National Sawdust: Hear It New! took to the stage to officially open the 2019 edition of Classical:NEXT last night, on Wednesday, 15 May 2019. The Brooklyn-based music venue and artist incubator curated a series of high-calibre performances, introducing electrifying new compositional voices to the audience and set the tone for the remainder of the event. 

#CNEXT19 Opening Concert in DeDoelen

The evening began with a Deep Listening session, led by the renowned and multi-faceted IONE. Guiding the audience through the practice, the session created a warm and resonating body of sound, as the members of the audience echoed and bounced colourful tones off of each other. The World Wide Tuning Meditation was developed by Pauline Oliveros and explores the difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary, selective nature of listening. It cultivates a heightened awareness of the sonic environment, both external and internal, and promotes experimentation, improvisation, collaboration, playfulness and other creative skills vital to personal and community growth.

In line with what the World Wide Tuning Meditation promotes, Classical:NEXT not only seeks to raise awareness of the sonic environment, but the many environments that come together over the course of the coming days. It seeks to turn that awareness into active, productive and applicable solutions for each sector and each environment. In Emma O’Halloran’s composition Constellations, as performed by the YoungDoelen Ensemble, soprano Michaela Riener sang “all the pieces that were pulled apart, they don’t fit like they should anymore.” At Classical:NEXT, we aim to help those pieces fit together once again.

Aligning with the headline of this year’s edition “21st Century Polyphony: More Voices, Greater Symphonies”, the Classical:NEXT Opening highlighted works that draw attention to those underrepresented in leadership, on the podium and in audiences.

“Classical:NEXT is a global gathering for all: all sectors, all countries;
big budget, no budget and every level in between, innovators and
traditionalists and every shade in between.”

– Jennifer Dautermann, Classical:NEXT director

#CNEXT19 Director Jennifer Dautermann adresses the delegates

In the face of division, hashtags, and soundbites, Forward Music Project 2.0: in this skin, commissioned five new multimedia works for solo cello and provides space and time for audiences to listen deeply to, interact with, and contemplate the visceral joys and struggles of women. Amanda Gookin performed a piece from the project entitled To Tell A Story, written by National Sawdust co-founder and artistic director Paola Prestini, with sound design by Sxip Shirey.

Paola herself took to the stage to introduce National Sawdust to the audience and to announce their new partnership with Meyer Sound. With Meyer Sound’s Constellation® acoustic system, National Sawdust artists will be able to create and work within multiple acoustics, all with the press of a button, while its immersive component Spacemap® will allow them to explore and play with three-dimensional spatial sound, using the sophisticated, multi-channel panning system. Read more here.

“We are together here because in some ways we believe in the power of art to heal, entertain, and to bridge our wildly varied existence. Yet we exist within the same binding and cosmic force of nature and if there is meaning there is no reason to shut down and so we communicate, build strong communities, and arks, and we listen.”
– Paola Prestini, composer, co-founder and artistic director, National Sawdust

Up next was Peru-native Pauchi Sasaki, performing original music live on stage in accompaniment to Murat Eyuboglu’s short feature film Kipatsi, Nija, Añaantsi (Land, Water, Life). The film illuminates the story of the Asháninka people of the Amazon basin in Peru and seeks to bring art, science and history together to help us come to a better understanding of our world and how we can begin to make our world a better place for all to live in.

Director general for culture and media at the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Barbera Wolfensberger, announced to the audience:

“I think it’s safe to say that Classical:NEXT has become the most important worldwide event in the field of classical music and I am extremely proud
that Rotterdam is hosting Classical:NEXT for the fifth consecutive year.
I hope we can continue this tradition for a very long time and that every
new edition will bring an exciting new programme.”

Photos and audio are available now in the press folders here and here.