‘Audience Orchestra’ is an interactive experiment developed by the contemporary Estonian musical group Ensemble U:. The listeners of the event gain unusual power—they control how the concert develops, what music is played, and provide instant feedback. In some sections they can play along with the performers and are turned into a kind of orchestra. But, unlike a normal orchestra that is based in strict hierarchies and rules, the audience orchestra acts on the basis of democracy where everyone has a vote and decisions are made by majority.
The main goal of this singular experiment is to investigate and explore the idea of “democracy in making music”. What does the public really want and expect? Are they happy if it is finally the “public voice” that controls the concert? Audience members can participate using a smart-phone, tablet, or laptop.
About Ensemble U:
Ensemble U: is currently the most active and renowned contemporary music ensemble in Estonia. It has gained recognition for its ability to perform even the most demanding works without a conductor, openness for bold experimental ideas, and sensitivity for sound. Ensemble U: has performed in important international festivals like Time of Music (Viitasaari, Finland), GAIDA (Vilnius, Lithuania), Sounds New (Canterbury, UK), Nordic Music Days (Helsinki, Finland), Nuova Consonanza (Rome, Italy), Third Practice (Richmond, USA) in Biennale di Musica Venezia (Italy).
In 2009, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia bestowed upon Ensemble U: the annual award for their engagement in Estonian contemporary music, and in 2016, U: was honored with the same prize for its remarkable programs of new music. The ensemble performs the masterworks of modern composers as well as experimental compositions. Its repertoire includes composers from Estonia and abroad and the ensemble values the opportunity to continuously commission new music to be written for them. In April 2009 Ensemble U: released their first album, U:, consisting of works by Estonian composers dedicated to U: between 2004 and 2009. In 2013-14 Ensemble U: celebrated its tenth anniversary and started a lecture and concert series titled URR – 10 years of resistance.