• 27 - 30 SEPT 2021

Innovation Award Shortlist 2020

This is the Shortlist for the Classical:NEXT 2020 Innovation Award. These nominees were named and voted for by the expert members of the nominating committee from the Longlist. Longlist, Shortlist, public vote - read here how our Innovation Award works.

The recipients of the award are determined by an online vote open to the entire Classical:NEXT community, including all delegates who have registered for any of our editions and who are linked via C:N NET. For 2020, the recipients of the Innovation Award will be announced through a live-streamed ceremony on Wednesday, 20 May 2020. The voting is now open.

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Against the Grain Theatre

Against the Grain Theatre, La Bohème (Canada)

In a geographically vast country like Canada, opera is typically only experienced in cities with large opera houses. To help build opera communities across Canada, we need to not only invest in them in the major centres, but in smaller communities as well. Each of the theatre’s events were presented almost exclusively in bars, rather than theatres. Of particular note is the recent La Bohème project, which bar-hopped across rural Canada. This approach is a unique way to make opera accessible and culturally relevant in rural communities.

Reason for nomination: For bringing opera to places where opera hasn’t traditionally been performed, let alone been popular. This makes Against the Grain so essential in Canada.


Flavia Furtado

Flavia Furtado (Brazil)

Flavia Furtado, director of the Amazon Opera Festival, has been working to create a network of opera houses in Brazil, in association with Opera Latino America, to promote a new space for opera, promoting encounters in which professionals share the social, economic and cultural impact of the genre. The novelty of what Flavia Furtado proposes lies in the creation of a new image for the genre, with research into costs and economic and social impacts that help show the meaning opera can have in society. She also fights for institutional, rather than personal, contact between opera houses.

Reason for nomination: For establishing a new connection between opera houses in Brazil, promoting dialogues about the social, economic and cultural impact of opera.


kultursegel education project. Photo by Olbor

kultursegel (Germany)

A young and committed team is developing a conclusive concept to bring culture into the region in a sustainable way and to achieve something locally - with the long-term goal of establishing a cultural and music academy in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The participatory approach includes musical school trips, orchestra flash mobs and mobile music workshops.

Reason for nomination: Professional in organisation and conceptual thinking, kultursegel impresses with its entrepreneurial spirit and its authentic focus on the region.


Liza Lim and Composing Women group

Liza Lim and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Composing Women (Australia)

Despite the seismic developments in recent years, women still face overwhelming challenges in the classical music arena, particularly in composition. Oftentimes exciting works go unheard or, worse, unwritten. Sydney Conservatorium’s Composing Women program targets this problem with two years of mentoring. Creative and performance opportunities empower selected participants, who for 2020 include women of different ages and of colour from a range of artistic practices.

Reason for nomination: This is the only higher-level composition program for women demonstrating a sustained, strategic commitment to change. Liza Lim and the Composing Women program deserves recognition for its strategic vision, resilience and ongoing commitment to excellence. It represents a successful model which could be – should be – adopted far and wide.


Matt Peacock, With One Voice. Photo by Visível

Matt Peacock, With One Voice (UK)

With One Voice began at the time of the London Olympics in 2012, giving the homeless everywhere in the world a voice in music and the arts. It builds up their skills, confidence and sense of community and aims to strengthen the arts and homelessness sector through exchanges in practice and policy. It became an independent organisation in April 2019.

Reason for nomination: There has never been a more crucial time to highlight the needs of the homeless and to celebrate the work of this remarkable organisation, led by Matt Peacock, which harnesses the power of music, theatre and performance to change lives.


Nevis Ensemble

Nevis Ensemble (UK)

Nevis Ensemble is an orchestra that performs entirely away from traditional concert venues: in the street, in homeless shelters, prisons, schools and a multitude of other community settings. The project has already achieved much in its short life, including tours of the Hebrides, a concert at the top of Ben Nevis and establishing relationships with Scottish charities and community groups.

Reason for nomination: Nothing on this scale or with this ambition, or with such a clear set of community objectives combined with a rigorous approach to quality, has been attempted in Scotland and above all, the uncompromising level of performance and focus on breadth of repertoire makes the group stand out.


Armin Seebass showing Partones' substitute material for ebony

Partones - Sustainable sound, Alternative materials for instrument building (Finland)

Many musical instruments traditionally require materials that are now endangered or unsustainable, like ebony, ivory, rosewood, or pernambuco (for bows for stringed instruments) for example. In our era of climate crisis and the decrease of biodiversity, we can no longer afford to ignore the ecological sustainability of instruments. We need alternatives to replace the traditional materials in instrument building. Partones is taking ground-breaking steps forward in this field, designing their materials according to certain three-dimensional structures in the anatomy of wood which can also be applied to materials of animalia in order to achieve durability, workability and acoustical equality of the paragons. The structures that are not present in other composites allow the designers to create a variety of materials according to their differing structure.

Reason for nomination: For addressing an urgent problem and representing the future direction of instrument building.



Récupscène (France)

A real ecological and economical innovation, Récupscène offers theatres and companies the possibility to buy used set elements, lights, audio or video equipment. “Reduce, reuse, recycle” as applied to the world of entertainment!

Reason for nomination: The Récupscène website has a sustainable development dimension, so that rather than storing – and forgetting – theatre and opera set elements, it allows others to take advantage of it. It is entirely dedicated to the world of entertainment and a nomination hopes to inspire others to do the same.


Splendor Amsterdam. Photo by Peter Lodder.

Splendor Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

Splendor is run by a group of 50 musicians and the venue is a second home for them and their public. The 50 core musicians invested €1000 and play at least once a year for the Splendor members. In exchange, the building is theirs – 365 days a year – to create, explore and produce wherever their imagination takes them. The musicians and invested audience members/donors achieve and experience together, both are invested financially in the project and the concerts. It is a true collective and addresses the need for both audiences and musicians to feel included.

Reason for nomination: For showing great ability to survive and thrive (financially and politically) in desperate times. The musicians never cease to pursue their own passions and dreams about music making, while involving audiences to make them part of their inspiring world.


The Symphony Orchestra Simulator. Photo by Jukka Pätynen

The Symphony Orchestra Simulator for Concert Hall Acoustics Research (Finland)

At the core of classical music is a pleasant live music concert experience. We all know, however, that this does not always happen in the modern concert halls – because of the poor acoustics. The research conducted by Tapio Lokki’s team at the Aalto University School of Science broadens our understanding of the importance of concert hall acoustics, showing that acoustics play a significant role in how strongly music is experienced. The method combines psychological phenomena with concert hall acoustics and, above all, may help in the future to design halls that convey the orchestra’s performance of the music to the audience in the best possible way.

Reason for nomination: The symphony orchestra simulator (the loudspeaker orchestra + anechoic symphony orchestra recordings) merged with sensory evaluation methods, originally developed in food and wine industries, is a new and unique method developed by Tapio Lokki’s team.