Many music outreach initiatives are emerging in community, penal, health, social work, and education circles. Additionally, arts and culture institutions are, on one hand, taking note of issues of physical and symbolic accessibility and, on the other hand, emphasizing the benefits of music practices in terms of social justice, inclusion, social responsibility, etc. (Beauchemin, Maignien, and Duguay 2020). In the Francophone world and some Spanish-speaking countries, what is known as music “mediation” (FR: “médiation”; SP: “médiación”) tends to bring together activities that range from public or “applied” musicology to musical activities in the community, including arts and culture education (Kirchberg 2020). The plurality of terms used in German (Musik vermittlung, Kulturelle Bildung, Musikpädagogik) or in English (music outreach, music engagement, civic practices, public musicology, music in social work, music education) to translate the French expression “médiation de la musique” is a constant reminder of the multitude of issues at stake with these music and social practices at the crossroads of democratization and cultural democracy.

Far from the unifying goals these practices strive for, the plurality of designations around which research groups and professional networks (ITAC, RESEO, SIMM, EPMM, FNAMI, Artist as changemaker) congregate may result in fostering silo-thinking that immobilizes practice and research. The dispersion of these forces accentuates the fault lines that on-the-ground practice is working to move beyond (teaching artists vs mediators, researchers vs practitioners, education vs social action, popularization vs participation). Pondering issues of popularization, awareness, experimentation, transmission, accessibility, social inclusion, wellness, health, equity, empowerment and/or cultural rights that are at the heart of these music practices calls for a pooling of practice and theory resources. The goal of this international conference is to take a comprehensive look at music mediation in its plurality, from conception phases to implementation to evaluation.

This international forum aims to propose a transnational overview of the current state of research on music mediation and to share the various outlooks on these practices.

In addition to its theoretical impact that aims to systematize the observations, this forum will offer multiple opportunities for meetings between practitioners and for networking between practice and research communities. This will be as much about highlighting the professional knowledge of actors in the chain of mediation professions (Pébrier, Courant, 2019; Bretel, and Mercier 2018) as about giving visibility to the most recent research findings in the field (Kirchberg 2021).


Scholarly talks, poster sessions, workshops, experience sharing, or communities of practice can focus on the following themes:

1.      Limits and porosity of terminology

As the field evolves, it becomes necessary to reflect on the subtleties of the vocabulary used in the music domain to qualify these various levels of activity ranging from outreach through art (Loser 2017; Lebon 2013a; Sociographe 2018/3), to supporting its interpretation, to creating new art forms. What are the issues at stake for each of these practices? What attitudes do they lead to in those who implement them individually and collectively (Lebon 2013)? What specific skills do these each of these practitioners galvanize when carrying out their activities? What relation to musical and musicological knowledge do they expect? What discursive elements accompany these activities, whether it be qualifying their use (audiences, residents, community members, clientele, participants, beneficiaries, individuals) or describing the methods of implementation (collaboration, co-creation, participation, interpretation, contribution, etc.)?

2.       Historical conditions in the emergence of music mediation

The international forum is an invitation to analyze the history of individual and collective variables that underlie the development, funding, or promotion of these activities and often serve as a framework for the unfolding of a legitimizing discourse (Bowman et al. 2016). What logic motivated the passage from commented concerts promoted by the first musicographers (Campos 2013), to program notes in the concert hall then virtual (Bernard 2019), to the establishment of pre-concert workshops, participatory concerts, school orchestras (Delebarre and Laborde 2019); Lauret 2019), to music co-creation projects or community participation? While reflection on the conditions for the emergence of discourse at the crossroads of democratization, democracy, and cultural rights is well underway in the cultural field (Mörsch 2017; Bordeaux 2008; Lafortune 2012), work of a historical nature remains to be done on the emergence of practices in popularization and social transformation through music, to unearth and document long-standing endeavours implemented by artists or activist collectives or ensembles. If work on cultural mediation has effectively shown what the development of these practices owes to national and transnational cultural policies (Bordeaux 2008; Lafortune 2013; 2018), where do things stand in music? How do these actions fit into public education programs (Lebon 2020), cultural rights, or Agenda 21 for culture (Meyer-Bisch 2018)?

