The world’s biggest classical music meeting, Classical:NEXT, has opened its doors for its sixth edition. Four days of Expo, Conference and the new ‘Seriously – Adventures in Music’ Showcase Festival lie ahead for the expected 1,200 music professionals, who are coming to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, from all over the world and all branches of the classical and contemporary music scenes. Due to the continuing success of the meeting, with a growing expo and programme, organisers Piranha Arts and Rotterdam’s de Doelen Concert Hall and Congress Centre, have announced today that they will continue their cooperation for another three years.
The global meeting for all art music innovators Classical:NEXT started its sixth edition today with a break from tradition: for the first time, the Opening was not produced by a single country, but instead was based around the positive answers to the question ‘what’s the point?’. After a music theatre performance ‘Have a Good Day’ as part of associated event Operadagen Rotterdam, the celebratory Classical:NEXT Opening in de Doelen featured the mainland European premiere of the UK’s Chineke! Orchestra, and words from Chineke’s Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE and Afa S. Dworkin of Sphinx Foundation, as well as conductor Marin Alsop and Ahmed Aboutaleb, the popular mayor of Rotterdam, via video.
Growing Expo, Widening Range
Classical:NEXT 2017 is the third time the event is held in the renowned de Doelen Concert Hall and Congress Centre, and it sees music professionals from 44 countries across the world gather to discover, debate and decipher the current, emerging and future trends in classical and art music and beyond across a packed programme including conference sessions, showcase performances, video project pitches and more.
An important part of the meeting is the unique opportunity to network across branches and with colleagues in the growing Expo in de Doelen. This year, the Expo is the biggest yet with 80 stands and almost 300 exhibiting companies and institutions, which amounts to more than a 15% growth compared to last year’s numbers. Classical:NEXT organisers, Berlin-based Piranha Arts, confirmed that delegate registration numbers are already set to match last year’s record number of approximately 1,200 professionals.
Music is Better When We Play It Together
In a marked change from previous editions, the Classical:NEXT 2017 Opening Ceremony was presented not as a spotlight of the musical output of a particular nation, but instead asked the question of ‘what’s the point?’ Building upon a prominent topic of last year’s Opening keynotes – the need for continuing relevance – this year, the gala performance was a celebration of just how relevant the classical and contemporary scene can be.
The main performers of the first night were Chineke! Orchestra – Britain’s first black and minority ethnic (BME) orchestra – joined by the resident Doelen Ensemble and musicians and students from Codarts University for the Arts. The concert marked the orchestra’s mainland European debut and featured a selection of pieces by contemporary composers Sarah Kirkland Snider and Errollyn Wallen, as well as Edward Elgar’s Serenade for Strings.
Under the baton of Mortimer Fruber Prize-winning conductor Shaun Matthew, featured soloists included pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, violinist Tai Murray, soprano Nicole Jordan, and double bassist and founder of Chineke! Chi-chi Nwanoku. Nwanoku, who was also a co-director of the Opening, was one of the speakers of the night together with Afa S. Dworkin, president and artistic director of the US-based Sphinx Organization, who enthused:
“I am thrilled to be able to participate in Classical:NEXT this year: particularly, during such a turbulent time for our global society, I am eager to learn from and with colleagues around the globe and explore the immense power of the arts to unite, connect and erase barriers”
As well as those on stage, Classical:NEXT delegates were also joined by speakers via video messages. In this manner, Marin Alsop spoke of the bright future ahead for classical music and asked the pertinent questions: “What can we do to demonstrate our common humanity? What we can we do – individually and collectively – to make positive change?”. Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb used his message to explore connections in classical music, from personal, to city-wide, to world-wide.
Throughout the concert were also introductions to projects that epitomise the relevance and change that classical music can stir in communities around the world. The projects included 3 Thousand Rivers from Colombia, the Refugee Orchestra Project from the US, Gondwana Choirs from Australia, Selam Opera! from Germany, Zohra Afghan Women’s Orchestra from Afghanistan and Buskaid Soweto String Project from South Africa.
Chi-chi Nwanoku summed up the atmosphere of the Opening Ceremony with her words: “There is absolutely no reason why people of all backgrounds cannot enjoy the depth, complexity and beauty of classical music.”
The Opening is a joint production of Chineke! Foundation, Sphinx Organization, de Doelen and Piranha Arts. Chineke! Orchestra appears with the kind support of the GREAT campaign of the United Kingdom Department for International Trade as well as the British Council and PRS for Music Foundation.
Programme Overview: Connecting with Audiences Worldwide
The live musical programme for Classical:NEXT is expanded this year, under the title of the ‘Seriously – Adventures in Music’ festival and fully open to the public. Over the span of the event, artists from twelve countries and four continents will grace the Classical:NEXT stages in a range of performance contexts. Performing artists span the scene from emerging stars to art music veterans, including Collectif9, Maarja Nuut and David Krakauer.
In addition to the international jury-selected Showcase programme presented in de Doelen, a fresh format for this Classical:NEXT 2017 will allow delegates and public audiences to explore contemporary classical music in the intimate and informal settings of two of Rotterdam’s hippest club venues, BIRD and WORM. These Club Showcases comprise four live performances curated by Classical:NEXT director Jennifer Dautermann and Nonclassical artistic director Gabriel Prokofiev. A mainstay of the live programme at Classical:NEXT in Rotterdam is Lunch with the Resident, providing audiences with an opportunity to discover the breadth of Dutch musical talent with short lunchtime concerts organised by local partners de Doelen.
Two projects are highlighted in bespoke off C:N showcases. The Nordic Music Days 2017 will be represented by Distractfold Ensemble, and MusMa (partnered with the European Festival Association and European Broadcasting Union) will present the first collected performance of five specially-commissioned 2017 works, performed by Amôn Quartet from Belgium. In a collaboration initiated in 2016, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra will perform as part of the official Classical:NEXT programme, with a concert entitled ‘The Sea, The Sea!’. The performance will feature pieces by Michael Gordon and John Luther Adams, the orchestra conducted by Bas Wiegers and piano by Tomoko Mukaiyama.
For the first time at Classical:NEXT, the EBU will also record the international showcases for national radio stations, as well as making them available for radio stations worldwide, giving performing artists the maximum opportunity for visibility.
Further highlights of Classical:NEXT will be the interactive conference – the core of many Classical:NEXT delegates’ experience – with a total of 59 sessions and representatives from respected companies including Boosey & Hawkes, Carnegie Hall, Naxos, London Symphony Orchestra and many more offering new perspectives and concrete take-home know-how for the delegates.
The event will conclude with Saturday’s Closing Ceremony featuring a showcase of Trip Trip Trip and centred around the third Classical:NEXT Innovation Award, the winning project or person of which is decided by online vote, open to all delegates, from a shortlist selected by industry experts and journalists from 18 countries.
Classical:NEXT at Home in Rotterdam for Three More Years
Having grown in both size and reputation in its three years being held in Rotterdam, organisers Piranha Arts and de Doelen Concert Hall and Congress Centre today announced that the Classical:NEXT event will return to Rotterdam for a further three editions. Also revealed were the dates of Classical:NEXT 2018, which will be held 16 – 19 May 2018.