Exchange inspiration at
New Music Conference

Newly composed music took centre stage during the third edition of New Music Conference, in cultural centre Verkadefabriek in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. At the initiative of Buma and festival November Music, 120 composers, programmers, music publishers and other professionals from the Netherlands and abroad came together to reflect on current developments in New Music. The Buma Classical Award was presented to composer and arranger Toek Numan. In addition, Martin Fondse spoke about his new role as Composer of the Netherlands.

A city under the spell of carnival, the November Music festival in full swing and reports of a possible new lockdown: it may have felt unreal to gather with colleagues and exchange ideas offline for the first time since 2019. Nevertheless, many professionals from the world of New Music (contemporary classical, experimental music, sound art, including crossovers with jazz and world) had made their way to New Music Conference in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. A livestream made it possible to follow four programme components online during the day.

Composers Rebecca Saunders and Michel van der Aa opened the conference in a conversation with musicologist Maarten Beirens. Next up were Martin Fondse and Calliope Tsoupaki, respectively the newly appointed and the departing Composer of the Netherlands, who highlighted the importance of this position in the Dutch cultural landscape.

Buma CEO Bernard Kobes presented the Buma Classical Award to Toek Numan. Since 1996, Numan has been writing very diverse works for renowned Dutch and foreign ensembles. In addition, he arranges classical pieces for music theatre and (large-scale) performances for children.

Other topics during New Music Conference included the promotional platform New Music NOW; the intertwining of nature and culture in four interviews with sound artists by journalist Joep Christenhusz (Sonic Entanglements); composing for a city or the countryside (with composers Angela de Weijer and Bart de Vrees and Piet-Jan van Rossum); inclusion within the New Music festival world (a panel under the auspices of Sounds Now, a network of European music festivals and cultural centres).

The role of the music publisher was discussed, as well as the correct management of music rights. Master’s students composition from the Dutch conservatoires presented themselves during the New Composers Pitch, presented by NPO’s Co de Kloet. Out of six impressive presentations, it was Alice Yeung, a student at Royal Conservatoire The Hague, who was selected to present a work during next year’s November Music. The jury consisted of composer/arranger Toek Numan, artistic director of November Music Bert Palinckx, sound art curator Raquel Castro (PT) and A. Crespo Barba, the winner of New Composers Pitch 2019.

In 2022, New Music Conference will take place on Friday 11 November.