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The Next Festival of Emerging Artists Announces its 2021 Virtual Festival: June 8 – July 1, 2021

With Focus on Themes of Entrepreneurship & Business, Social Justice & Activism, Artistry & Musicality, and Multidisciplinary Collaboration

Select Events are Free and Open to the Public with Advance Registration

Additional Masterclasses, Workshops, and Virtual Collaborations with Guest Artists are open to Festival Fellows

The Next Festival of Emerging Artists, founded in 2013 by Artistic Director Peter Askim, announces the schedule of events and guest artist lineup for its 2021 Virtual Festival, taking place June 8 – July 1, 2021. This four-week festival of masterclasses, workshops, and virtual collaborations, featuring esteemed guest artists, will take place online. 25 festival fellows – young musicians, composers, and choreographers, ages 20-30 – will attend the full festival, and select events will be free for the general public to attend (see schedule below). Continuing the Festival’s initiative providing free programs in response to the pandemic’s devastation of the music world, tuition for this year’s virtual festival has been waived for fellows. May 25, 2021 is the deadline for fellow applications, which are available at

Festival events will be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays each week from June 8 to July 1, and the festival schedule will be organized into the following themes: Business & Entrepreneurship (June 8-10), Social Justice & Activism (June 15-17), Artistry & Musicality (June 22-24), and Multidisciplinary Collaboration (June 29-July 1).

The 2021 guest artists include cellist Seth Parker Woods (University of Chicago); composer Gabriela Lena Frank (Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Arts Academy); violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins (Music Kitchen); composer/violist Jessica Meyer; violist Ashleigh Gordon (Castle of Our Skins); Aizuri Quartet; double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku (Chineke!); violinist David Radzynski (Concertmaster, Israel Philharmonic); hornist/composer Jeff Scott (Imani Winds, Oberlin Conservatory); electroacoustic violist/composer Trevor New; pianist Donna Weng Friedman (Heritage And Harmony); conductor Lina Gonzalez-Granados (Unitas Ensemble); composer Derek Bermel (American Composers Orchestra); choreographer S. Ama Wray (UC Irvine), Jonathan Alsberry (Hubbard Street Dance Chicago); choreographer/filmmaker Darshan Singh Bhuller; director/designer Karin Fong (Imaginary Forces); arts attorney Brian Goldstein; Rebecca Bray, Steve Lambert (the Center for Artistic Activism); social media/marketing consultant Jamie Benson; conductor/composer Peter Askim (Next Festival’s Artistic Director); and more. Additional artists offering mentorship and project guidance include percussionist Ross Karre (Artistic Director, International Contemporary Ensemble) and Elaine Grogan Luttrull (founder, Minerva Financial Arts).

Of the four 2021 Next Festival themes, social justice and activism is a key focal point of this year’s festival, building upon the Festival’s 2020 virtual festival, which responded to the incidents of violence and racism that caused pain and division across the country. The 2020 Festival presented a multiplicity of voices throughout its events, including artists whose activism is an integral part of their artistic identities. Some of the 2020 Next Festival alumni have gone on to found projects in these areas and are coming back to present a panel about them this year, including Sam Zagnit of Bass Players for Black Composers; Ana Luna Uribe of Performers for Change; and Jay Julio of Sound Off: Music for Bail. The panel will be moderated by Seth Parker Woods on Tuesday, June 15 at 7:30pm.

Throughout the Festival, events on Tuesdays and Thursdays include guest artists leading workshops, masterclasses, and virtual collaborations, while Wednesdays are devoted to the Composer/Choreographer Workshop, with faculty composer Derek Bermel and choreographer S. Ama Wray. In this laboratory approach, composers, choreographers, dancers and musicians collaborate to develop a common language and create collaboratively in real time, particularly to leverage technology and digital platforms.

While many panels and performances will be available to the public, the Next Festival offers exclusive opportunities to fellows, with the intention of translating an in-person festival to a virtual platform. Mentorship “office hours” maximize fellows’ access to guest artists and create a space for organic conversations and networking, while late night “open mic” sessions provide opportunities for fellows to share works in progress and ideas they are developing.

Schedule of Events, Open to the Public

All times EDT. Eventbrite registration required.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021 | Registration:

4pm-5pm: Business and Entrepreneurship, with Brian Goldstein

Arts attorney Brian Goldstein opens The Next Festival of Emerging Artists 2021 season with a discussion of topics related to the intersection of business, entrepreneurship and law. Focused on issues that face young artists at the beginning of their careers, Goldstein draws on his experience in arts and entertainment law and his commitment to equipping the next generation of artists with the tools they need to have innovative, successful careers. The session will include a Q&A where participants can “Ask the Expert,” part of Next Festival’s commitment to giving young artists access to the tools and mentorship they need to navigate their careers in changing times.

