The Intimate Lives of a Music Institution: The Catalonia College of Music
My doctoral research examines the institutional spaces, practices and affective communities of music education in 21st century Barcelona. Through ethnographic and archival work at the ESMUC (Catalonia College of Music) and other educational institutions, my research interrogates how academic programmes have shaped the activity of musical and political communities in Spain and Catalonia during the last two decades. For many administrators, teachers, students, and alumni, the ESMUC embodies a challenge to the (Spanish) state conservatory cultural system, and an alternative, more democratic and open way of teaching music in higher education. Because of the centrality of hybridity to the identity of the College, I frame this study across genres and departments, trying to understand how genre and hierarchy (and their denial) are reproduced and challenged in the classroom, the institution, and the wider society. By adopting a sensory ethnographic approach, I interrogate traditional modes of transmission of musical knowledge, and propose a broader and affectively attuned way to study music learning; one that considers emotions, performative gestures, sensibilities of time and place, and other aspects that often “go without saying” in higher music education.