February 18, 2021 · 3 minutes reading time

Backstage: concert programmer Jorinke van Deelen talks about the Young Musician Week

· text Liesbeth Houtman (translation: Eileen Stevens) , photo Jop Starmans

From 22 to 28 February, The Concertgebouw will organise the Young Musician Week, featuring seven days of streamed concerts, both new and previously recorded. Jorinke van Deelen, programmer, has been closely involved. ‘Thanks to the Corona crisis, many talented young musicians have missed out on important debuts.’

Share this article

Code red. But this time, it wasn’t Corona that threw a spanner in the works, but a thick blanket of snow. ‘That was the Monday when we had planned to make the recordings for the Young Musician Week,’ van Deelen explains. ‘The roads were totally blocked. So we had to reschedule the recording sessions. Such a relief that we managed to pull it off.’

Van Deelen has spent ten years working in The Concertgebouw’s programming department. She invites the musicians, fine-tunes the programmes, and handles negotiations for such series as Classical Masterpieces. She also coordinates the Rising Stars Tour for the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO), a collaboration between renowned European concert halls. ‘Trying to coordinate concert dates in all those concert halls is a real puzzle.’

During the pandemic, the rescheduling and cancelling of concerts has become a daily routine. ‘We wait to see which measures the government will impose and if the lockdown will be extended. Only then can we cancel concerts.’ After almost a year, she’s still not used to it. ‘Every time I have to cancel one of the musicians, it hurts.’

‘Every time I have to cancel one of the musicians, it hurts’

That’s why van Deelen is so pleased with the streamed concerts The Concertgebouw has been organising since the lockdown. They always go ahead, or at least, as long as there’s not a snowstorm. ‘I arrange the classical programming for the Empty Concertgebouw Sessions. It’s great that, with the support of our lead sponsor, Van Lanschot Kempen, we can still do something for both the audience and the musicians. That makes my work more fulfilling, as well.’

According to van Deelen, the idea for the Young Musician Week was broached during a brainstorming session with colleagues from the online team. ‘The Concertgebouw is part of Classical Futures Europe, a platform uniting many European concert halls. We get together to share ideas and information about young talented musicians. The EU grants the platform funds for putting young European musicians on stage in venues like The Concertgebouw. But many of those projects were cancelled because of government restrictions and travel limitations. Classical Futures Europe then suggested we do something for talented young musicians closer to home.’

‘We decided to make the recordings in various areas of the building’

Our local talent can easily rise to the challenge. For the newly streamed concerts, van Deelen has snared none other than recorder player Lucie Horsch, pianist Yang Yang Cai, and cellist Alexander Warenberg. ‘All three will present a ten-minute solo programme. They were super-enthusiastic from the start and came up with some beautiful repertoire proposals. We decided to make the recordings in various areas of the building. Lucie will play in the Recital Hall, Yang Yang in the Choir Hall, and Alexander in the Balcony lobby. We will also be streaming an Empty Concertgebouw Session from the Main Hall with three additional up-and-coming musicians: violinist Noa Wildschut, soprano Laetitia Gerards, and pianist Thomas Beijer.

‘All these streams will be made available in the same week to heighten the focus on young musicians’

‘All these streams will be made available in the same week to heighten the focus on young musicians,’ says van Deelen. That's attention they sorely need. ‘We try wherever possible to offer the musicians a replacement concert date. But unfortunately, because of the enormous number of concerts we have had to cancel these past months, that’s not always possible. Many talented young people have missed out on important debuts because of the pandemic. They are just marking time when they should be furthering their careers or making an important breakthrough. But it’s a shame for audiences as well that they miss the chance to become acquainted with the stars of tomorrow. With the Young Musician Week, we hope to offer these young performers a platform.’

‘With the Young Musician Week, we hope to offer these young performers a platform’

The Online Sessions have been an overwhelming success. ‘The reactions on Facebook come from all over the globe.’ That's exactly how local talent becomes international talent. Van Deelen is looking forward to the Young Musician Week. And she has a useful tip. ‘At home, we’ve hooked up our TV to good speakers. What a difference that makes! The sound quality is so much better. So even at home, everyone can recreate some of that concert-hall feeling.’

We encourage you to order your concert tickets using a different browser. Please use Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge or Internet Explorer version 10 or higher.