5pm-6pm: Social Media for the Misinformation Age, with Jamie Benson

In this action-oriented lab, Jamie Benson will share innovative new systems for audience growth and engagement that resists misinformation and establishes meaningful relationships with your fans and collaborators. We’ll playfully peel back layers of human psychology and data-driven social media advertising to reveal humans that can be empowered or manipulated. The workshop will include quick-and-dirty tutorials, brainstorming exercises, and on-the-spot community building. Expect to walk away with a flood of new ideas, a small army of allies, and take-home tactics to activate your audience.

7:30pm-8:45pm: KEYNOTE A Performative Rebirth, with Seth Parker Woods

2021 Next Festival Artist-in-Residence Seth Parker Woods will discuss his interdisciplinary works of the last six years from his viewpoint as cellist, curator, director, educator and collaborative artist. A consummate visionary who engages with all aspects of creation, performance and interdisciplinary collaboration, Woods will speak about the multi-pronged stages of creating his performance installation ICED BODIES and solo show Difficult Grace to life, from inspiration to implementation. A Q&A session will follow.

Thursday, June 10, 2021 | Registration:

4pm-5pm: Contracts, with Brian Goldstein

Brian Goldstein, partner in the performing arts and entertainment firm of GG Arts Law, continues his Next Festival “business boot camp” for artists with an exploration of contracts. More crucial than ever in the wake of the pandemic, Goldstein will focus on what to look for, what to ask for, and what to avoid when entering into agreements for performance, commissions, recordings, streaming and more. Participants are encouraged to bring questions for this helpful and informative session.

5pm-6pm: Pivot & Persist: Project Development Masterclass, with Jessica Meyer

Festival fellows will pitch potential projects to composer, violist, and Next Festival Resident Entrepreneurial Artist Jessica Meyer and receive feedback on what it will take to get it off the ground and thrive.

7:30pm-8:45pm: KEYNOTE Citizen Artistry in Action, with Ashleigh Gordon

Since 2013, Castle of our Skins has been operating with a focus on fostering cultural curiosity and a simple mission to celebrate Black Artistry through Music. Join Castle of our Skins Artistic/Executive Director Ashleigh Gordon for a discussion on the role of artists, authentic leadership, and how to be a citizen artist.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021 | Registration:

12pm-1:30pm: Chi-chi Nwanoku and the Creation of Chineke!

Double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE discusses her career as a world-class performer and her work to provide career opportunities for young Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians through the founding of Chineke! Nwanoku states: “My aim is to create a space where Black and ethnically diverse musicians can walk on stage and know that they belong, in every sense of the word. If even one Black and ethnically diverse child feels that their colour is getting in the way of their musical ambitions, then I hope to inspire them, give them a platform, and show them that music, of whatever kind, is for all people.' Join us for this in-depth session with an artist/activist/advocate who has created opportunities in the UK and Europe through the founding of an ensemble which Sir Simon Rattle calls “not only an exciting idea but a profoundly necessary one.”

4pm-5pm: Broadening the Lens of American Music Theory, with Jeff Scott

Jeff Scott (Oberlin Conservatory, Imani Winds) will talk about the need to reimagine how music theory is taught in the American music educational system. Historically limited in scope to a narrow “Eurocentric” tradition, it is more apparent than ever that the status quo is inadequate to cover the wide range of musical styles, traditions, and viewpoints that performers and composers work with today.

5pm-6pm: Equitable Programming for Change, with Lina Gonzalez-Granados

Rising star conductor Lina Gonzalez-Granados discusses her work championing the work of Latin American and other under-performed composers through equitable and imaginative programming and community-centered advocacy. A native of Colombia, she founded the Unitas Ensemble, a chamber orchestra that performs the works of Latinx composers, and provides access to free community performances for underserved communities. Her career includes frequent appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Seattle Symphony and other major international orchestras. Her unique perspectives on on-the-ground advocacy, organizational strategy and programming with integrity will be a great resource for those trying to affect change through the arts.

7:30pm-8:45pm: KEYNOTE PANEL Artistry and Activism: The Next Festival of Emerging Artists Alumni in conversation with Seth Parker Woods

2021 Festival Artist-in-Residence Seth Parker Woods leads a panel discussion with Next Festival alumni who are combining art and activism to create positive change in the world. The event will include performer/founders Ana Luna Uribe (Performers for Change), Jay Julio (Sound Off!: Music for Bail) and Sam Zagnit (Bass Players for Black Composers) discussing their journeys to becoming artist-advocates. From initial conception to overcoming obstacles, the discussion will underscore the valuable work these early-career performers are doing to create a more just society and inspire those who are interested in making their own difference through art.

