• 17 - 20 MAY 2022

Innovation Award Longlist 2021

We are happy to present to you this year’s nominees for the Classical:NEXT 2021 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.



Carlotta Libonati (viola) at the Orange Garden, Rome. Photo by Sabrina Harm.

1:1 CONCERTS by Stephanie Winker, Franziska Ritter & Christian Siegmund (Germany)

Nominated by Hartmut Welscher

The 1:1 CONCERTS feature a 10 min. non-verbal encounter between one listener and one musician, accompanied by a host. Whether the concert attendees hear a saxophone, a kora or a baroque flute, will come as a surprise. Also, the music is chosen on the spot. The format even explores extraordinary venues such as an art gallery, an empty factory hall or an allotment garden. With more than 6000 concerts around the world, 1:1 CONCERTS support different solidarity projects with the listeners‘ donations.

Reason for nomination: More than ever, people are in need of genuine personal contact and a directly shared musical experience. 1:1 CONCERTS have created an opportunity for an authentic concert experience.

Photo by BBC

An Easter Celebration by Tenebrae Choir (UK)

Nominated by Steve Long

An Easter Celebration in music with the professional chamber choir Tenebrae. 20 singers recording a 25-minute musical performance from home but remotely recorded in audio and video and then created into a TV broadcast for BBC TV.

Reason for nomination: What makes this recording unique is that it was recorded remotely to the highest standards required for broadcast on a national broadcaster (BBC TV), so not just for streaming on YouTube. The technical and musical challenges were overcome to deliver a programme that was of the quality that would have been expected, pre-COVID.


Conexão Heliópolis (Heliópolis Connection) by Instituto Baccarelli (Brazil)

Nominated by João Luiz Sampaio

The Baccarelli Institute is a non-profit organisation in Brazil that offers music education for 1,200 kids in Heliópolis, where it has formed the first symphony orchestra in the world in a slum. For the institute, music is a tool for personal development and empowerment of young people, which leads to a more diverse musical world. Heliópolis is one of the poorest neighborhoods of Latin America. During the pandemic, they raised money to help this community, organised a structure to offer online activities and created a series of 150 digital masterclasses for musicians across the entire country.

Reason for nomination: During the pandemic, Heliópolis faced financial difficulties. So Instituto Baccarelli became a centre for the distribution of food. They also implemented a program to keep teaching music for children.


Deep Relaxation vol. 6: Sound Isolation by Mikołaj Laskowski (Poland)

Nominated by Monika Pasiecznik

Mikołaj Laskowski belongs to the generation of composers brought up in the 1990s, in the era of transition from analog to digital media. In his work, he deals with the soundscape of this decade. He explores the internet, which is his source of sound material, but also composition methods and aesthetics. Irony and nostalgia, electronic kitsch and sophisticated instrumental sounds, ubiquitous sampling and Internet plunderphony combine references to New Age aesthetics.

Reason for nomination: In Deep Relaxation vol. 6: Sound Isolation, the composer has created an interactive therapeutic session playing music together with the listener via the internet.


Concert at Temple of Aphaia. Photo by Giannis Koukouzis

(Dis)playing Attica by Athens State Orchestra (Greece)

Nominated by Dionyssis Mallouhos

The ASO is the leading Greek symphonic ensemble. Its track record includes collaborations with the most famous conductors/soloists and a well-established social awareness dimension. (Dis)playing Attica is a series of digital concerts (with ASO ensembles) held in monuments and at other emblematic locations, in collaboration with Attica Prefecture, under the support of the Council of Europe, displaying the unique relationship that music can achieve in an environment that highlights universal cultural values.

Reason for nomination: The project, (Dis)playing Attica, demonstrates a successful transition of a classical orchestra, adopting a new mindset to best overcome the difficulties presented during the COVID period by engaging innovative multi-art approaches in performance, production and relationship with its audience.


ENO Drive & Live La Bohème. Photo by Lloyd Winters. Courtesy of English National Opera

ENO Drive & Live by English National Opera (UK)

Nominated by Jessica Duchen

Devised especially to provide socially-distanced live performances in the midst of the pandemic last summer, ENO Drive & Live was a production of 'La Boheme' staged at Alexandra Palace with drive-in audience in their cars.

