In coming days Australia participates again in what over recent years has become the leading international event for exploring innovation in classical music, Classical:NEXT. Taking place in Rotterdam 16-19 May, it is part conference and part marketplace where participants from 45 countries pitch projects and take part in showcase concerts. The annual event describes itself as a meeting place “for all art music innovators” in all sectors of classical music practice including early, contemporary, traditional and experimental.
Two Australian musicians, pianist Aura Go and percussionist Matthias Schack-Arnott, have been selected for Classical:NEXT’s Fellowship Program – read about these fabulous musicians in our earlier story. They will join eight other fellows chosen from the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. All will participate at Rotterdam and in mentorships arranged through the program. Their fellowships are supported by partner institutions in each country; here it is the Australian Music Centre and APRA AMCOS.
Aura Go will be paired with Gabriel Oostvogel, former director of Rotterdam’s De Doelen concert complex, and Matthias Schack-Arnott with Martel Ollerenshaw, creative producer from the UK.
Two Australian entries were longlisted for Classical:NEXT’s Innovation Award 2018, although they did not make it into its shortlist. These were the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra “for their sustained commitment to innovation in concert presentation format which allows performers and audiences to re-think how they experience old and new music”, and Mary Finsterer’s opera Biographica in its premiere production by Sydney Chamber Opera in association with Ensemble Offspring for the 2017 Sydney Festival.
To gain more insight into Classical:NEXT and Australia’s involvement, we asked John Davis, CEO of the Australian Music Centre, for a few comments.
“This is the second year that AMC and APRA AMCOS have been involved in the CN Fellowship Program,” he says. “Last year Leah Blankendaal and Kaylee Melville were the fellows. Fellows get a stipend and travel allowance [to Rotterdam] funded by AMC and APRA AMCOS.”
“Aura and Matthias were selected after a panel considered responses to a Call for Expressions of Interest. They were both outstanding candidates, and a cut above what other CN Fellowship partners will present in their selections.”
AMC’s partnership with Classical:NEXT began with a feasibility visit in 2015 and is now in its third year. Australia’s involvement grown over the years. “Genevieve Lacey was on the CN jury last year, and this year Marshall McGuire was on the jury,” notes Davis.
“London-based Australian pianist Bell Chen has been selected in the showcase program – the first Australian to be represented. Other highlights this year include project pitches from Genevieve Lacey and Chamber Made’s Tamara Saulwick.”
Davis will be moderator for four Asia-Pacific Basin networking sessions at Classical:NEXT, reprising the same role from last year.
Australia’s delegation will be down in numbers – 11 are going compared to 20 in 2017 and 30 in 2016 – but Davis says our representation will nevertheless demonstrate “high quality” and “will include ‘buyers’ City Recital Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre, Canberra International Music Festival, and maybe one other. Creative Partnerships Australia also attending.”
He adds: “Classical:NEXT has always had lots of ‘sellers’ but has not been so strong on ‘buyers’, building slowly over recent editions; so our delegation will be in high demand from spruikers and dealers.”
The Australian contingent is traditionally well liked, too. Davis says that Sounds Australian hosts a reception at its stand on the Friday, at which “vegemite and cheese toasties and mimosa cocktails always go down well, and make an great impression!”