• 14 - 17 MAY 2024

Innovation Award Longlist 2019

We are happy to present to you this year’s nominees for the Classical:NEXT 2019 Innovation Award. Each project or person has been singled out by the expert members of the nominating committee for their outstanding profiles from amongst the myriad of other candidates in their respective home countries and across the globe. Longlist, shortlist, public vote - read here how our Innovation Award works.

Our Nomination Committee were given a theme for their selections. They were asked to choose the most outstanding projects celebrating women in music. The focus could be narrow or wide, the connection direct or indirect.



Photo Martynas Aleksa

Ana Ablamonova (Lithuania)

Ana Ablamonova is founder and producer of Operomanija, a production house in Lithuania dedicated to creation and promotion of new music theatre through diverse cross-disciplinary collaborations. Since 2008, she has produced more than 40 contemporary operas and various multidisciplinary art projects, including world-famous opera for 10 cashiers, supermarket sounds and piano "Have a Good Day!". Since 2008, Ana runs Contemporary opera festival NOA (New Opera Action) - one of the leading international new music theatre events in the Baltic region.


Photo Festival En Tiempo Real

Ana María Romano G. - Festival En Tiempo Real (Colombia)

"Festival en Tiempo Real is a space that welcomes proposals where sound is conceived from different elements and built in wide perspectives. It is a festival open to sound art practices of the present and hence invites proposals from living artists whose explorations become works that represent the constant dialogue existing between sound and technology. The festival supports and strengthens creative processes and creative spaces, the distribution, education and research in sound such as: electroacoustics, sound art, improvisation, experimental, circuit bending, internet, noise, interdisciplinarity, among others." Director: Ana María Romano


Asia Society Hong Kong - Alice Mong - Opera Mila (Hong Kong, China SAR)

A key venue for global and local artists since its 2012 opening, ASHK has presented numerous world premieres. Mila, its first commissioned work, had a sold-out run in January 2018 and garnered international coverage in Nikkei Asian Review and Time magazine for both its artistic and social impact.


Photo Manfred Daams

Brigitta Muntendorf (Germany)

Muntendorf is an allrounder: Composer, curator, professor and artistic director. In her interdisciplinary work she focuses on the social and referential aspects of creating music. Topics of the individual, single or communal in the overwhelming sphere of digital culture and condition raise questions of musical function and ability of reflecting the status quo of humans: Where are we? Where do we go?


photo Alberto Venzago

Charlotte Hug (Switzerland)

Charlotte Hug is a musician (viola & voice ), composer, media artist and visual artist. Her musical-visual solo performances are stunning, her sound-drawings Son-Icons are innovative and she created a new genre of multidisciplinary music and art. With her inter-media compositions and room-scores with Son-Icons she offers compositional settings, where intercultural and artistic resources of the musicians can be integrated, flourish and constantly evolve. Excerpts of the collaboration with the Lucerne Festival Academy.


photo Jordan Adams

Claire Edwardes (Australia)

Claire Edwardes is percussionist dedicated to the interpretation, presentation and promotion of the music of our time. She is a virtuoso performer, curator, teacher, and campaigner for the arts. As Artistic Director of Ensemble Offspring she is a driving force in bringing significant new works with a unique Australian twist to the world stage.


photo Erik de Jong

Claron McFadden (Netherlands)

Claron McFadden is an American-born soprano, who’s been living and working in Amsterdam since the mid-eighties. She is equally at home in baroque music and contemporary music, performing works of Bach, Rameau, Alban Berg, Wolfgang Rihm and Louis Andriessen on world stages from Salzburg to Glyndebourne and from Aix-en-Provence to Amsterdam. McFadden, with a background in soul and gospel before she started her classical training, is equally convincing as a night club singer in the Weimar Republic (Groschenblues, with Sven Ratzke), or singing Jacques Brel with Holland Baroque as playing Joanna the Mad (Rob Zuidam’s Rage d’Amour) or the ex-slave and freedom fighter Harriet Tubman (Hilda Paredes’ Harriet). In possession of a mesmerizing stage presence, in the last decade Claron McFadden has started developing her own theatrical music pieces, with much success. Her inspiration is exploring and celebrating what connects people rather than what divides them. With SECRETS, she “gave a voice” to anonymously entrusted secrets and stories of ordinary people, particularly the elderly. And her latest project, NACHTSCHADE: AUBERGINE is the result of her roadtrip around the Mediterranean, learning local songs and recipes inspired by this iconic “culinary migrant”.


