How We Listen: Argeo Ascani

By Sound American

September 17, 2015

Argeo Ascani has to be clear and concise. His position demands it. As Music Curator for Troy, New York’s Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (EMPAC), the way in which he experiences music must lean toward the efficient and the critical. He represents the model of the working listener: a person who must absorb music with a number of prescribed, often non-musical, considerations in mind.

None of these extra-musical parameters affect the working listener’s love of music, however. It is because they have a talent and a passion for the presentation of work, either their own or that of others, that they are able to maintain a focus on the pragmatic aspects of their job while allowing themselves to remain moved by what they’re hearing.

In Argeo’s case, his thinking must be geared toward the construction of a cogent and sustainable musical program for one of the largest and most technically advanced performing arts centers in America. He needs to consider the work of each artist and how it fits, or doesn’t fit, into a grand scheme of sound and lighting considerations, residency benefits, and the simple ratio of butts to seats.
But, Argeo shows a love and care with the music that makes him the perfect example of the working listener. Take, for example, the considered approach that Argeo applies to Kara-Lis Coverdale and Mick Barr’s Orthrelm. His comments are concise, but illustrate his deep immersion in the recording at hand, as well as the broader concepts and aesthetic movements surrounding the artist. He lists his levels of engagement at 10 and 9.5 respectively, and there is nothing in his short but potent insights that would make those numbers feel inflated. It is a very special and focused kind of energy that he brings to this experiment and the working listener brings to his daily music time.

Read the full interview here.