Reason for nomination: This project absolutely caught the enthusiasm of the public. It seemed to think of all potential problems with the format and solve them in advance. The performances, moreover, were top quality.


hiberNATION Festival of the Lo Fi by Damian Barbeler (Australia)

Nominated by Harriet Cunningham

HiberNATION is an online festival for sharing lo-fi, intimate, roughly-produced, experimental projects by artists at home with too much time on their hands. It was developed by composer and educator Damian Barbeler at the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown. Damian and the creative team of Liam Mulligan and Elizabeth Jigalin enabled composers, sound artists and performers to embrace hiberNATION as a playground and a new space to perform, as well as a much needed support network and a learning resource for creators adapting their practice to our digital future.

Reason for nomination: With hiberNATION, Damian Barbeler has established a space which encourages boundless creativity within the confines of a pandemic, using imagination, humour and accessible technology.


Daniel Hope at Home@Hope. Photo by Daniel Waldhecker

Hope@Home by Daniel Hope (Germany)

Nominated by Lorena Jiménez

Launched by violinist Daniel Hope, Hope@Home is a new television series on ARTE for our socially distanced times. Professionally produced from Hope's Berlin living room - live from the lockdown - with remote cameras and microphones, this unique series comprises several episodes of live musical performance by leading classical artists, featuring also special local guests.

Reason for nomination: My nomination goes to Daniel Hope for his innovative, unique, professional and outstanding livestream format Hope@Home, offering world-class home music-making with high quality recorded sound.


Photo by Giovanni Daniotti

#Istayathome – #Iplayforyou! by Divertimento Ensemble (Italy)

Nominated by Gianluigi Mattietti

The Divertimento Ensemble was founded in 1977 by renowned soloists, conducted by Sandro Gorli, attaining considerable success both in Italy and abroad, with over 1,500 concerts and 20 CDs to its credit to date. The ensemble’s commitment to education and promotion of young people’s creativity led to the foundation of IDEA, International Divertimento Ensemble Academy, in 2017. In 2012, it became part of the European network Ulysses. In 2015, it won the XXXIV Italian music critics’ Franco Abbiati Prize.

Reason for nomination: During the COVID emergency, the Divertimento Ensemble opened a virtual stage, with young performers playing contemporary music. The project involves the audience, who can vote for the best musician from home.


Ju Percussion Group by Tzong Ching JU (Taiwan)

Nominated by Joshua Sun

Mr. Ju founded the world-renowned percussion ensemble, and extended percussion to the cross-border field, enjoying a worldwide reputation. The well-known percussionist, who has played a significant role in enhancing the wide interest in percussion music in Taiwan over the last three decades, and the popularity of percussion music in Taiwan owes a great deal to Mr. Ju for his pioneering efforts in music education. Mr. Ju is also the chairman of the National Performing Arts Center, overseeing the three major performance venues in Taiwan. The Ju Percussion Group has played in 34 different countries with more than 3,000 performances and cultivated almost 150,000 percussion learners. The growth of the Ju Percussion Group is a reflection of the development of contemporary percussion on the island of Taiwan.

Reason for nomination: The Ju Percussion Group focused on connecting the local community together through online videos, and online courses. The characteristics of the Ju Percussion Group is rather inspiring. During the difficult times, the group continued to collaborate with local composers, producing brand new percussion music, creatively crossing over with drama and dance, creating a new form of percussion art.


Kultūra į kiemus (Culture to the Yards) (Lithuania)

Nominated by Lina Navickaitė-Martinelli

During the first lockdown (Spring 2020), “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” together with the community program “Fluxus Labas” have launched a project called “Culture to the Yards” devoted to bringing back such feelings as the thrill of anticipation of the live concert, the direct connection between the performers and the listeners/spectators around them. These experiences of sharing, as well as delivering culture, were brought straight to the yards surrounded by apartment blocks.

Reason for nomination: Valuable as bringing professional art to open spaces and as a chance for culture and entertainment-hungry residents to spend meaningful time and gain positive emotions during the challenging period.


L'enfant et les sortileges by Vopera (UK)

Nominated by David Kettle

Brilliant, wildly inventive online reimagining of Ravel's opera, using singers' own recordings of their roles recorded at home, plus new reduced orchestration, melded together into a magical production that comments very movingly on our COVID times.

Reason for nomination: Ambitious use of technology to combine individual video/audio recordings into a convincing whole; the transformation of COVID challenges into creative opportunities in a very relevant production.