photo Heloisa Bortz

Claudia Toni (Brazil)

Brazilian consultant and expert in public arts policy with a long career as manager of cultural institutions, Claudia Toni has worked for more than 30 years in the classical music business in Brazil. She was CEO of Sao Paulo Symphony (Osesp) during its restructure and the opening of Sala São Paulo in the 90s. She has devoted herself since 80s to creating space for the discussion about new perspectives for classical music and its institutions in face of 21st century challenges.


Photo Sihoo Kim

Esmé Quartet (South Korea)

Based in Germany, formed of four South Korean female musicians, violinists Wonhee Bae and Yuna Ha, violist Jiwon Kim, and Cellist Yeeun Heo, the Esmé Quartet made a sensational announcement of their presence on the international stage in April of 2018 by winning the first prize and four special prizes (Alan Bradley Mozart-Prize, Bram Eldering Beethoven-Prize, the ProQuartet and Prize of the Esterházy Foundation) at the prestigious London Wigmore Hall String Quartet International Competition, only after two years since their formation. Recently they were named the HSBC Laureate 2018 of the Festival d'Aix-en Provence, France. Upcoming performances include a concert at the Heidelberg Streichquartettfest 2019, at the Lotte Concert Hall in Seoul and a debut concert at the Lucerne Festival 2019. Praised for their warm sound and powerful stage presence, the Esmé Quartet is also fond of supporting compositions written by female composers. „...it was the Esmé’s monumental performance that was the Michelin-starred meal.” (Strings Magazine, May 2018) Praised for their warm sound and powerful stage presence, the Esmé Quartet is also fond of supporting compositions written by female composers.


Fondation Royaumont (France)

The Voix Nouvelles Academy is open to composers and performers who wants to improve their interpretation of contemporary music. During composing sessions, the academy provides individual and collective lessons, workshops rehearsals, concerts. The academy re-creates the complet process of composition, from the command to the concert.

In My End Is My Beginning (Belgium)

Imago Mundi challenges fixed recital formats by blending the live performance of early and not so early music with video and electronics, fused in a downward spiralling stage dynamic dedicated to ill-fated renaissance queen Mary Stuart. A gripping tale of intolerance, exclusion, exile, and the cathartic effect of music.


InDONNAtiόn (female vocal ensemble) (Greece)

"InDONNAtiόn": A female vocal ensemble (est.2012 by the acclaimed conductor Dimitris Ktistakis) with more than 30 singers in a Municipal platform, presenting several projects yearly. The unique characteristic of "InDONNAtiόn" is the original choreographed approach to choral music in a unique combination of motion and sound (choreographers Faye Soukou and Eleni Markou). The repertoire extends from traditional Greek music to classical songs, pop, rock, gospel, jazz and spirituals. The choir’s latest project was a concert tribute to great Greek women singers. Many contemporary composers are writing new pieces or arrangements for the ensemble itself. The vocal ensemble has worked with classical orchestras, classic ballet dancers, contemporary dancers, jazz/rock musicians, parkourists, modern dance performers and is permanently accompanied by renowned pianist Froso Ast. Ktistaki.

Showcased international acknowledgement with top distinctions at International Choir contests:

  • 1st place & Grand Prize, 3rd Beira Interior International Choir Festival & Competition, Fundao, Portugal, 2018
  • Gold Medal, 3rd European Choir Games / Grand Prix of Nations, Riga, Latvia 2017
  • 1st place & Gold Medal, 1st Corfu International Festival & Choir Competition, 2016
  • Gold Medal, Kalamata International Choir Competition and Festival, 2015


Photo Peter Godfrey-Smith and Yonatan Aljadeff

Jane Sheldon and Jessica Aszodi - Resonant Bodies (Australia)

Jane Sheldon and Jessica Aszodi are Australian-born, internationally-based vocalists individually and collectively devoted to exploring, creating and performing experimental art. They are co-directors of the Resonant Bodies Festival in Australia.