3.      Dispositif analysis

There is a great deal of discourse that too easily evokes music repertoires on the level of aesthetic shock or its transformational power. The matter, however, is one of practical contemplation of the conditions in which music is offered for listening, discussing, or playing within these acts of mediation. Rather pragmatically, which musical “takes” (Bessy and Chateauraynaud 1995; Hennion et al 2000) or perception frameworks (—-) are mobilized to listen together, experience practices, and foster critical discussions? Metaphors, humour, sarcasm, hyperbole: what are the rhetorical devices used by mediators to put music into words? What types of discourse are used (storytelling, intrigue, exposition, etc.) and to what effect?

At the culmination of which processes, collaborations, or partnerships do music repertoires become leverage for social integration or intercultural dialogue? When it comes to demystifying music, how are the relationships between knowledge, feeling, emotion, participation, and critique articulated across the range of written, spoken, visual, audio, digital, and instrumental supports? When music is relied on to support the treatment of social issues (Lafargue 2008), which historical, political, geographical points of reference are mobilized? Which musical and/or social bodies of knowledge, know-how, and interpersonal skills do these dispositifs tend toward and how do participants transfer them effectively beyond the structure of these activities? What are the presumed skills (Wahnich 2014)?

4.      The effects of these activities and the challenges of evaluating them

With granting agencies, sponsors, and partners requiring activity reports, many guides have been produced in recent years to go along with evaluating these activities (Guetzkow 2002; Pronovost and Harrison-Boisvert 2015), and they call for better integration of evaluation practices. This forum ought to make it possible to present evaluation results of these activities that are designed as interfaces between works and audiences and/or that foster various forms of expression and participation in cultural life. Many works have demonstrated the impact of arts and culture on mental health, rights development, etc. What is happening specifically with activities run in music worlds? What are the effects of music mediation dispositifs on accessibility, wellness, mental health, social inclusion, active citizenship, etc.? This conference ought also to provide the opportunity to reflect on the methodological challenges of evaluating these activities that can often be distinguished by their fluctuating and unpredictable natures, and that rarely unfold in a linear manner. How do we establish evaluation that is “ongoing, participatory, and recurrent” (Pébrier 2020)? Can the methods of “action research” (Lassus, Le Piouff, and Sbbatella 2015), “research-creation”, or “participatory research” support mediation’s intentions by making room for participants (artists, community members, coordinators, etc.) in its evaluation and by pluralizing the viewpoints on its effects? As a researcher, which neutral or subjective stance should be adopted?

5.      Music mediation training and professional practice

As training programs in cultural mediation develop or gain traction in music education institutions, what do we know about the content of these programs (prerequisites, curriculum, outcomes) and the trajectories of their graduates? Performers, musicologists, composers, mediators, teaching artists, music specialists in schools, artivists: who is drawn to undertaking music mediation activities? Is it possible to identify distinct “mediator profiles” within the chain of professions that make possible music popularization and activity facilitation (Aubouin, Kletz, and Lenay 2010; Montoya 2008). What socialization led to their involvement in these activities or to their belief in the “final victory of the cause” (Prévost-Thomas, Vessely 2016; Montoya 2017)? What role do these activities play in their professional practice? While often included in pluriactivity regimens (Perrenoud and Bataille 2018), how do these actors link together these various dimensions of their lives as musicians. Are they a testament to the tendency toward self-entrepreneurialism of the profession and of the regimen of “multiplication of the self” of today’s arts careers (Menger 2002)? In short, what does the emergence of these roles as music mediators tell us about the evolution of the music profession?

6.       A critical look at the effectiveness of action taken

Do these dispositifs effectively make “works accessible to the most people in terms of geographic, social, and economic considerations” (Caillet 1995)? Keeping in mind the criticism levied at the first attempts at musicological popularization of which some detractors, starting in 1941, regretted the “thoughtless and pseudo-technical proselytizing” (Thomson in Bennett p.100), this conference is an invitation to develop a critical reflection on music mediation activities and be part of the constructive reflections already initiated in the broader field of cultural mediation (Casemajor et al. 2017). There are those who are concerned about the growing institutionalization of practices initially drawn from community art (Ardenne 2009; Chagnon and Neumarrk 2011), public education (Lepage 2009), or activity facilitation (Bordeau in Casemajor et al. 2017). How can the ethics associated with these practices (Caune 1999; Médiation culturelle association 2010) be reconciled with the logic of commercialization, box office, or audience development that sometimes goes along with them? To borrow Jean-Marie Lafortune’s turn of phrase, can these musical activities exist “under the yoke of neoliberalism” (Lafortune in Paquin et al. 2019)?

