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Grachtenfestival Amsterdam the music platform for young musicians

The Grachtenfestival (‘Canal Festival’) is centred around music. A festival for all and for every budget. At the park, in the square and on the canals. The main focus is on young musicians. The Grachtenfestival aims to give young musicians the opportunity to develop.

The year 2022 represented Grachtenfestival’s silver jubilee. For 25 years, it has been helping young talent launch and develop their careers. They have been carefully selected by a dedicated team. This team attends a number of different conservatories, concerts, competitions as well as orchestras. The Grachtenfestival also organises other activities designed to stimulate classical music and jazz. One such example is in awarding winners of talent development programmes a place on stage. This ensures a wealth of possible synergies and collaborations.

2022 Winner

The winner of the Grachtenfestival Prize 2022 was 20-year-old pianist Nikola Meeuwsen. The jury said the young pianist stood out because of his crystal-clear musical thinking. ‘Silence and movement merge brilliantly throughout the performance. His thought process is pure poetry.’ The Grachtenfestival Prize winner will be given the coveted title of artist in residence. This gives the musician total artistic freedom to curate the next Grachtenfestival festival. It was in 2022, that the young cellist Alexander Warenberg performed the opening concert at Amsterdam’s Sloterplas as that year’s artist in residence.

Prize winner Nikola Meeuwsen

What the Grachtenfestival Prize means

‘For me, the Grachtenfestival Prize really sets things in motion. One’s reputation grows. It opens doors at concert halls. The prize inspires me to work even harder and to develop myself to the maximum. For example, there are musicians that I would like to be able to perform with some day. There are particular musical pieces I want to play. As an artist in residence,
I will have the freedom to curate part of next year’s festival without outside interference. Based solely on my creativity. In fact, I could choose to invite musicians from the Netherlands and abroad, or just choose a piano recital. Anything is possible. For a musician, it is always uncertain as to whether you can ever realise your ideas. Now I have that possibility. I have total carte blanche. That is really cool.’

Challenging and fostering progress

The Grachtenfestival is dedicated to challenging and developing talented musicians in different ways. Examples include the annual summer school for young opera singers. As well as Opus Novum, which is specifically aimed at musicians and ensembles who would like to master the art of composition.

Scope for the Solo

A fresh new offshoot at the Grachtenfestival is SOLO. It was given the opportunity for growth, especially during corona time. Rehearsals, ensembles, collaborative music-making at the conservatorium; of course, this was all more difficult for a while. But the constraints also allowed room for personal growth. Musicians became more self-absorbed and pursued personal challenges that were possible. The silence gave rise to many outstanding solo programmes, many of which are now given ample space at the Grachtenfestival.