Every year I make sure to attend one or two international music conferences. Those forums that I have been to help broaden my perspectives and inject fresh ideas into my writing. I always enjoy talking to my colleagues and peers in the industry, listening to what others have to say, understanding the latest development of the musical world, or sometimes capturing anecdotes and counts good for my story.
Furthermore, the conferences and forums are wonderful places for networking, to connect with old friends and make new acquaintances. My first conference/expo experience was at the MIDEM in Cannes in 2006 when I was still with the Gramophone China. A lot of people I met there from Taiwan, Denmark, Finland, France and UK etc are still close friends.
As a lonely music journalist/critic who spends most of the time in the auditorium and in front of a computer screen whose job description includes one that “don’t shake hands with musicians at the back stage”, the conference provides an easy-going environment where I can escape from the sacred discipline for a moment.
Throughout the years I have attended a dozen or so international conferences. From the first Classical: NEXT in Munich to the National Congress of the League of American Orchestras in Atlanta, either as an official delegate with my former employer, a member of the press or as a last-minute-drop-in observer. Each conference experience differs greatly from the other, but there is one thing in common: to feel how small I am and to marvel at how big they are.
Following are some of the conferences that I would consider going in 2017, in random order.
KLASSIKOM’s pick of international conferences in 2017
FIM International Orchestra Conference
11-14 May 2017
Created in 2008 by FIM (International Federation of Musicians), the International Orchestra Conference takes place every three years. The previous editions took place in Berlin (2008), Amsterdam (2011) and Oslo (2014). The aim of this dedicated conference is to give symphony orchestra or opera musicians down to the smallest ensemble orchestras the opportunity to share their experiences, concerns and initiatives on issues such as improving working conditions, consolidating employment, risk prevention where health and safety are concerned, developing audiences or public or private financial perpetuation.
I attended the 2011 conference in Amsterdam and queued for ten minutes before I could condemn the airlines that ban violin as carry-on. Super heated discussion in all languages.
Pearle*-Live Performance Europe is the European federation representing through its members and associations about 7,000 theatres, theatre production companies, orchestras and music ensembles, opera houses, ballet and dance companies, festivals, concert halls, venues and other organisations within the performing arts and music sector across Europe.
I attended the executive committee meeting in Budapest in 2010 as an observer at the invitation of then Treasurer. The meeting offers an exclusive insight into EU’s performing arts legislation.
The ABO’s primary event each year is its annual conference, the major gathering of the classical music industry in the UK and beyond, with over 350 delegates drawn from orchestras both from within the UK and abroad, plus funding agencies, venues, agents, publishers and suppliers. The 2017 Conference will be held at the Bournemouth International Centre from 25-27 January 2017, hosted by Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
I attended ABO Conference five times, from 2009 to 2012 and in 2015 again. Apart from the piercing discussions and uncompromising topics, I love most the sleek design of the best conference bag and always take pride owning the latest one.
LAO National Conference
June 6-8, 2017
Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI
In 2016, nearly 1,000 orchestra administrators, musicians, trustees, and volunteers gathered in Baltimore for the League of American Orchestras’ 71st National Conference.
I attended the LAO National Conference in Atlanta back in 2010. That was my first and only experience of the conference. From what I understand, LAO’s is the biggest meeting place for the orchestra professionals in the world. It’s great to meet orchestra colleagues and easy to get lost in its enormous exhibition area.
The demise of MIDEM is inevitable with the rise of Classical: NEXT as people in the classical music often say. Classical:NEXT was born out of the simple idea to bring the diverse scenes of classical music together and offer them a forum to exchange and develop new ways for classical and contemporary music. Since the first edition in 2012, about 3000 classical music professionals from more than 1000 companies and from over 45 countries have engaged with Classical:NEXT and made it into the world’s most important classical music meeting. It’s a shame that I can’t split into parts to be at the many simultaneous showcases, sessions, mentoring, talks and receptions.
I am a proud participant into its inaugural edition taking place in 2012 at the Munich Gasteig. I went back in 2015 and 2016 to Rotterdam and was on its Innovation Awards nominating committee for a third year. You can read my quote here. Just love it.
Opera Europa Conference
Opera Europa is the leading service organisation for professional opera companies and opera festivals throughout Europe. It currently serves 166 member companies from 42 different countries. Its main office is in Brussels.
Its biannual conferences are the major gatherings of members and provide unrivalled opportunities for networking, sharing experiences and making deals. Next spring the conference will take place at the birthplace of public opera: Venice.
I have never been to this conference but always look forward to it.
The International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) is organized by the International Music Council with the financial assistance of participating radio networks. It is an international forum of representatives of broadcasting organizations who come together for the purpose of exchanging and broadcasting contemporary art music. Until 2002, its annual sessions were held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, except for the 2000 edition which was held in Amsterdam at the generous invitation of Muziek Groep Nederland and the Gaudeamus Foundation. Since 2003, a rotation system has been put in place with the Rostrum traveling around Europe every second year while the other year, its is hosted by Radio France. Starting from 2010 the Rostrum is travelling around Europe by invitation of National Radio Brodcasters. The IRC was initiated in 1954 with the participation of four European radio organizations.
I was at the 63rd IRC Forum in Wrocław as an observer. The forum took place in conjunction with the EMC’s conference as well as the 7th edition of Tauron Musica Electronica Nova which got me invited. That was a lovely coincidence.
The European Music Council, a regional group of the International Music Council (IMC), is the umbrella organisation for musical life in Europe. It is a platform for National Music Councils and organisations involved in various fields of music from many European countries. EFM is EMC’s annual gathering. Both EMC and PEARLE* are members of the Europe Alliance for Culture and the Arts, a consortium of lobbying organizations to EU’s cultural legislation.
I was delighted to be at its annual forum in Wrocław, Poland in 2016 when Wrocław was the European Capital of Culture.
There are other well established conferences/expos for the music business like ISPA, IAMA and others that need little introduction. In the Asia Pacific region, FACP, AAPPAC and AAPRO are three of the most pre-eminent meeting places for the performing arts and the orchestra sector.
For the rest, I will update this conference alert at a timely manner to fill in the dates and locations, and add interesting conferences that are not on my radar yet. So please bookmark this page and come back from time to time to check out the latest.