© Stephan Polzer

Enroled at the mdw since: October 2015

Area(s) of study: Preparatory Programme in Music Education – Voice; Voice (BA)

Favourite place at the mdw: the cherry tree at the mdw’s Penzing location

Favourite place in Vienna: the Stadtpark

What I wish I’d known back when I began my studies: Just how diverse the possibilities and offerings outside of my own programme are at this university.

When I sing… I can give myself over completely to the music.

One question/topic I think about a lot is… how to reach out and touch a concert audience by way of authenticity and truly personal emotionality.

© Stephan Polzer

How important is it to you to reach new audiences with your art?

Benjamin Harasko (BH): Extremely important, because art shouldn’t just sit back and relax in its ivory tower. It should be open and accessible to all social groups, enriching all of our lives.

How do you think this can succeed?

BH: To accomplish this, we need as many low-threshold points of contact as possible plus motivating and inspiring people who can be positive multipliers in everyday life. Be it in music class at schools, in clubs and associations, or in (church) congregations—enthusiasm and passion are infectious, no matter where you are or who it is. But above all, there should be opportunities for people to themselves actively make music together, sing, and just experience the fascinating world of music as often and in as many ways as possible: all that is infectious, too, and it’s essential when it comes to generating interest and understanding with regard to what we do. Another thing that plays an important role here, by the way, is the ability to afford it financially.

© Stephan Polzer

Have you ever been involved in any community outreach projects yourself? And if so, how have they been for you?

BH: Since the pandemic began, my work has shifted all the more strongly in this direction—be it performing music one to a part at church services (which have been permitted during some of the lockdown phases) or things like the open online ensemble singing sessions of the Lower Austria’s Vokalakademie NÖ. Contact and exchange with audiences and/or participants is something I also find to be very important and enriching. And in programming Lied recitals, I tried to tell a coherent overarching story while exploring and conveying the musicological background. That often helps render the emotional content of the repertoire I’m singing even more three-dimensional and graspable.

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