Klassikatähed (Estonia)

Klassikatähed is a TV contest for young classical music performers who put themselves to test in a variety of tasks. Its aim is to bring young talented musicians in front of a wide audience, encourage creativity, find new enthusiasts of classical music, and provide high-quality educational entertainment to viewers. Young classical musicians aged 15–25 who speak Estonian can compete. Competition consists of live shows of six television rounds, a concert round and a gala concert of the finalists at Estonia Concert Hall. With it's four seasons of broadcast in National Television, Klassikatähed has proven to be a unique phenomenon in Estonia, both in classical music and TV field. It has won an approval of music professionals as well as love of wider audience, who are impatiently waiting for it's new season to be aired in spring of 2020. The format was created by Helen Valkna (together with Timo Steiner). Valkna is also producer of the contest (together with Neeme Punder). Klassikatähed is created and produced in co-operation of Estonian Television, Classical Radio and local concert organisation Eesti Kontsert.


Ligia Amadio (Brazil)

The Brazilian conductor Ligia Amadio is currently the director of the Montevideo Philharmonic, in Uruguay. She has held the same post at the National Symphony (Brazil), the Bogota Philharmonic (Colombia) and Mendoza Philharmonic (Argentina). As guest, she has performed throughout Latin America, Europe and Asia. Amadio was the first woman to win an award in 30 years at the Tokyo International Music Competition for Conducting in 1997, and she won the first prize at the II Latin-American Competition for Young Conductors in Santiago, Chile in 1998. She was considered the “Best Conductor of the Year” (2001 and 2011) in Brazil. She was the first woman to conduct several of the orchestras she has worked with. Together with 3 colleagues, she created the International Symposium Women Conductors in 2016, a permanent space of reflection on the role of woman conductors in the professional setting of Classical Music, seeking for mechanisms that allow women conductors to have the same opportunities as their peers. In 2016, the Symposium took place in São Paulo, and in 2018, in Montevideo.


Louth Contemporary Music Society [LCMS] (Ireland)

LCMS is a part-time commitment for those running it, all of whom make their living in other ways. It is fuelled by personal passion and it works by communicating an individual’s musical curiosity and voyages of discovery to a wider audience in a meaningful way.


Photo David Andrako

Luna Composition Lab (USA)

Luna Composition Lab, founded by acclaimed composers Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid with Kaufman Music Center, is a program that addresses the gender imbalance among professional composers. Luna Composition Lab provides aspiring young female, non-binary, and gender non-conforming composers ages 13-19 from across the United States with one-on-one mentorship and bi-monthly Skype lessons with an established female composition mentor, a culminating performance opportunity in New York City, and instant access to a network of professional performers and composers. By connecting young women with established female professionals Luna Lab provides positive role models, fosters confidence, and gives these young women an outlet for unique self-expression. Luna Composition Lab is the only program of its kind in the United States, and was founded in partnership with Face the Music at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City.


Photo Lisa Burke

Lydia Rilling (Luxembourg)

Lydia Rilling, Chief Dramaturg at Philharmonie Luxembourg, is artistic director of the cutting-edge rainy days festival. She has re-imagined the concept of a contemporary music festival as a focused response to pressing cultural themes, offering a multiplicity of audiences - newcomers and specialists alike - a forum to experience and think about concert music in all of its diversity. She co-initiated the red bridge project, which crosses the boundaries between music, dance, visual arts, and film and featured in its first edition choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. As a musicologist, Rilling has edited books on 20th and 21st century music, Gustav Mahler and American music.


