Hebrides Ensemble at Classical:NEXT

26 May 2017

We were very proud to be represented at last week’s Classical:NEXT conference in Rotterdam by our Digital Producer Gill Davies. Here’s what Gill got up to:

Classical:NEXT is the international conference dedicated to classical music, held in the impressive De Doulen Concert Hall in the equally impressive city of Rotterdam. It’s a fantastic forum for networking and exchanging ideas, so I was delighted to be a delegate at this year’s conference representing Hebrides Ensemble in a panel discussion on ‘Empowering the Classical Music Business with Technology’. My fellow panellists were from the Australian Discovery Orchestra, the world’s first solely digital streaming orchestra; Gigle, an online booking service for musicians, based in Finland; and IDAGIO, an online streaming service based in Germany. I gave a presentation on the audiovisual streaming technology LOLA (LOw LAtency) that allows musicians to play together in real-time over the Internet when they are in different locations. Hebrides Ensemble and composer Sir James MacMillan have used LOLA successfully to facilitate remote masterclasses with students at the Royal College of Music, London and Conservatorio Tartini, Trieste, Italy. The high turnout for the session was a surprise – in my experience, technology sessions at music conferences are usually held on the last day when many delegates have gone home or they’re tucked away in rooms far away from the main events. So it was great to have interest in the work we’ve done with LOLA from music groups in Poland, Belgium, Sweden and Australia.

The conference featured sessions on a range of subjects, from the challenges of streaming classical music, to where to invest in order to reach audiences in the future. One of the most entertaining sessions explored how organisations had learned from mistakes in music and marketing. Audience members didn’t hold back on epic fails that they’d made – needless to say, filming and photography was not allowed in that session!

Classical:Next’s Expo featured exhibits and stalls from music organisations, labels, publishers, agents, festivals and others – including our own Scottish Music Centre – in a trade fair format. This was a great place for networking and it was great to meet and share ideas with delegates from music groups from all over the world.

While much of Classical:Next is aimed at the classical music recording industry, it was encouraging to find out that some music organisations are genuinely interested in finding out about how technology can extend audience reach. The Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Canada, for example, were interested in finding out more about our streamed concerts and the technology we use.

The conference closed with a performance by Columbian guitar trio, Trip Trip Trip – they’d be perfect for Celtic Connections – and the award ceremony for Classical:Next’s Innovation Award, designed to place the spotlight on forward-thinking activities taking place around the world. Ilan Volkov’s Tectonics Festival was one of the nominees, but the award went to the Buskaid Soweto String Academy of Performance and Teaching in South Africa which provides tuition in bowed strings to young people from disadvantaged circumstances in the Soweto township of Johannesburg.

It was a pleasure to represent Hebrides Ensemble at this fantastic conference and to spread the news of our digital programme. There was a lot of interest in our work so watch this space for future collaborations!

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