Canada is the NEXT big thing

The big ideas driving debates at 2015’s Classical:NEXT, taking place in Rotterdam from 20-23 May, will be Interaction, Visuals and Challenging The Genre.

This will be the international forum’s fourth edition, after previous gatherings held in Vienna (2013, 2014) and Munich (2012) helped the conference to gain a reputation on the global classical music circuits as a hothouse for exciting new ideas. Organisers hope that the event, which includes showcases, workshops and networking opportunities, will better equip delegates to spot the key industry trends of the future.

The 2015 edition will feature a double keynote opening address delivered by Berliner Philharmoniker general manager Martin Hoffmann, alongside Québécois conductor and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The latter, a former principal guest conductor with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, is current music director of both the Philadelphia Orchestra and Montréal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, as well as the principal conductor for the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

‘Yannick Nézet-Séguin embodies many of the aspects of Classical:NEXT 2015 and, as a conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, is a perfect choice for the opening keynote,’ said Classical:NEXT director Jennifer Dautermann. ‘He’s in the early phase of his career and thus represents the near future, and he’s also great at reaching out to the audience at his concerts.’

The Canadian Music Centre and the Canada Council for the Arts are hosting the opening night gala titled Canada:NEXT. David Pay, artistic director of Vancouver concert series Music on Main, is curating the evening, which includes performances from Inuit throat-singer Tanya Tagaq, the Cecilia String Quartet and soprano Barbara Hannigan.

Glenn Hodgins, executive director of the Canadian Music Centre, said Canada’s musical history makes it a great choice to open the event: ‘Canada is filled with the kind of fresh thinking that led Glenn Gould to change the face of the recording industry and R Murray Schafer to invent soundscape.’

Performers selected to showcase work have all been chosen for commitments to ‘unorthodox approaches and new formats.’ Examples include British pianist James Rhodes, well known for engaging his audiences with humorous informal recitals, and Dutch ensemble Cello8ctet Amsterdam, creator of unique programmes for children.

Other acts on the line-up include Dutch group Rembrandt Frerichs Trio; Estonian visual art and piano collective Ensemble U; a solo performance with sound installation by Belgium’s Zefiro Torna; and contemporary compositions from Swiss group Kaleidoscope String Quartet.

Delegates scheduled to speak at the conference hail from the Metropolitan Opera, El Sistema, Interlochen Centre for the Arts, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and Universal/ECM. Planned topics for discussion include strategic orchestra management, educational trends, digital streaming, experiential marketing, and studying today’s audiences. Advice will also be available on doing business in France and the Middle East.

The closing event will feature the presentation of the first Classical:NEXT Innovation Award, recognising and rewarding those practitioners seen to be taking a ‘daring, intelligent, effective and out-of-the-box’ approach to their work.

‘Innovation is a relative thing, actually: what might be normal for one country might be radically new for another. Each country is at a different stage and has different conditions, just as each type of audience is different,’ said Dautermann.

A longlist of inaugural Innovation Award nominees, as selected by a committee of music journalists and bloggers from 14 countries, will be announced later this month. From March, the 2,000-strong Classical:NEXT community will be able to cast votes for the winners via its dedicated online networking platform C:N NET.

Classical:NEXT are currently offering a discounted Guide Rate, which equates to a €70 saving on the walk-up price and also gets your name listed in the printed guide. The Guide Rate offer expires 6 March.