Photo Zafyro Giménez

MadWomenFest (Spain)

MADWOMENFEST is much more than a festival, it is a movement led by great women of the Arts and committed to the present to give viability to new models for our future society. And to this adventure have joined very important names of all artistic disciplines and, among them, great women of music. Each activity is linked to a social cause and many of the artistic creations that emerge within the festival are consolidated as pedagogical projects that are later transferred to schools and universities. Art in excellence is the best tool for social transformation and we have decided to demonstrate it through all our activities: MEGACONCIERTO against Gender Violence, MADKIDS IN ART for children in difficult situations, MADWOMEN AWARDS that focus the great women creators of the different artistic disciplines, MADWOMEN EXPERIENCIES and ‘International MadWomenFest Short Stories Contest’ that in its first edition has received more than 800 stories. MADWOMENFEST has been awarded by the Government of Spain and recognized by the United Nations and the European Parliament.

Martha de Francisco (Canada)

Martha de Francisco is recognized as one of the world's leading record producers / recording engineers for classical music. Invited to produce recordings with the most distinguished soloists and symphony orchestras in the world, she is one of the most sought-after music producers in her field. collaborating with some of the world’s most significant performers and recording stars. Her music productions have received close to 70 major recording awards, nominations and distinctions.
She is a tenured professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and a leading researcher in regard to scientific aspects of classical music recording. Her professional outreach is global, as she gets invitations to present conferences, workshops and masterclasses in four continents.


photo Marc Ginot

Marzena Diakun (Poland)

Marzena Diakun has over ten years of experience on the conductors podium. She rapidly gained international acclaim after substituting Mikko Franck for several concerts with Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France during her assistantship in Paris in the 2015/16 season. Since then her carreer started flourishing. She is the second prize winner of two international conducting competitions. Her favourite repertory is music of late XIX and XX century but she gives also many premiers of contemporary music and tries to popularise the music of XX century's polish composers.


Methexis Ensemble - Project "Women Composing in the Balkans" (Greece, in cooperation with Romania)

Women Composing in the Balkans wish to encourage young female composers to introduce their work abroad, rehearse with new musicians and develop a network of young generation interpreters and composers in the Balkan area. The project was firstly addressed through a call for scores to composers from Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, aiming to include more balkan countries in the future. The selected compositions were performed by Methexis Ensemble, consisted of violin, clarinet, accordion and piano, giving prominence to the important role of these instruments in both traditional and contemporary music of the area.


Dr. Milagros O. How (The Philippines)

A competition with a cause, the BANAUE INTERNATIONAL MUSIC COMPOSITION COMPETITION (BIMCC) aims to help save a world heritage treasure through the power of music. The Banaue Rice Terraces has been suffering significant deterioration for years. BIMCC was able (and continues) to generate awareness about the immediate need for restoration. Receiving 84 Banaue-inspired composition entries from all over the world, inviting 20 composer-fellows to visit Banaue for the Immersion Program, and performing 10 of these compositions at the Grand Finals for almost a thousand people were monumental to its success. BIMCC’s Chairperson, Dr. Milagros O. How, regarded as the “Queen of Agriculture Innovation” is also the President of Universal Harvester, Inc. - a major leader in the Philippine fertilizer industry. She always wants to do something great and give back to the farmers.


photo Tero Ahonen

Minna Pensola (Finland)

"A founding member of the string quartet Meta4, Minna Pensola is a violin virtuoso, and performs extensively as a chamber musician and soloist, collaborating with orchestras, conductors and artists from other genres around the world. She was the artistic director of the Sysmä Summer Sounds Festival for six years, and runs aconcert series including a club for classical music in her hometown Helsinki since 2008. She teaches violin at the Sibelius Academy andchamber music at the European Chamber Music Academy (ECMA)."


Minnesota Orchestra in Soweto, South Africa - Photo Travis Anderson

Neeta Helms - Classical Movements(USA)

Neeta Helms of Classical Movements has been a pioneer of cultural diplomacy for more than 26 years. Be it the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Vietnam or the Balkans in the early 1990s, South Africa immediately after apartheid, Iraq during the 2003 invasion or Myanmar this decade, Classical Movements produces trailblazing tours for orchestras and choirs to 145 countries, including the Minnesota Orchestra's recent tours to Cuba and South Africa. Relentlessly pursuing meaningful collaborations—whether with refugees, under-served musicians or overlooked nations—Classical Movements also commissions brand-new music for the world's most celebrated performers and donates to hundreds of organizations and causes that are important to all life on Earth.


