Women in music celebrated at Classical:NEXT Awards

Classical:NEXT announced the winners of their Innovation Awards at the closing ceremony for the conference held at De Doelen in Rotterdam on 18 May.

Celebrating the life of German composer and pianist Clara Schumann’s, whose 200th birthday is being marked this year, Classical:NEXT wanted to honour her works for orchestra, chamber music and character pieces for solo piano by creating a special focus on women in music for their 2019 awards. Over 26 nationalities were represented, with three women chosen by the 20 members of the nominating committee and the Classial:NEXT community.

Innovation Award winners © Eric Van
Innovation Award winners (holding awards, left to right): Resonancia Femenina and Shirley Apthorp  © Eric Van Nieuwland

Set up in 2015, the Innovation Awards were designed to place a spotlight on forward-thinking classical music activities taking place around the world.

One of the three winners was Vanessa Reed, outgoing chief executive of PRS Foundation, who was recognised for her role in launching projects to empower women and transform the future of the music industry. Keychange, for example, campaigns for a 50:50 gender balance on festival bills by 2022 and aims to accelerate change and create a better more inclusive music industry for present and future generations.

Said Reed: “I’m delighted to accept this award on behalf of Keychange’s seven founding festival partners, 60 female artists and innovators and 160+ pledge signatories from across the globe. It’s timely for us to be honoured at Classical:NEXT as we open our pledge to orchestras, conservatoires, concert halls and any music organisation who want to commit to a more balanced and successful music industry. I’m particularly pleased that De Doelen which hosted the conference is one of the first major European venues to sign the pledge in this new phase which will be launched formally on June 25th at the Swedish Ambassador’s residence in London.”

Vanessa Reed © Eric Van Hieuwland
Vanessa Reed © Eric Van Nieuwland

The second winner of the night was music journalist South African-born Shirley Apthorp. Apthrop founded Umculo in 2010 with the aim to offer musical development opportunities through international partnerships with a focus on voice and musical theatre. It has produced 10 operas for the disadvantaged communities of South Africa using old and new music to tackle current social issues such as gender-based violence, crime, corruption and poverty.

Resonancia Femenina based in Chile was recognised for its work to substantiate the situation and presence of women in music. Created in 2012, the organisation created spaces for concerts, albums, talks and articles to try and strengthen the role of women in music. In 2017 it established the first gathering of women in music, where the Añañuca prize was awarded for the recognition of the career and musical contribution of Chilean women.

Added C:N general manager Fabienne Krause: “Seeing 1,300 delegates again this year from 45 countries, from each sector of the art music world, plus the strongest presence of women so far, shows that we all see the need to stick together – We all sit in the same boat and it is too important to sink!”


Fabienne Krause © Eric Van Nieuwland
Fabienne Krause © Eric Van Nieuwland