Thursday, June 17, 2021 | Registration:

4pm-5:30pm: Beyond Raising Awareness: Arts + Activism, with the Center for Artistic Activism

The arts are a powerful force but “raising awareness” won’t cut it anymore when we want real social change. In this workshop you’ll get to use some new methods to come up with strategic ideas for using art and activism, and come away with specific tools and methods you can use in your own social justice work.

7:30pm-8:45pm: KEYNOTE PANEL The Power of Music: Activism Through a Musical Lens, with Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Donna Weng Friedman, Ashleigh Gordon, and Peter Askim

Join artist/activists Ashleigh Gordon (Castle of Our Skins), Kelly Hall-Tompkins (Music Kitchen: Food for the Soul) and Donna Weng Friedman (Heritage and Harmony) for a panel discussion on using art to create change in the world. These three artists/activists join Artistic Director Peter Askim to discuss their work celebrating Black Artistry, bringing great concerts to the homeless, promoting women composers and highlighting artists of Asian descent. A Q&A will follow the panel.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 | Registration:

3:00pm-4:30pm: MASTERCLASS with Artistic Director Peter Askim

Fellows and alumni from The Next Festival of Emerging Artists perform in an interpretation masterclass led by Peter Askim. Askim will work with the young artists to hone their technique and develop their interpretations, drawing his unique perspective as composer, conductor and bassist. Performers and repertoire to be announced.

4:30pm-6pm: MASTERCLASS with Jeff Scott

Fellows and alumni from The Next Festival of Emerging Artists perform in a wind and percussion masterclass led by Jeff Scott. Performers and repertoire to be announced.

7:30pm-8:45pm: KEYNOTE Arts Citizenship, with Gabriela Lena Frank

Composer, pianist and educator Gabriela Lena Frank discusses the interconnectedness of the roles of artist, advocate and citizen in today’s world. She will explore how her creative work is inextricably tied to the founding of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, her mentorship and care for young artists, and her emphasis on the importance of arts- and eco-citizenships.

Dedicated to “inspiring emerging composers to create self-determined artistic lives” while engaging with communities in low arts access areas and practicing climate citizenship, her work is both idealistic and deeply practical. Not to be missed for those who believe that creativity emerges from everything that one is and stands for.

Thursday, June 24, 2021 | Registration:

1pm-2:30pm: MASTERCLASS with David Radzynski

Fellows and alumni from The Next Festival of Emerging Artists perform in a violin masterclass led by David Radzynski. Performers and repertoire to be announced.

4pm-6pm: MASTERCLASS with Seth Parker Woods

Fellows and alumni from The Next Festival of Emerging Artists perform in a cello masterclass led by 2021 Artist-in-Residence Seth Parker Woods. Performers and repertoire to be announced.

7:30pm-8:45pm: Festival Fellows in Concert

A program of solo and chamber music curated and performed by the fellows of The Next Festival of Emerging Artists. Deeply individual and artistically inspiring, experience performances by the next generation of artists in this unique event showcasing their passions, talents and artistry. Catch them here while you can – before they’re famous! Performers and repertoire to be announced.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021 | Registration:

4pm-5pm: Stepping with Resonance, with S. Ama Wray & Derek Bermel

Led by Composer/Choreographer Workshop faculty S. Ama Wray and Derek Bermel, this creative performance/workshop involves interaction and a sense of play with the audience. Be drawn into a creative process that explores the nexus between feeling and reason—sensory & synesthetic.

5pm-6pm: A Joyful Process, with Jonathan Alsberry

This last year has brought technology and collaboration to the forefront of all of our artistic practices. Jonathan Alsberry will focus this talk on the creative process, sharing insight on various projects that yielded international original music compositions, social justice collaborations, and process centered work geared toward community building and creative stamina. He looks forward to sharing these experiences and a further conversation about how we bring this new energy with us into the future with joy and patience.

7:30pm-8:45pm: KEYNOTE The Intersection of Choreography & Film: Darshan Singh Bhuller, with S. Ama Wray

Dancer, teacher, artistic director, filmmaker, and choreographer: the multi-faceted artist Darshan Singh Bhuller joins The Next Festival of Emerging Artists Composer/Choreographer Workshop faculty S. Ama Wray in a conversation about his work at the intersection of multiple fields. Part of the Festival’s focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, this deep-dive into Bhuller’s work will underscore his ability to transcend labels and to embody the Next Festival ideal of the complete artist. A session sure to enlighten and inspire all artists to think big and think bold!

