Internationalisation opportunities for composers and ensembles
Earlier this year, Dutch Performing Arts commissioned Nieuw Geneco, the Dutch professional association for composers, to explore the opportunities for Dutch composers and ensembles abroad. Nieuw Geneco subsequently dispatched delegates to the ISCM World Music Days in Vancouver and the Donaueschinger Musiktage in Germany to scout out opportunities for internationalisation and investigate the relevance of these events.
The ISCM World Music Days were held in Vancouver, Canada from 2 to 8 November 2017. The International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) was founded in 1922 in Vienna to promote new music around the world, and is currently undergoing a huge overhaul and rejuvenation. Alison Isadora presented the activities of Nieuw Geneco to the ISCM members. Isadora was joined in Vancouver by Cathy van Eck (composer), Felipe Waller (composer), and Masa Spaan (Wonderfeel Festival, artistic advisor to Nieuw Geneco). They thought the edition in Vancouver was exceptional on many fronts: “To start with there was a highly varied selection of instrumentation. Besides orchestras, large ensembles and quartets, there was an ensemble of Chinese instruments, an improvisation ensemble, and attention for new media,” Isadora reports. “There was also special consideration for gender diversity. This resulted in a large number of female composers (46%!), which was only to the benefit of festival’s quality.”
Dutch composers were amply represented at the World Music Days 2017 in Vancouver. Whereas normally a single work from each country is played, at this edition no fewer than three works by Dutch composers – Cathy van Eck, Felipe Waller and Luiz Yudo – were chosen for performance by the international jury. Work by the Netherlands-based composer Aurelie Lierman was selected as well, submitted on behalf of Belgium.
The Young Composer Award (for under 35s) that is connected to the festival is also of interest. The winning composer receives a stipend from ISCM to compose a new work for the following festival. A Call for Work for the ISCM World Music Days 2018 in Beijing was also issued.
This year the festival co-organised a presenters programme with Canada Council, in order to draw several artistic directors and curators from various international ‘presenting’ presentational institutions to the festival, besides ISCM members. Most were representatives of innovative festivals, including Masa Spaan from the Netherlands-based Wonderfeel Festival.
“There are certainly opportunities for Nieuw Geneco to work with other ISCM members,” according to Isadora. “We had exploratory discussions with a variety of representatives, most of whom run their own festivals or maintain close contact with a festival in their region. It would be worth inviting them to the Netherlands to become better acquainted and exchange ideas, in the context of the international visitors programme of Dutch Performing Arts, for example.”
Masa Spaan also visited the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2017, an annual four-day festival for new music organised by the German radio station SWR Classic, on behalf of Nieuw Geneco. The festival, which ran from 19 to 22 October, functions as a showcase for new work, usually commissioned by the festival. Since the appointment of Björn Gottstein as director, the festival has gradually adopted a new course. “This year, for example, there was consideration for new concert formats and the more multidisciplinary ways in which a mostly younger generation of composers works for the first time,” Spaan explains. “At the moment there is still little contact with Dutch composers, but with Gottstein’s change of course more possibilities could arise. For example, they grant commissions in consultation with orchestras and ensembles. We are also seeking openings for potential collaborations with the festival, but also with ensembles who have performed there in the past.”
ISCM2017 Opening Concert: Life Reflected with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. November 2, 2017 at The Centre for the Arts in Vancouver. Presented by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Jan Gates