The fifth Classical:NEXT congress, to be held in Rotterdam on 25-28 May, will kick off with a battery of keynote speeches instead of the traditional solo address.

Hans Rehberg of the Berlin Radio Choir, Chi-Chi Nwanoku of the groundbreaking Chineke! Orchestra (pictured) and, by video link, Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony and artistic director of the New World Symphony Orchestra, are confirmed speakers so far.

Organiser Piranha Arts said that as of 1 March the event had drawn a record 555 participants from 40 countries. Conference speakers will include Tim Stitz of Australia’s Chamber Made Opera, Clemens Trautmann, recently appointed president of Deutsche Grammophon, students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama giving a youth perspective, Vicki Young of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Martin Lopez of the Philippines’ Far Eastern University, Martin Bauer of Teatro Colón and Naxos president Klaus Heymann.

There will be several concerts underlining Classical:NEXT’s theme of music theatre and marking the 50th anniversary of de Doelen, where the event is held.

The shortlist for the Classical:NEXT Innovation Award is:

  • Ensemble Resonanz: Urban String (Germany)
  • Erased Tapes (UK)
  • Human Requiem by Rundfunkchor Berlin (Germany)
  • Mannes School of Music (US)
  • Daisuke Muranaka & Orchestra Afia: Nature and Music (Japan)
  • National Sawdust (US)
  • Nova et Vetera (Colombia)
  • Operadagen Rotterdam (Netherlands)
  • Podium Festival Esslingen (Germany)
  • Tonali Competition (Germany)
  • Van Beethoven – Virtual Reality Orchestra by Los Angeles Philharmonic (US)