‘Best Classical:NEXT so far’ concludes in Rotterdam

The fourth and most successful edition of Classical:NEXT to date has drawn to a close in Rotterdam’s de Doelen concert hall. This year’s event comprised four days of showcase and conferencing sessions that saw over 1,000 classical music organisations, artists and managers meeting to exchange views and discuss opportunities to forge new pathways for the future of the industry.

Overall attendance was up by 10 per cent on last year, while the expo side of the event grew by a quarter, with 209 exhibitors representing numerous countries, labels, regions, institutions and tech enterprises at 71 stands. Classical:NEXT 2015 developed a stronger international flavour than ever before, too: the Canada-led opening night was matched by representation from 45 other nations over the course of the conference – including, for the first time, delegates from Lebanon, Kosovo, Cyprus and Colombia.

Jennifer Dautermann (centre) and her C:N colleagues
Jennifer Dautermann (centre) and her C:N colleagues

Moreover, Classical:NEXT director Jennifer Dautermann noted the improved balance and diversity of sectors represented at this year’s event, saying: ‘While we’re extremely pleased that even more international professionals have joined us this year and attendance levels overall are on the rise, it is the optimisation of the balance amongst individual sectors which makes us especially happy. We’ve put increased effort into this in these past years.’

Anselm Rose of German orchestra association Deutscher Orchestertag echoed these sentiments, and praised the fact that the event brought together ‘lots of fresh ideas, food for thought, new music, new formats and an excellent networking opportunity on an international level. Innovation in the music business starts right here.’

Lucerne Festival’s Ark Nova – an inflatable touring concert hall, designed by Arata Isozaki and Anish Kapoor to bring culture to areas in crisis – and the Southbank Centre’s The Rest is Noise festival (a full year of 20th century music programming) were the recipients of the first-ever Classical:NEXT Innovation Award, presented during a conference closing event that also featured live music from Dutch sextet Fuse. Winners were selected from among 21 pioneering projects, with all members of Classical:NEXT’s online platform, C:N NET, called upon to vote online for their favourite. Women Conductors at Morley College was named a runner-up, as was Boston’s Groupmuse, a chamber music project that creates recitals hosted in people’s homes.

Eight jury-selected musical acts took to the stage at de Doelen, including Ensemble U: (Estonia), Oorkaan/Cello8ctet Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and Kaleidoscope String Quartet (Switzerland). A total of 22 musical acts, featuring 72 performers from 10 countries and presenting music spanning from the Middle Ages to the 21st century appeared live over the course of the four-day event.

25 jury-selected sessions made up the bulk of the programme, alongside mentoring sessions, pitch parties and networking meetings. 72 expert speakers from 16 countries led sessions on topics ranging from strategic management, new business models and unorthodox programming to streaming market convergence, the study of audiences, and metadata solutions to improve search options for classical music in download services.

Martin Hoffmann of the Berlin Philharmonic and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, chief conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, both delivered keynote addresses accentuating the need to balance this drive towards the new with classical music’s existing formats and highly-revered heritage.

The organisers, Piranha Arts, and their partners at de Doelen have already announced that they will continue their collaboration next year, meaning that the next edition of Classical:NEXT will take place in Rotterdam from 25-28 May 2016, coinciding with de Doelen’s 50th anniversary.

Perhaps most satisfying of all for new and seasoned delegates alike, many noted that, four years into its existence, Classical:NEXT 2015 felt as though a true community has begun to form around the event. For more information and reflection on this year’s conference, see www.classicalnext.com