29 September 2020 - De Studio

Initiators: Maria & Styliani Markatatou 

The language of art ignores orders, rules, and barriers. Through a work of art, people of different political, social, and economic backgrounds can communicate, and this communication is multifaceted and meaningful. Within art, there is a polyphony of messages, a pluralism of ideas. But how does polyphony manifest itself in a concrete way within the field of performing arts? Indeed, the term polyphony can be understood and translated differently depending on the aspect we consider. To demonstrate, a cross-cultural study, an interdisciplinary project, a multicultural Arts institution, are some obvious examples of polyphony in the field of performing arts. Besides, we could examine aspects of interculturalism and multiculturalism. Awareness of diversity in the context of a modern multicultural society is directly linked to the concepts of multiculturalism and coherent diversity, but also to interculturalism, which concerns the communication between, and mutual understanding and influence of (sub)cultures.

In the political-economic field, many studies are being conducted on different cultures. Also, the customs and traditions of different peoples are being studied. Those investigations have helped markets, well-targeted business movements, and the learning of different models of economic management. The need to carry out these researches arose from the mobility of peoples, globalization, and migration. Correspondingly, in the field of art there is a need for further exploration and deepening of our knowledge relating to the integration of concepts such as polyphony, interdisciplinarity, multiculturalism, and interculturalism, in research and education. Aims can be to enrich knowledge, enhance perception, and increase creativity. But what are the expectations of using polyphony as a challenge to the artistic canon? By discovering and incorporating other cultural content into research and education, we can have a configuration example of the current European "canon" allowing other voices to be heard. That gives new impetus and excites curiosity and imagination, resulting in not only becoming more creative but also more receptive.

As an example, let us look at the expected benefits that a musician/student/artist/researcher can experience by participating in an intercultural and polyphonic research such as The four traditions of mandolin music in Greece that is conducted at the University of Antwerp and AP University College. Firstly, they come in contact with Greek culture through the musical traditions of the mandolin. This presupposes an acquaintance with the Greek modes (dromoi/ways), diverse rhythms or rhythmical patterns, techniques of improvisation in modal music, as well as elements from the Gregorian music. Besides, this research allows the participants to experiment in unfamiliar, for them new playing and improvisation techniques. This can enrich their performance skills, inspire researchers, and develop a diversity of knowledge and practice. This way of working can be extrapolated to other disciplines. For instance, a range of theatrical works from the “Western” (European and non-European) repertoire has been examined, processed, and presented. But what knowledge, diversity, and polyphony can other, unstudied cultures offer?

The term polyphony has many dimensions. This ARIA seminar aims to explore the concept in a mainly metaphorical sense (as related to democracy, decolonization, diversity, inclusion, cosmopolitism, interculturality, multilingualism, etc.), critically examining and challenging the canon as it is known.

This seminar is part of the yearly UPday organised by the research group 'Performance Practice in Perspective' at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp.


  • 16:00 - 16:10  Maria & Elina Markatatou : Introduction
  • 16:10 - 16:50  Ross Daly: “An acquaintance with the many “faces” of modality.”
  • 16:50 - 17:30  Ine Vanoeveren: “Diversity in present-day creation: The need for accessible methodologies in higher arts education”
  • 17:30 - 17:45  Ahilan Ratnamohan: The Performativitiy of Language Learning
  • 17:45 - 18:00  Bea Laborda, Barbara Bergillos and Lidia Sierra: insights - opinions from alumni students
  • 18:00 - 18:30  Impro workshop: “mixing sounds” (Maria & Elina Markatatou, Bea Laborda, Lidia Sierra, Barbara Bergillos)


De Studio, Maarschalk Gerardstraat 4, 2000 Antwerpen, 16:00 - 18:30 


Please register before 23 September on https://forms.gle/BKLwukUR5JbsU4Kj6
The number of places is limited to 30.

(home page image: Polyphony by Paul Klee)