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'
(quote from 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)