Where to now? New music in times of crisis
In 2020, the music world is fighting to survive. There is no doubt that music itself will prevail, but what will come from this year’s turbulence, musically, artistically? We bring together a varied panel that will exchange information and ideas on the state of the art from their respective backgrounds.
In March 2020 NRC Handelsblad named Diamanda La Berge Dramm one of the 101 talents for the next decade. The Dutch daily was late to the party, for this talent already manifested itself in 2005, when the then 13-year old premiered Raadsels (Riddle, for solo violin) by Louis Andriessen in the Concertgebouw for the opening of the Holland Festival. She has studied (Bachelor of Music at the New England Conservatory in Boston with James Buswell and Nicholas Kitchen, Masters of Music from the Royal Conservatory of the Hague with Vera Beths) and performed (with Christian Wolff, Alvin Lucier, Gunther Schuller, Chaya Czernowin, George Benjamin, Georg Friedrich Haas, Garth Knox) ever since, exploring her American parents’ background along the way. Among other things, this resulted in Ives’ Fifth, a project around Charles Ives’ Fifth Violin Sonata. After recording the Sonata and Ives’ Piano Trio, S. 86 in 2018 in Muziekgebouw Eindhoven, the CD and dedicated website were launched in early 2020, when Diamanda was on tour with American singer-songwriter Sam Amidon. November 2019 saw the release of Diamanda’s seven-song-collection Beastings, which she composed and performed (on violin and vocals) with text by the English poet SJ Fowler – expect more from this idiosyncratic duo’s collaboration in the near future.
(Photo © Juri Hiensch)
Joost Fonteyne is known as an adventurous programmer with a very broad taste in music. Current social themes such as diversity, gender balance and young talent have been high on his agenda, as can be concluded from his programming at various cultural organizations in Flanders, like arts center Limelight, Happy New Ears, arts center Buda, and especially Wilde Westen in Kortrijk. As the co-founder and director of this genre-crossing music organization, Joost is responsible for Festival van Vlaanderen Kortrijk, which saw its 2020 edition unfold in early March, on the brink of Belgium’s spring lockdown.
From 2021 on, Joost will be the artistic director of Festival van Vlaanderen Brussel (aka Klara Festival), which was badly hit by this year’s Covid-19 crisis. The opening concert, by Brussels Philharmonic and Ute Lemper, took place in front of an empty hall on March 12th. The rest of the festival could not take place due to the acute government measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Through Klara, the Belgian station of choice for lovers of classical, jazz, world music, film music and experimental music (part of V.R.T., the Flemish Radio and Television Broadcasting Company), an alternative programme was offered, however.
Close to its 100th anniversary, the Donaueschinger Musiktage is celebrated as one of the oldest and most prestigious festivals for contemporary music in the world. Seldom a year has been as challenging for its organisation as 2020. After reducing the number of tickets, shortening the duration of concerts, establishing routes and preparing everything else necessary, Björn Gottstein, Artistic Director of the Donaueschinger Musiktage since 2015, wrote in the foreword to his 2020 festival guide: “To plan a festival for music under increased hygiene requirements pushes the concert business to its limits. But of course, the joy of being able to perform and listen to music in public again prevails.” Alas, it was not to be. Just three days before the start of the festival, in view of the new ban on accommodation and the drastically deteriorating Covid-19 infection figures, the organisation saw themselves forced to pull the plug.
Besides working for Donaueschinger Musiktage, Björn is a radio producer for New Music for the public broadcasting channel SWR in Stuttgart, with a background in musicology and music journalism.
(Photo © Hans Kumpf)