Thursday, July 1, 2021 | Registration:

4pm-5pm: Licensing, Copyright, and Interdisciplinary Collaboration, with Brian Goldstein

Arts attorney Brian Goldstein concludes the Festival’s week focused on interdisciplinary collaboration with a talk on often overlooked aspects of collaborative work: licensing and copyright. The session will dispel the confusion behind these often mysterious aspects of performing, recording and streaming with an easy-to-understand overview and deep dive into details all artists should know. The culmination of Goldstein’s Next Festival “business boot camp,” the workshop will leave you well-informed and ready to collaborate!

5pm-6pm: Portals and Possibilities, with Karin Fong

A fitting conclusion to the Festival’s focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, this talk by Emmy Award-winning director and designer Karin Fong will inspire all artists to think beyond the limitations of their training and individual disciplines.

A Creative Director at Imaginary Forces in Los Angeles, Fong will discuss the creative and collaborative process behind making evocative sequences for Film and TV. Renowned for her ability to instantaneously conjure entire worlds through images and sound, she will demonstrate how seemingly small decisions can create a transformative experience for audiences and empower artists to imagine an even more expansive vision of their art. Using examples from her work, she will chart a path toward embracing metaphor, storytelling, visual puns and the merging of sound and image in re-inventing the future of our art forms!

7:30pm: Festival Finale Performance

Join the artists, fellows and faculty of The Next Festival of Emerging Artists for a triumphal conclusion to the 2021 season! The Festival Finale will feature performances by the Aizuri Quartet of composer fellows, creative collaborations by festival participants and violist/composer Trevor New, and the conclusion of the collaborative Composer/Choreographer Workshop led by S. Ama Wray and Derek Bermel.

The culmination of collaborative workshops held over the course of the 2021 Festival, the program will take you into the creative and collaborative processes of fellows and faculty, revealing creative and innovative solutions to the challenges of collaboration from a distance. Using the lessons learned from fifteen months of leveraging technology to create human connection, the Festival Finale will be a fitting conclusion to the pandemic and celebration of the future in all senses!

About The Next Festival of Emerging Artists

Founded in 2013 by composer, conductor and bassist Peter Askim, The Next Festival of Emerging Artists is committed to advancing contemporary concert music through performance, audience engagement, and the nurturing of emerging artists with a passion for 21st century music.

The Festival provides young performers and composers (ages 20-30) an immersion into 21st century music. Initially a one-week intensive, the Next Festival is now a multi-week experience comprising performances, individual lessons, coaching, masterclasses, and more. Twenty participating string players begin at historic Music Mountain in Falls Village, Connecticut, creating their own programs of study and performing there and in New York City at prominent new music venues such as (le) poisson rouge and National Sawdust, with composers in attendance. The Festival also includes workshops and recordings of student compositions, and multi-disciplinary collaboration and improvisation with choreographers and dancers.

In recent years, the Next Festival has featured some of the most prominent figures in new music today: guest artists including Tony Arnold, Matt Haimovitz, Jennifer Koh, Nadia Sirota, Richard Thompson, Jeffrey Zeigler, Miranda Cuckson, and the string quartet ETHEL; and composers including Aaron Jay Kernis, Derek Bermel, Lisa Bielawa, Liisa Hirsch, Pierre Jalbert, Phil Kline, Jessica Meyer, and Aleksandra Vrebalov; as well as choreographer Christopher D’Amboise. The Festival’s concerts have drawn capacity audiences and have been featured on WQXR/Q2’s New York Now, and in 2018 the Festival was featured for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Festival was awarded the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award in the Performance of American Music and was also recognized by the Vytaytas Marijosius Memorial Award in Orchestral Programming.

At the onset of the pandemic, the Next Festival made a radical pivot to offer 100% of its programming online, free of charge, with an emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, and helping artists in a time of need. The Festival introduced a groundbreaking series of virtual offerings called Next Fest Connects with the goal not only to serve artists and audiences through relevant, timely programming, but also to compensate artists for their expertise and artistry. Next Fest Connects features masterclasses on contemporary music, workshops on navigating career challenges during COVID, and more. The Festival became virtual for 2020 and 2021, presenting over 35 guest artists and thought leaders, including Pulitzer, Grammy and MacArthur honorees, all tuition-free and with many events open to the public. Almost overnight, the Next Festival’s constituency has expanded nearly tenfold, from an intimate group of artists and audiences to an international community of students, professional musicians, and individuals who have been inspired by the power of music during a dark time.

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