Photo Volkan Kovancisoy

Nemeth Quartet (Turkey)

Nemeth Quartet was awarded the ‘Chamber Music Group Of The Year’ prize in 2017 at the prestigous Donizetti Classical Music Awards organized by the music journal Andante. The highly acknowledged quartet is one of the most active string quartets of their homeland, consisting of quality musicians: Gulen Ege Serter (violin), Seniz Aybulus (violin), Elena Unadi (viola) and Mutlu Varlik Kocaili (cello). The quartet is working together since 2013 and named after the tragic loss of their teachers in a traffic accident in 1995, the Hungarian Artists: Istvan Nemeth (violin) and Katalin Nemeth (cello) who introduced them to music. In 2014 Nemeth Quartet won the second price at the ‘International eMuse Music Competition’. The group gave concerts in Sarajevo, Moscow, NewYork, Nicosia, Kyrenia, Frankfurt, Northern Cyprus, Martvili, Buenos Aires. In 2016 as part of the Blue Heart Campaign organized by the UN Office on rugs and crime of the Panama Embassy and the Ministery of Internal Affairs of Panama, Nemeth Quartet was invited as soloists accompanied by the Panama Symphony Orchestra.


photo Alejandro Jandry

Patricia Martínez (Argentina)

Multi-awarded Argentinian/Spanish composer, pianist, performer, interdisciplinary artist, professor, producer and artistic director of Compañía Helada (new opera company), based in Buenos Aires, whose work, in her own words 'has emerged (...) from an experimental process of 'stripping-down' ', leaving as a result a work of extremely vulnerable, yet piercing sonority, able (and most willing) to push the limits of both the word (when thinking mainly of her stage work) and musical discourses.


PRS Foundation - Keychange (UK, international)

"Keychange is a pioneering international initiative which empowers women to transform the future of music and encourages festivals to achieve a 50:50 gender balance by 2022. 60 emerging artists and innovators from across Europe will be invited to international festivals to take part in a series of showcases, collaborations and a programme of creative labs. Backed up by an innovation fund for the network to test new projects and ideas, Keychange aims to accelerate change and create a better more inclusive music industry for present and future generations. Keychange is led by PRS Foundation, supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, in partnership with Musikcentrum Sweden, Reeperbahn Festival, Iceland Airwaves, BIME, Tallinn Music Week, Way Out West, Liverpool Sound City and Mutek. Find out more keychange.eu"


Photo Saara Vuorjoki/Music Finland

Riikka Talvitie (Finland)

Composer, oboist and composition teacher Riikka Talvitie is interested in composition as a collective effort, and wants to open up the composition process to broader discussion, "because even art music has to be of this world and of this time," she says. Her artistically oriented doctorate research focuses on changing the agency of a composer towards dialogical, communal and shared processes. She has actively questioned a traditional role of a mythical composer. "I consciously think composing as an ongoing collaboration." In her recent works she has reflected important current topics like diversity, gender, nationalism, terrorism and sustainable development.


Photo Shervin Lainez

Sarah Kirkland Snider (USA)

Sarah Kirkland Snider is a brilliant composer whose work reflects the highest values of both traditional and forward-thinking composition. She utilizes the full breadth of tools at her disposal, including classical instruments, exemplary independent rock musicians, and the recording and production studio, to fulfill her specific musical needs. Her two orchestral song cycle records, 'Unremembered' and 'Penelope,' whose ambitious and intricately detailed production she directed, are unprecedented in their synthesis of classical and popular recording, mixing, and post-production techniques, and truly bring classical recorded music into the 21st century. Her music has been widely acclaimed in both the classical and popular media, receiving major reviews and performances across the spectrum. Her role at New Amsterdam has allowed her to support the musical visions of many other artists who are in line with her musical worldview, yet come from their own perspectives. She is a true visionary and a model for the "citizen-composer" that we all strive to be.