Don’t the informal teaching methods often favoured in mediation reproduce the fractures they seek to lessen (Mörsch 2017; Bois 2013; Oualhaci, Hammou, et Zotian 2020)? Do these activities truly make it possible to instigate distancing from the norm or are they sites for latent reproductions of listening and practice categories (Eloy 2015) or of stereotypes of gender (Chagnard in Octobre and Patureau 2018; Kirchberg accepted, forthcoming), race, etc.? In continuing the reflection initiated by Jesu and Nazareth, the economics of symbolic capital that are at play in these activities can also be questioned (Jesu and Nazareth 2016). In short, how do so-called “illegitimate” practices become mobilized to empower the participants? How are these practices converted within the space of activist musical practices in fields that lead to collective and individual recognition?

Types of Proposals

Practitioners and researchers are invited to present their research initiatives or findings, to lead substantive group reflections or debates that allow for shaping a shared vision of the future of research and of practices of cultural mediation using music, and measuring the impact. Many presentation formats are possible.

The conference languages are English and French (the language used in the proposal must be the language of presentation).

·         Papers (20 min. presentation + 10 min. questions)

Presentation of research findings in musicology, sociology, anthropology, education, psychology, political science, etc. on one of the proposed themes.

Papers will be published, either in a journal issue or in a collection.

·         Posters

Presentation of research findings in musicology, sociology, anthropology, education, psychology, political science, etc. on one of the proposed themes.

Posters (format A0) will be up during the conference and a digital version will be featured on the conference website.

·         Workshops (45 min. activity facilitation + 15 min. discussion led by the workshop facilitator)

Facilitation of a mediation activity that allows collective experimentation of an approach, a music mediation dispositif (co-creation workshop, creative writing workshop, etc.) and full assessment of its impact through collective reflective feedback. Workshops will be filmed and featured on the conference website.

Keynote speakers

Marie Christine Bordeaux (Université Grenoble Alpes)

Sean Gregory (Barbican Centre & Guildhall School of Music & Drama)

William Robin (University of Maryland)


Organizing Committee

  • Vincent Bouchard Valentine (EPMM / UQAM)
  • Michel Duchesneau (EPMM – UdeM)
  • Irina Kirchberg (EPMM – UdeM)
  • Sylvain Martet (EPMM – ARTENSO)
  • Mélanie Moura (EPMM – Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal)
  • Eva Quintas (EPMM – ARTENSO)
  • Pierre Vachon (EPMM – Opéra de Montréal)

Advisory Panel

  • Bouchard Valentine Vincent (UQAM)
  • Bouscant Liouba (CNSMDP)
  • Duchesneau Michel (UdeM)
  • Fortant Elsa (MeMuQ)
  • Güsewell Angelika (HEMU Lausanne)
  • Gregory Sean (Barbican & Guildhall School)
  • Horvais Jean (UQAM)
  • Kirchberg Irina (UdeM)
  • Martet Sylvain (ARTENSO)
  • Moura Mélanie (Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal)
  • Prévost Thomas Cécile (Sorbonne Nouvelle)
  • Ravet Hyacinthe (IReMus – Sorbonne Université)
  • Rudent Catherine (Sorbonne Nouvelle)
  • Robin William (University of Maryland)
  • Ronzier Isabelle (Orchestre régional Avignon Provence)
  • Vachon Pierre (Opéra de Montréal)
  • Weber Thierry (HEMU Lausanne)


Emilie Lesage, Coordinator, EPMM

Caroline Marcoux-Gendron, Scientific and General Coordinator, OICRM.

Marilou Bonfils Nadeau, Assistant-Coordinator, OICRM.

Mathilde Veilleux, Assistant-Coordinator, OICRM.

To contact us