The Look + Listen Festival broadens and captivates audiences for contemporary music by presenting diverse and inclusive world-class programming in refreshingly intimate visual art spaces.
Look + Listen’s core activity is its annual spring Festival. The Festival showcases the range of 20th and 21st Century music, performed by the finest established and emerging artists.
Concerts take place in contemporary art spaces. The music and art experience enhance each other by providing a stimulating visual environment for new music and a vibrant aural context for visual art, allowing audiences to draw their own conclusions and connections.
Integral to the welcoming and intimate nature of the Festival are the concert hosts and mid-concert interviews.
Look + Listen champions contemporary composers by commissioning new works that premiere at the Festival and by running composer competitions, providing the winning composer both a cash prize and a live performance.
The Festival provides concerts free-of-charge to ensure that all audience members feel welcome. It also invests in recording the concerts each year and makes them available via streaming services to continue to share the aural experience beyond the live events.
The Look + Listen Composers Collective provides programming guidance and creates ambient music for Festival concerts. Members of the Collective also participate in adjudication of the Composers Competition.
Founded in 2002 by David Gordon, he was inspired to create the Look and Listen Festival while attending a concert by Joan Tower at the DIA Center. Fascinated by the intimacy of the space and how prolonged viewing of the visual works enhanced and deepened the concert experience, he decided to produce the first edition of Look and Listen at ACE Gallery with fellow composer, Sean Carson. Since then, the festival has presented extraordinary musicians such as the Bang on a Can All Stars, eighth blackbird, JACK Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Phyllis Chen, Claire Chase, So Percussion, Meredith Monk, and the Tyshawn Sorey Trio. Concerts have taken place at BRIC House, Chelsea Art Museum, Pratt Manhattan Gallery, Robert Miller Gallery, and most recently at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
The Look + Listen Festival has received praise from The New York Times calling it a “winning formula”. WNYC’s John Schaefer, said, “The Look + Listen Festival stands out, even in a very crowded field, as a genuinely innovative series.” Time Out New York declared, “among the most appealing choices season after season is the short, but eventful Look + Listen Festival… a diverse range of new works are served up in the intimate settings of local modern art galleries.” The Festival has also been applauded in The New Yorker, Sequenza 21, and Seen and Heard International, I Care If You Listen and The Rest Is Noise by music critic Alex Ross.