mikromusik 2013-2018/DAAD, German-Brazilian project “Re-inventing Smetak” 2017/DAAD) Currently she is curating the festival “Memories in Music” at Akademie der Künste, reflecting on Europe’s attitude to postcolonialism, indigenous cultures, and the Arab Mediterranean region. It is her interest to challenge the notion of contemporary music and curation within the structure of the Akademie der Künste.


Julia Gerlach is an author and editor of catalogues, CDs, and professional articles, and is a member of the advisory committee of the Beethoven Jubiläums Gesellschaft mbH and the Stiftung Brandenburger Tor.

Vigdis Jakobsdottir , Artistic Director and CEO Reykjavik Arts Festival – Iceland

Vigdis is an experienced theatre director, workshop facilitator and lecturer, both in her home country Iceland, and globally. She has directed performances at the National Theatre of Iceland and with numerous independent theatre companies. She was Head of Education at the National Theatre of Iceland from 2002-2011 and adjunct and later programme director for MA studies in Theatre Education at Iceland University of the Arts from 2002-2016. She is the founder of Þjóðleikur – The National Youth Theatre festival in Iceland which she led from 2008-2017. Vigdis was elected on the executive committee of ASSITEJ (International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People) in 2011 and was vice president of the association from 2014-2017. She was chairperson of ASSITEJ Iceland for many years and artistic director of UNGI, an international performing arts festival for young audiences in Reykjavík, from 2013-2016. She holds a BA honours degree in Drama and Theatre Studies from the University of Kent (UK) and a Post. Grad. diploma in Teaching Studies for Higher Education from the University of Iceland.

Tarek Atoui

Tarek Atoui is an artist and composer, working within the realm of sound. His work often revolves around performances that develop from extensive research into music history and tradition, and explores new methods of collaboration and production. At the core of his work is an ongoing reflection on the notion of instrument and how it overlaps with the acts of composing and performing. Atoui’s use of sound challenges and expands our established ways of understanding and experiencing this medium.


His project WITHIN, for instance, departs from Deaf Culture to find new ideas for building instruments, composing and performing. On The Reverse Collection, instruments of unknown age and origin in an anthropology museum, get played and recorded then a new collection of instruments are created from exclusively listening to these recordings.


Atoui has presented his work internationally at the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates (2009 and 2013); dOCUMENTA 13 in Kassel, Germany (2012); the 8th Berlin Biennial (2014); Tate Modern, London (2016); CCA NTU, Singapore (2017); Garage Moscow (2018); the 58th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia (2019) and at the Okayama Art Summit 2019. He was appointed co-artistic director of STEIM studios in 2007, and of the Bergen Assembly, a triennial for contemporary art in Norway in 2016.
Tarek Atoui is born in Lebanon, and currently lives and works in Paris, France.

Du Yun

Pulitzer Prize-winner Du Yun, born and raised in Shanghai, China and currently based in New York City, is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, performance artist, activist, and curator for new music, who works at the intersection of orchestral, opera, chamber music, theatre, cabaret, musical theater, oral tradition, public performances, sound installation, electronics, visual arts, and noise.


Known for her “relentless originality and unflinching social conscience” (The New Yorker), Du Yun’s second opera, Angel’s Bone, won a Pulitzer Prize for music in 2017; in 2018 she was named a Guggenheim Fellow; and in 2019 she was nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Classical Composition.


An avid performer, she has appeared in many assorted holes and halls, sites and museums. Her onstage persona has been described by the New York Times as “an indie pop diva with an avant-garde edge.” As a performance artist, engagements include the 2018 Lahore Biennial (Pakistan), the 2012 Guangzhou Art Triennial (Guangzhou Opera House, China), the National Academy Museum (USA), the inaugural Shanghai Project (China), and Contemporary Arts Center Córdoba (Spain). Her ongoing collaborations with Pakistani-American visual artist Shahzia Sikander have shown around the world, including the Popular Award at the Karachi Biennial, and are permanent collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.


As a curator and activist for new music and art, she was a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE); served as the Artistic Director of MATA Festival (2014-2018); conceived the Pan Asia Sounding Festival and founded an ongoing multi-year FutureTradition Initiative in China where she works with folk musicians from around the world in order to champion more cross-regional collaborations. Future curatorial engagements include the Göteborg Art Sounds Festival (Sweden, Oct 2020), the centennial edition at the Donaueschingen Festival (Germany, Oct 2021), and a forthcoming article in OnCurating, edited by Rob Young.

All four mentors will be present each a few days during the course to interact and mentor students, in addition to this Christos Carras, director of Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens and Johan Tallgren, Artistic Director of Time of Music will participate in some discussions, additional visiting lecturers will be announced when the festival programme is published in May.


The four mentors and visiting teachers will give presentations on their own work and roles, discuss different curatorial methodologies and lead workshops that target questions and challenges involved with programming and building projects for different institutions and audiences.

The course will include workshops, lectures, dialogues, debates and panels addressing first and foremost the artistic aspects and good practices on curating music and sound art of today. Discussions in class will cover topics as; historical background, challenges of public and private space, collaborative and participatory strategies , working with archives, challenges of modern identity-politics and personification , curatorship as activism, curating social change, diversity, gender and inclusivity to name a few. The students of the course will have a public discussion & presentation on the last day of the festival. The course will focus more on ethical and positional questions than the purely technical (fundraising and production) ones.

Applying students should have some experience and traceable history on own work that links to curatorship. They should be prepared to present own work and discuss / share challenges they have experienced themselves in class . They should equally in the letter of interest lift up questions that they would want that would be discussed in class.

The “Curating Diversity” course is part of the Creative Europe funded network Sounds Now (http://sounds-now.eu) of which Time of Music is the Finnish partner.

Sign up for the course here: Registration for Time of Music Summer Academy 2020.

Julia Gerlach
Julia Gerlach
Du Yun
Du Yun
Vigdis Jakobsdottir
Vigdis Jakobsdottir

Tarek Atoui
Tarek Atoui