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Between in-person sessions in TIMARA's Multichannel studio and online sessions over Zoom during pre-vax Covid, I've held almost 140 listening sessions at Oberlin. These listening sessions began as an attempt to showcase the primarily contemporary classical work I was listening to that I saw as underrepresented at the conservatory. To this day, that music (think Lachenmann, Neuwirth, Cendo, etc.) makes up a core part of these sessions, but they've expanded to include a lot of other music as well.

In a way, the goals of the listening sessions are similar to what they were at the outset, to showcase underrepresented experimental music and to prioritize careful listening amidst all of the franticness of academic life. But after lots of research and listening, my listening practices have changed a lot. They've since grown into my way at showcasing a misunderstood avant-garde that, far from centered in European classical music is global, multiple, heterogeneous, and constantly mobilizing. It's in this lens that I think the best parts of the avant-garde can be understood. What amazes me every time I research for this project is how much music there is, and sadly, how few people are sometimes listening to it.

These sessions are not attempts at showcasing a cohesive block or tradition of music. If anything unifies my selections, it is a focus on a liberatory disregard for efficiency, purity, polish, and clarity, which I find as adamantly in Karlheinz Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel as I do in Ritesh Marajan and VAVABOND.

This project is my expressive work. It is not an attempt at drawing an elite circle around the music I find the most profound or interesting. I listen and love to a lot of music, and only will program specific works that I find suitable for it. Why? Because the crux of this project and its longevity depends on a more specific artistic mission. It is a creative, expressive ongoing project, rather than an attempt at holistically forging a master narrative or even plane for everything to be evaluated on. It is this quality that I think draws people back to the listening: the expectation that they will always be faced with something new and unfamiliar, which doesn't conform either to academic guidelines or commerical expectations.

I think there's something for everyone here, and I try to showcase that each session. If you love frenetic craziness you might love Masonna, Peter Brötzmann, Jeff Carey, Changhee Kim. If you have an ear for delicate sonic intricacy you might find yourself inclining towards bella, Luigi Nono, Sachiko M, Yan Jun. Experienced listeners and newcomers hopefully can find themselves on the same plane every once and a while. It's been a real thrill to watch these sessions grow from a circle of 3-4 people to a campus-wide weekly event that attracts new people every week.

A couple very generous friends who frequent the listenings gave me some very heartwarming testimonials which you can find on TIMARA's website (timara.oberlin.edu). I'll post them here too:

Josh Tazman Reiner: "The listening sessions have been one of the cornerstones of my musical education at Oberlin. In no other setting have I been exposed to so much great new music, so consistently, at such a wide range"

Hamish Robb: "Jack is so meticulous about what he picks and why. Often he scours the ends of the internet to find tracks, scores, and any info about the artists. It is always a great time, and it has been great for giving me a sense of community and friendship within experimental music"

Orson Abram: "Jack's listening sessions were pivotal to my growth as a musician and listener of music as a whole, especially in my first year of college. In a way, I felt a sense of belonging as these sessions also introduced me to others who are passionate about thinking deeply about avant-garde music. Finding these sessions are the unexpected but beloved surprise of my Oberlin career thus far"