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.