What’s next for a winner?
While there are countless jazz competitions around the world, all with similar prizes to be won, the new Laureates Festival in Amersfoort stands out above the rest by offering prizewinning musicians the perspective of an international career.
In many countries, not only classical music but also jazz and world music are acknowledged as valuable art forms. This recognition is evident in highly developed music programs and schools which guide and train young musicians along a path leading to a music conservatory. Completing such a thorough music training proves that a musician is competent in their craft and ready to begin their professional career, however, it certainly doesn’t guarantee that they will ‘make it’. One of the ways musicians try to boost their careers or gain recognition in their field is by participating in a music competition or talent search. Nearly every modern country around the world has at least a few national music competitions, which may be focused on providing opportunities for a certain age group, music genre or instrument. There are very specific selection criteria and a group of ‘experts’ selected as the jury to determine the outcome of the competition. After a few rounds, participants are narrowed down to a few finalists. Contestants making it to this stage have all proven themselves talented and capable musicians, but there can only be one chosen as the winner, a choice which often seems quite arbitrary. This is the nature of these contests, which isn’t a problem in and of itself. The process and experience of being part of such contests can lead to invaluable growth for the artist. The big question to be asked about such national talent searches and the winning musicians is “What’s next?”
What is the next step for the winner of a competition? They receive money, their moment in the spotlight, some coveted master training and perhaps even the opportunity to go on tour, but this generally all takes place in their home country. It’s very seldom that winning a national talent competition has any impact on an artist’s international career. While certain competitions such as the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in New York, the Martial Solal Competition in France, or Montreux Jazz Competition in Switzerland have international recognition and prestige, the winners of these competitions generally only enjoy success back in their own countries.
In an effort to promote international careers for renowned contest winners, Sena Perfomers, JazzNL, and the Ntb have organized the Sena Performers International Jazz Laureate Festival which takes place from June 9-11, 2017. This is a forum where finalists from Jazz and World music competitions worldwide can perform for and network with festival directors from around the globe. The purpose of this festival is to foster international careers by creating an environment where talented competition winners can establish global connections, and begin meaningful collaborations through an exchange of talents.
The festival has already received positive reactions. Andre Le Roux, managing director of South African Music Rights Organization (SAMRO) sees this initiative as the beginning of a long-lasting collaboration. “The Laureates Festival will serve as an extension of our SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition. This festival creates an opportunity for our scholarship winners to make an international breakthrough and participate in important master classes”. Currently, there are 20 international and 15 national festivals signed up to be part of this fresh new initiative.
Performances and more...
The festival takes place in Amersfoort, alongside the Amersfoort Jazz Festival. All the concerts are free to the public. Friday, June 9th is opening night in The Lieve Vrouw Theater and on Saturday, June 10th and Sunday, June 11th there will be various concerts by Laureates on stages throughout Amersfoort. Additionally, there will be a collective networking program where prizewinners can personally meet and get in contact with international festival programmers. JazzNL already began laying the foundation for this festival last year by presenting the idea to a group of international festival directors and competition organizers during a two-day long conference. The participants at the conference were very enthusiastic about the Laureates festival and nearly all of them wanted to join the initiative. From the Netherlands, the Dutch Jazz Competition, the Princess Christina Concours, and the Grachten Festival have already made the commitment to be part of the new Laureates Festival.