Bang On a Can Live Online Marathon

Live Online Marathon by Bang on a Can (USA)

Nominated by Mauricio Pena

Bang on a Can recognised in March of 2020 that they needed to shift EVERYTHING, and fast. They began to brainstorm on how best to keep musicians working and paid, and to keep audiences engaged. They turned to the place where it all began for us - the Bang on a Can Marathon. They quickly learned the tools necessary to stream performances from people's homes and studios, and to engage with thousands of viewers worldwide. In this new virtual world they have been able to curate more widely than ever. The breadth of composition, creativity, and performance has been astounding. Over 150 performances, 62 world premieres of new commissions, over 160 composers and performers. And they are just getting started.

Reason for nomination: Bringing together people around the world through new music performed live online, finding the strength of not staying put and believing in audiences' curiousity and interest in new experiences.


Melbourne Digital Concert Hall by Chris Howlett and Adele Schonhardt (Australia)

Nominated by Harriet Cunningham

Melbourne Digital Concert Hall (MDCH) is a ticketed livestreaming platform created by Chris Howlett and Adele Schonhardt. Launched on 27 March 2020, MDCH presented 240 concerts nationally in its first nine months, generating over $1 million AUD for musicians and arts workers who’d lost everything through COVID-19. With core partners 5stream, Kawai Australia and the Athenaeum Theatre, MDCH now broadcasts live from venues around the country, passing on all ticket revenue to the artists themselves.

Reason for nomination: Since March 2020, MDCH has presented 350+ musicians in 175+ concerts, generating over $750,000. A game-changing model, it gives agency to artists and audiences. COVID will end but MDCH will continue.


Soloist Julie Lumsden at Lake Louise, Alberta. Photo by Daniel Thomson

Messiah/Complex by Against the Grain Theatre (Canada)

Nominated by Michael Vincent

Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) promotes opera and classical music to a new generation, presenting modern and accessible productions in collaboration with relevant artists and venues throughout Canada. With boldness in their vision, they bring music from every region of Canada's vast and interconnected country — while celebrating the artists’ uniqueness and talent.

Reason for nomination: For bringing people together during a difficult year: AtG streamed a reimagining of Handel's Messiah across Canada, with the aim of amplifying and highlighting underrepresented voices at a time we needed it most.


METAmorph by Darkroom Contemporary Dance Theatre (South Africa)

Nominated by Matthijs van Dijk

Darkroom Contemporary is a modern dance collective that merges dance with various forms of new technology (from VR to kinetic motion sensor technology), film and contemporary/experimental music. The composers commissioned to create the score for each channel of METAmorph were Brydon Bolton, Matthijs van Dijk, Shane Cooper, Mr Sakitumi. Concept & Direction: Inka Kendzia & Louise Coetzer.

Reason for nomination: For their 2020 season, designed for audiences stuck at home, by creating software & productions incorporating live online viewer participation, effecting performances in real time, melding art & play.


Online Concerts by Santiago Cañón-Valencia (Colombia)

Nominated by Mauricio Pena

Santiago Cañón-Valencia does not settle for tradition or conform to the easiest path. During the 2020 lockdown, he was invited by different institutions to record videos of him performing solo. However, he took these invitations as an opportunity to go deeper into his interest in video and produce compelling audiovisual pieces that not only documented his cello playing or the musical qualities of the works, but that are -in and of themselves- artistic music videos that expose not only his artistry as a cello player but his understanding and readiness to engage with audiences via audiovisual narratives. The self-recorded, self-edited, self-produced videos present the world with a cellist with the qualities required of a 21st century musician, and thus as a model for future performers.

Reason for nomination: His interest in audiovisual media produced more than expected: visually compelling pieces that complemented and enriched the musical experience of listening to composers ranging from Bach to Pärt.


Questo è tutto and Proesie by Francesco Filidei (Italy)

Nominated by Gianluigi Mattietti

Born in Pisa and having graduated from the Florence Conservatory, Francesco Filidei, completed his music studies in Paris, where now lives. Invited to the most important contemporary music festivals, he received commissions from international orchestras and opera theatres. Active in teaching, in 2016, he was named Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. He gained big success with the operas Giordano Bruno and L'inondation. Filidei’s works are published by Rai Com and Ricordi.

Reason for nomination: Interesting COVID music experiments: Questo è tutto is a choir piece to be performed live on Zoom; Proesie are mini-videos on Facebook for soprano describing the psychological impact of the quarantine.


