Q&A with Classical:NEXT

Ahead of the seventh Classical:NEXT conference IAM spoke to director Jennifer Dautermann and communications director Paul Bräuer to find out the themes, highlights and opportunities of this year’s event

IAM: What themes have emerged in this year’s programme?

Jennifer Dautermann: Classical:NEXT covers the entire art music ecosystem, thus there are always several themes each year. The most visible this edition is national, namely, France’ It gets kicked off in style with ‘WTF? What the France!’ the heading of this year’s opening event. The French scene opens its arms here, inviting the international professional community to discover a wide variety of musical excellence as an overture to French content over the following three days. This content includes additional concerts, conference sessions and speed dating opportunities.

Another noticeable trait this edition is the number of networks present, both official and ad hoc, covering sectors and regions. The European Festivals Association, NAXOS, FEVIS, the Global Orchestra Network Meeting, contemporary music Scenes in Europe and the US, Asia Pacific Basin Network Meeting, Music Export Offices, the European Agenda for Music, conservatories, the Indie-Classical Network Meeting – all these are taking part.

IAM: How can you help delegates crack the French market?

JD: Understanding and working with the French scene is the goal our partners had in mind when designing the French focus – and you can see from some of the session titles they are aware of their image and see the humour in it!

The series starts with ‘Who Said That the French Market was Inaccessible?’ on Thursday 17 May. Next up is ‘Who Said France was Not Open to the World?’ also on the Thursday, followed by ‘Who Said France Was Not Up for Business?’ on Friday. There will be so many French participants with whom to network over the course of the four days and plenty of opportunities for exchange.

Delegates at Classical:NEXT 2017 © Eric van Nieuwland

Delegates at Classical:NEXT 2017 © Eric van Nieuwland

IAM: Which tech elements are you excited to explore this year?

Paul Bräuer: In 2018, our conference will be addressing a widespread demand (or shortcoming) in the performing arts and music scene: we need to understand better the way music lovers behave online and use the digital sphere when it comes to listening to classical and contemporary music.

In some areas this is significantly different from how pop or jazz music lovers consume music, so many basic tactics from these areas do not work out with classical. We ask: what, why and when does a classical/contemporary music listener go online? Does she really want to listen to albums in total, is the experience he seeks here similar to listening to a CD at home or completely different? Do you change your listening behaviour when switching from a hip hop song to a symphony? Of course there are a multitude of user types and we will address and collect knowledge on exactly that.

There will be a panel on the new album format in streaming, the significance of video in the online world, presentations of good practice examples of apps and a workshop on how we in the arts can user data for good. You can find full details of our programme here.

IAM: What else is new for 2018?

JD: This year for the first time, our Innovation Award Nomination Committee were given a theme for their selections. They were asked to choose the most outstanding projects involved with orchestras or large ensembles. The focus could be narrow or wide, the connection direct or indirect. Nominees include Chineke! Orchestra, Iván Fischer and Les Talens Lyriques.

We also have sessions that carry on from last edition where a main theme was inclusion and in harmony with our mission to push for positive change in the industry and society.

And finally, to quote Samuel Beckett – “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – here is one of my own personal favourites. These two sessions follow up on last year’s highly successful “Epic Fail” session debut. They are ‘Epic Fail 1: Bullshit’ and ‘Epic Fail 2: Assholes’.


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