Community News Magazine

Cultural and technical ‘firsts’ with LoLa and EaPConnect

Images: Kristi Mühling and Ibrahim Babayev perform the world premiere of ‘Mystic’ on the traditional Estonian kannel and the Azerbaijani tar. Paolo Girol at ‘Connecting Traditions’

A world premiere, a record-breaking distance, a high-level audience, and ‘firsts’ in three Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries – ‘LoLa’ concerts organised by the EU-funded EaPConnect project and its partners have achieved these cultural, creative and technical goals.

LoLa (low latency) technology, developed by the Italian NREN GARR in collaboration with Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Tartini, Trieste, was introduced to the EaP NRENs early in the EaPConnect project. Coupled with advanced R&E networks, LoLa allows geographically-distributed performing artists to work together in real time without significant distortion or delay.

This was really put to the test in September 2019, when top choirs in Yerevan, Armenia and Venice, Italy, sang together via a record-breaking 5000 km of networks that crossed 7 countries. This ‘Connecting with Culture’ concert used C17th musical techniques invented by Venetian composers for choirs singing across the large space within St. Mark’s Basilica, where sound is delayed by around 40 milliseconds – nearly identical to the network delay between Venice and Yerevan. The event forged a collaborative relationship between the
Italian and Armenian NRENs, GARR and ASNET-AM, the choirs and the music academy, and strengthened the connection between Armenia and the Armenian diaspora in Italy.

A world premiere of new music for traditional instruments was the heart of ‘Connecting Traditions’, the LoLa concert held in Baku, Azerbaijan and and new composition were organised by AzScienceNet in connection with the 2018 EaPConnect Enlighten Your Research (EYR) programme winner the MIRCO project. MIRCO intends to create an EaP LoLa user community and renew the heritage of national instruments. MIRCO project leader Paolo Girol (Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre) says that, by allowing musicians to give online masterclasses about their national instruments and to meet and practice together over the networks, MIRCO will help “meet important EU policies such as digitisation, preservation of heritage and digital mobility”.

The first EaPConnect LoLa concert, back in 2017, showed Ministers and Ambassadors from around Europe what LoLa and networks can do. For that ‘Music without Borders’ event, Estonian and Armenian musicians in Tallinn performed with Belarusian and Georgian artists located in Minsk, Belarus, with the support of the Belarusian, Georgian and Estonian NRENs, BASNET, GRENA and EENet of HITSA.

All these events were the first concerts of their kind in these countries, helping the NRENs and music academies involved to develop their international partnerships. There have also been musical masterclasses and LoLa workshops to develop the experience of technicians and performers, and EaPConnect partners’ participation in international events such as the Network Performing Arts Production Workshops and the 2018 Sound & Music Computing Conference.

With the Moldovan NREN RENAM set to acquire LoLa in the very near future, we can expect further musical adventures among the EaPConnect partners.

More information

EaPConnect website and project YouTube playlist.

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