Greek National Opera at Roman Agora of Athens in July 2020. Photo by A. Simopoulos

The COVID Era - Greek National Opera (GNO) (Greece)

Nominated by Dionyssis Mallouhos

GNO is one of Europe's most innovative opera houses with a unique artistic identity that engages global talents and inspires large and diverse audiences. Having the need to reach out inscribed in the core of its identity, GNO dealt with the pandemic resourcefully, by creating GNO TV for online streaming of its performances, presenting online festivals with new content, commissioning new works, giving stage performances at archaeological sites and adapting its program to the new challenges.

Reason for nomination: Using brand new tools, such as GNO TV, the GNO launched a new high-standard opera and developed co-productions with other big European lyric theatres. The GNO overcame the COVID crisis by keeping its relationship with the public alive through diverse and versatile content that targets a younger, more-digitally trained audience.


Skin. Photo by Genevieve Reeves

these bones, this flesh, this skin by Scottish Ensemble (UK)

Nominated by David Kettle

Scottish Ensemble strives to put collaboration at the heart of its activities and this new project brought together artistic director/violinist Jonathan Morton, composer Martin Suckling, choreographer Joan Clevillé (Scottish Dance Theatre) and cinematographer Genevieve Reeves in a new interactive music/dance/film work for solo violin and solo dancer, exploring themes of time, memory and attention. Through the bespoke online platform, the viewer is invited to combine different audio and visual layers to create their own experience.

Reason for nomination: This is a provocative creative response to the limitations of COVID: it's a work that harnesses the opportunities of digital and can only exist in that medium.


The beauty that still remains

To My Distant Beloved and The Beauty that Still Remains by On Site Opera and Eric Einhorn (USA)

Nominated by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim

Eric Einhorn leads one of the most innovative opera companies in New York City. Before COVID, On Site Opera put on vibrant productions in unusual spaces that spoke to the work: Gregg Kallor's "Sketches from Frankenstein" in the catacombs of a historic cemetery; Mozart's "Finta Giardiniera" in a community garden or "Amahl and the Night Visitors" in a Manhattan soup kitchen. Always more than a gimmick, these locales enhanced the experience of opera as an immersive multi-sensory adventure. "To My Distant Beloved" delivered opera through an intimate chain of emails and live one-on-one, phoned-in performances. "The Beauty that Still Remains" did so by mail with gorgeous, tactile diaries.

Reason for nomination: Both projects acknowledged the COVID-induced loneliness of the classical concert-goer and alchemized it into a new relationship to the performer that was personal, conspiratorial and quietly cathartic. "To My Distant Beloved" was especially good at giving the listener that rare and precious feeling: of being seen.


La serva padrona

Trilogy of Quotidian Operas in Quarantine by Unreal Stage Producciones (Chile)

Nominated by Romina de la Sotta Donoso

In the face of the public health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19, the independent company Unreal Stage Producciones developed an innovative format with media and digital tools, to offer a trilogy of operas by streaming, with 30 free online performances of each one. The plots of ‘La serva padrona’, ‘The Telephone or L'Amour à trois’ and ‘Il maestro di cappella’ were adapted to reflect Chile’s pandemic reality and current social issues, such as racism, classism, machismo, and social inequity.

Reason for nomination: The project offers free access to operas in an innovative format, adapting its plots to the pandemic reality in a country where tickets to full productions – all, very conservative - are highly expensive.


Photo by Javier del real

Verdi's Traviata by Teatro Real (Spain)

Nominated by Lorena Jiménez

The Teatro Real is considered the leading institution of the performing arts in Spain, the foremost national opera house and one of the most important Spanish cultural institutions. The theatre also enjoys significant international prestige.

Reason for nomination: With this Traviata with red lines that divided the stage into-2 metre boxes, the Teatro Real offered an innovative staging by using the COVID protocols to create a new production for today’s times.


Sing gently

Virtual Choir 6 - Sing Gently by Eric Whitacre (USA)

Nominated by Steve Long

Eric Whitacre has been making virtual choirs for 10 years but VC6, done under COVID was his largest to date with over 17,500 singers from 120+ countries. This was the largest virtual choir ever put together. The tech that went into the creation was mind bending regardless of COVID and Eric’s pioneering ways have led to the proliferation of many similar projects this year.

Reason for nomination: Even not under COVID, making a film from so many different countries and sources would have required unparalleled tech and innovation, but to do it under COVID is just mind bending.