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22 May 2019

Australians shine at Classical:NEXT 2019 in Rotterdam

Ensemble Offspring taking a bow after their showcase in Rotterdam Image: Ensemble Offspring taking a bow after their showcase in Rotterdam  

Classical:NEXT descends upon De Doelen in Rotterdam once a year, bringing with it hundreds of performers, composers, arts administrators, and companies from all over the world. This year, between 16-18 May, that number included 24 Australians, between them presenting three showcases, a project pitch, and percussionist/artistic director Claire Edwardes chairing a panel on gender equity - in addition to the multitude of meetings, networking events and mentoring sessions.

Now in its eighth year, Classical:NEXT runs for four days including concert performances, panels and 93 stalls spread across two floors of foyer space in the De Doelen concert hall. This year, the conference was synchronised with ROAM (Rotterdam Art Music Festival) and Operadagen (an international opera and music theatre festival), creating a wider festival vibe across Rotterdam for the 931 attendees.

SOUNDS AUSTRALIA and the Australian Music Centre hosted a stand to act as a meeting point and home base for the delegates. As is tradition, Glenn Dickie (SOUNDS AUSTRALIA), grilled up ever-popular vegemite and cheese toasties for passing attendees and made introductions to our artists in attendance.

Of note were our two Classical:NEXT Fellows, composer and pianist Belle Chen and arts administrator Simonette Turner, who made the most of their mentorships with established arts professionals. You can read more about the Fellows in this news article on Resonate.

Our showcases highlighted variety, beginning with Sonya Lifschitz's performance of an exceprt of Stalin's Piano by Robert Davidson. The powerful work blends video clips of famous artists and politicians from Brecht to Michelle Obama, with piano lines and spoken word to tell important poignant stories.

Ensemble Offspring presented two works with accompanying video projections. Kate Moore's Fern (2012) blended with the naturescapes of Lillian Brown's film, while Andrea Keller's Love in Solitude (2019) was supported by video from Peter Humble.

Finally, the Zephyr Quartet collaborated with Hong Kong-born artist GayBird to an electronic-acoustic collaboration, Another Music in Anticlockwise - a timeless soundscape, created by blending psychedelic electronics, animation and constantly morphing classical string sounds.

The Australian delegates clearly made their mark on Classical:NEXT. In founding director Jennifer Dautermann's closing speech she referenced Michelle Obama's speech (used in Davidson's Stalin's Piano), that art is about 'connecting to people, it's the key to everything we want to be or do in life, our ability to connect with people'. And in praising the largest and friendliest gathering of this conference to date, perhaps that's also what Classical:NEXT is about: making connections.

> Classical:NEXT (www.classicalnext.com)

Composer Cameron Lam works at APRA AMCOS as Art Music Specialist.


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