Postcards from Beijing - C:N At Beijing Forum for Symphonic Music 2019

Aliena Haig at BFSM 2019

Classical:NEXT attended the Beijing Forum for Symphonic Music 2019 this past November, where our Press Officer, Aliena Haig, presented Classical:NEXT to a new audience, and joined on stage by the heads of, the NCPA Classic Channel and the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

The Beijing Forum for Symphonic Music, initiated by China National Centre for the Performing Arts in 2019, follows the principles of being international, professional, open and forward-looking. With a global vision, the forum aims to build a high-level platform for exchanges in the field of symphonic music. By following the frontiers and development trends of symphonic music and fully discussing related issues, the forum is to promote cross-region and cross-industry integration so as to seek win-win outcomes for shared interests and contribute to global cultural exchanges and development.

Read below the speech that was presented:

'"Good morning ladies and gentlemen, esteemed music industry colleagues,

It is a privilege to be here today, to stand in front of you and to share the work that we do. Thank you to the NCPA for this Forum and for letting us be a part of this mutual exchange and learning platform. I must admit, however, that I am not a music technology expert. I will leave that to my colleagues with whom I am very happy to share the stage. I, too, will learn a few things today!

But my job does give me a very good overview on what is happening in the Western/European classical and art music world. In this world, music technology plays a large and significant part. Classical:NEXT Director Jennifer Dautermann says that we in the Classical:NEXT team are global generalists. That is how I address you this morning.

Classical:NEXT is the annual global gathering of art music professionals. It is called “Classical:NEXT” because it puts priority on new paths forward. These paths are many. To name just a few – they are for concert giving, for reaching new audiences and for new technology.

There are many facets to Classical:NEXT. But in essence, it is a place where you can get an unprecedented amount of input on what is going on globally in classical music. This makes sense when you consider the fact that 1,300 professionals attended the last edition from 45 countries, spanning the entire spectrum of music sectors. The many formats allow for discovery, demonstration and discussion. The entire programme is the result of this global community contributing to the creation of the programme. It commits to working together, to help optimise what classical and art music can be. Technology has always been an important topic across the Project Pitches, Showcases and Conference and one of heavy interest. The developments in technology, and particularly music technology, in recent years, have brought about huge changes to the way in which music is made, shared and received. This is not new of course, surely also not to you– but the process of understanding how it affects the work we do is ongoing. Classical:NEXT ensures the collective community can keep up with the latest developments. It helps make sure these developments are put to best use for the best results.

Classical:NEXT has featured many conference and mentoring sessions that present, critique, teach and analyse technology and technological practices. These include conversations on “What is really working in digital”, on Concert Streaming, Music Production Workflow, Social Media, Online Music Listeners, Increasing Value in the Digital Space, Digital Promotion, Technological Empowerment and Opportunities in Technology. Sessions are designed and led by those professionals who are actively involved in the content they are presenting. They come from many parts of the music world, including concert hall representatives, leaders in technology, journalists and media representatives, labels and distributors and institutes of higher education.

A large portion are led by orchestra representatives from around the world, but mainly from Europe and North America. These orchestra representatives also take part in the annual Global Orchestra Network Meeting (now called the Global Orchestra Meet Up). In this meeting orchestras come together to discuss the most pressing issues and to compare experiences and expertise. On screen, you will see the names of a few of the orchestras who attended in 2019.

Several Classical:NEXT Showcases have also incorporated technology in their performances, which you can see in some of the photographs that follow. The annual Innovation Award also highlights the most forward-thinking projects from around the world, honouring the top three every year as voted for by the international community. Its annual long list of nominations is thus a very good reference for researching innovation around the world.

For the upcoming ninth edition, held again in Rotterdam in May 2020, Classical:NEXT is placing particular focus on technology. Following the format of the popular Project Pitches, the programme will feature a specially curated session for Tech Pitches. The Trade Fair will also have its very own Tech Area, for companies to present their products and services and for delegates to try them out and speak with the creators first-hand. We look forward to sharing in the many ideas and possibilities with those who plan to attend Classical:NEXT.

The global classical music community, in which orchestras hold a central role, is much like technology: in order to function optimally, it needs all the interconnected parts to work together. In order to succeed, it needs compatibility, which in itself requires research, curiosity and understanding. Often times compatibility can be hindered, but there is always a solution that never lies too far away.

When packing my bags in preparation of coming to Beijing to be here with you, I reached for my electricity adapter. At that moment I thought of an interesting comparison. Regardless of differences in voltage or in the socket and the plug, all of our digital devices need the same requirements to work and we all need the same basic tools. Converters exist to protect devices against different voltages. Adapters help plugs fit into foreign sockets. However unrelated two things are, technology finds a way of binding them. Classical:NEXT is the research and development hub for creating that technology, the springboard to finding ways of developing compatibility.

The more research and development that takes place, the better the technology, and the wider the pool of research, the more reliable the results. This means that the more people who are involved and contributing to that research, the better the outcome. It is similar for our area – classical music. The classical and art music community needs and deserves all of its members to take an active role. Then we can truly optimise. We can truly further the positive aspects the community brings to wider society.

Classical:NEXT is, first and foremost, a learning platform, a hub for ideas. We all learn from those who attend. We invite you to join us, to teach us about what you do, what challenges you face and what solutions you have. In learning, we find understanding, which leads to support and the bolstering of one another. A string of lights isn’t broken when one bulb stops working. The string keeps supporting the other bulbs, but the string as a whole, fails to shine as brightly. Our aim is to keep all the bulbs on the string burning bright. "

article posted by:Francisco Gonçalves Silva, Piranha Arts