I’m sitting in Schiphol Airport ruminating on the many positive aspects of being a part of Canada’s team attending the Classical:Next 2015 conference in Rotterdam (thank you to Orchestras Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts for the invitation and support).
The overwhelming feeling about being at such a conference is one of inspiration. In focussing on forward-thinking, the future of orchestras, innovation, creativity, the power in taking risks and the guarantee of relevancy that exists from trying new things (even as some have success and others fail) we were motivated, prodded, supported, and fired up to continue to strive for excellence and new direction.
David Pay, who led the showcase and focus on Canada was a hero in my mind. He portrayed Canada with strength and enormous talent with an opening night presentation that included Yannick-Nezet Sequin as a keynote speaker, an interview with Barbara Hannigan, a video that beautifully portrayed many talented orchestras and ensembles of Canada, and live performances from Canadian performers Tanya Tagaq, Continuum Contemporary Music, the Cecilia String Quartet and Megumi Masaki. Canadians led some of the conference sessions including a session on the Canadian Digital Content Initiative (led by David Pay and Tim Brady) and El Sistema: Threat, Fad or the Future of Music? (led by Jonathon Govias).
There is a vitality, a life force, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. / If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and will be lost. The world will not have it. – Martha Graham, choreographer
The sessions focussed on music streaming, digital content, alternative venues, branding, engagement of new audiences, relevance for orchestras and the arts of the future (The Arts in 2050 was a particularly interesting session). My personal favourite was the final session of the conference, “The Innovation Chain” which was hosted by an incredible group of leaders from the UK and the Netherlands. There were many inspiring aspects coming from this session. Here are some of the quotes that impacted me the most:
Only do what only you can do / lead with your values and your vision – Ruth Mackenzie (Artistic director, Holland Festival)
The people I find are the empty seats in the concert hall – innovative alternative performer Yannick Kiwat, violinist, composer, artistic director, Ananse orchestra
To create a piece of art that will survive history should be all of our goal – Gavin Reid, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Whatever you create that is genuine, there is an audience for it. Our goal is to find the audience. – Gavin Reid, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Innovation is being open. My drive in life is to “not know” to be open. – Henk Heuvelmans
As I reflect on the conference, I realize too that innovation is connection. Listening to other’s ideas is to be constantly redirected in our own thoughts. Often our own ideas are almost ready to come out, and someone else’s experiences or visions propel us exactly to where we need to go. The most distinct aspect of the final session that hit home for me is that we are all a part of an innovation chain.
Talk, listen, create with the orchestra. As management lets go of power, you and your orchestra are going to do what you can do together – discussion between Neil Wallace, Programme Director, De Doelen Concert Hall and Henk Heuvelmans, Director of Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Utrecht
In having the opportunity to attend the conference, I connected to innovative and creative leaders in a special way. Often we have talent so close around us, but we are so focussed on our own organizations and endeavours that we don’t take the time to truly connect. It was great to be inspired from international leaders, but even more incredible was to realize how talented Canada is, and what an amazing group of innovators and creators we are nurturing and producing. We should all continue to be inspired to take risks, to be relentless in finding ways to reach new audiences, and to ensure the future of classical music in Canada.
If at first an idea is not absurd, then there’s no hope for it – Albert Einstein
There are a lot of amazing creative people in the world, and it was a privilege to be influenced by these forces for the future of art. Thanks again to Orchestra Canada for the privilege of being a part of their Canadian Team and to the Canada Council for the support in attending the conference. I wish everyone the power of success that comes from having the courage of innovative vision and commitment to the future of music.
Be an “ensemble of possibilities” – Pierre Boulez
Tania Miller, Music Director
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.
Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.