Composer and violinist Justin Grounds set up ‘Stop Look Listen’, a weekly outdoor listening event, in September last year as part of the West Cork ‘Rekindling the Light Within’ initiative, which has enabled eight artists across the region to develop art for mental health initiatives in different ways. Justin wanted to create a free and inclusive weekly event in Clonakilty that people could come and go from; a simple outdoor gathering with a weekly playlist of three pieces of music to listen to collectively.
“I have been involved with many participatory music projects over the last years, and I am very passionate about creating musical experiences for people to take part in, as well as teaching people to make their own music. However, this time, I wanted to run an event that focuses on listening – a somewhat overlooked and yet hugely important element of music!
“In today’s world we may feel overloaded with music – played to us as we go shopping, sit in waiting rooms, travel on the bus – it can feel as if we need to slow everything down and create a space to actively listen, to relax and let the music wash over us in a deeper way. And the silence between the pieces is important too. That’s always been my experience performing and attending concerts, there is a magical quality to the silence when the audience are all actively part of it. With today’s endless Spotify playlists, and radio’s fear of ‘dead air’, we are losing this beautiful shared silence that can be so enriching.”
Justin bought a portable hi-fi sound system and hand-sewed a banner to hang up in various outdoor spaces around Clonakilty each Sunday. He spent each week curating a new collection of music to listen to – pieces from many different composers and genres that fit together well – along with a few words to share on the origin stories of the pieces and how they share common themes. Eventually the bandstand in Bennett’s Field became the regular venue with different people gathering each week, bringing coffee, blankets, pets and open ears. “It became a place to quietly connect with oneself, other listeners and the soul-enriching music,” Justin says. “Conversations always followed naturally, the music and the silence unlocking stories and experiences that people shared generously.”
After a brief hiatus for winter weather Stop Look Listen will be starting back again on March 5 at 11am in the bandstand in Bennett’s Field, the new park just off Western Road in Clonakilty. All are welcome. Visit www.justingrounds.com/stoplooklisten to view all the previous music, and for updates on future times and dates.