Ms. Shuang Zou - Beijing Music Festival (China)

Shuang Zou, the newly appointed Artistic Director of Beijing Music Festival is a UK-trained multidisciplinary director and multimedia designer with experience in music, opera, theatre and film, came to the BMF as associate program director in 2016 to promote international collaborations and site-specific opera.


photo Doris Kessler

Simone Keller (Switzerland)

Simone is a classically trained pianist who works with a wide range of socially and culturally diverse groups in the attempt to contribute to world peace through art. She is a co-founder and member of the group ox & öl and has been engaged in art mediation for over 10 years.


photo Graeme MacDonald

sound festival, Aberdeen (Scotland)

"soundfestival is a unique two-week festival of new music in North East Scotland directed by Fiona Robertson. The festival engages with its local community and new audiences by presenting an entertaining and stimulating mix of events bringing together genres and international and local composers and performers in both rural and urban venues. “This is a festival that clinches that most elusive of ideals: it’s a genuine meeting point of community engagement and contemporary music.” (Kate Molleson, The Guardian) “… beyond its serious themes, it’s sound’s disarming mix of the hardcore and the downright fun that gives it a distinctive – and brilliantly charismatic – personality among new music events.” (David Kettle, The Scotsman)"


Marin Alsop and Lina Gonzales, photo Chris Lee

Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship (TCCF) (USA)

The mission of the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship is to mentor, promote, and encourage talented women conductors in the early stages of their professional careers. Our two-year program offers a unique opportunity for women conductors to immerse themselves in the art and business of orchestral leadership under the guidance of world-renown conductor Marin Alsop and is tailored to the specific needs of selected Fellows, providing ongoing artistic mentorship by Marin Alsop and other career professionals. Fellows also receive a yearly stipend to support their participation in our program.


photo Thor Brødreskift / Borealis

Tine Rude and Peter Meanwell - Borealis Festival for Experimental Music (Norway)

"Borealis proves that gender balance is not a far off dream, and shows how festivals can address issues of diversity and equality with artistic integrity.
Presenting new experimental sounds across a whole city, thinking about who gets to be on stage and in the audience, building a space for listening and conversation, Borealis is a space for everyone to engage with radical composition and performance. From new composition and experimental opera to the DIY and Noise communities, the festival tries to flatten hierarchies, and give the audience a journey through different worlds of musical expression."


Photo Suzy Bernstein

Umculo - Shirley Apthorp (South Africa)

South Africans - a huge majority of them living below the poverty line - sing opera. From her home base in Berlin, South African-born music journalist Shirley Apthorp watched the evolution of post-Apartheid South African opera, and decided to found an organisation bringing together European know-how with South African talent and insight. Since 2010, Umculo has produced ten operas in, with, and for South Africa’s disadvantaged communities, using old and new music to tackle such social issues as gender-based violence, crime, corruption and poverty. Social outcomes show growing success, while Umculo’s work wins consistent acclaim for its artistic achievements and courage. European houses can learn from South Africa’s fresh take on historic forms, while South Africa’s underserved communities are quick to accept opera as a necessity, not a luxury; the stage is a safe space to address burning issues. Umculo’s 2019 production “The Gift” will be created by an all-female team from Langa, near Cape Town, addressing the controversial topic of “corrective” rape.


Resonancia Femenina (Chile)

Collective of women in music, Chile. Resonancia collective was born in 2012 in the city of Valparaíso, Chile, as a project that seeks to vindicate the situation and presence of women in music, mainly from the composition, transforming over the years into a platform for dissemination and promotion of work Musical performed by women. The collective came together to create the first phonographic record with works by Chilean composers of the 21st century. In this record there are works by Katherine Bachamnn, Natalie Santibañez, María Carolina López, later they make a record together with Comuarte México and Murmullo de Sirenas España. They have carried out other projects that seek to open spaces for work and appreciation of women musician by establishing the first international gathering of women in Music in Chile, awarding the Añañuca prize to a woman outstanding for her career and musical contribution to the country.