Urban Heerlen Transformed through Improvised Music Exposure into a European Capital of Culture

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This thesis examines Heerlen's ambition to become the European Capital of Culture in 2033, with a focus on improvised music for young adults. Research addresses social-economic challenges among youth. Exploring the benefits of improvised music in a cultural context. This answers: “What role can improvised music play for the young adults in the municipality of Heerlen in the conquest of becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2033?”. This thesis does not provide conclusive solutions to Heerlen by becoming a European Capital of Culture due to its constrained focus. However, it tries to add to the conversation. A theoretical framework is created from literature, emphasizing the impact of culture and music on urban settings. This is used for interviews with experts of improvised music and education. Thereafter, a qualitative research approach derives insights on improvised music in Heerlen. The research aligns Heerlen's cultural aspirations with the ideals of a Capital of Culture. Proposing an interconnected music education system that cultivates a sense of belonging among European citizens. Despite challenges in determining implementation strategies, local musicians and educators show initiative in incorporating improvisation in their teaching. This thesis acknowledges the limited available data but suggests that conversations with experts and the comparison with literature lay the groundwork for change. The Capital of Culture seeks to underscore diversity intrinsic to the different cultural facets across the continent. This serves for the commemoration of shared cultural features that bind European communities together. Cultivating a sense of collective heritage and identity among its citizens.
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