I’m excited for our first festival story of 2021 – the nexTus Festival! This classical music series is one-of-a-kind – 60 musicians from 28 different countries in 24 cities around the globe streaming 34 performances. Here to tell the story is one of the artistic directors, award-winning violinist Dr. Myroslava Khomik. But first, a little backstory.
Back on March 27, 2021 while checking my Instagram feed, a post by a fine violinist that I follow, Dr. Myroslava Khomik, caught my attention.
She was announcing a fantastic upcoming online classical music festival. I had to learn more. When I did, I realized this event was too important not to blog about. Thankfully, Dr. Khomik accepted my invitation to be interviewed so we could get the word out to my students and readers. I hope you enjoy and will be inspired to attend one or more of these concerts or share with those who would enjoy attending.
LRW: I was stunned that this concert is being produced entirely by 60 musicians from 28 different countries in 24 cities around the globe streaming 34 performances – that’s quite an undertaking! May I ask who first dreamed this up and when?
MK: It is a very ambitious project, considering we started working on it at the beginning of February!
LRW: Whoa! That’s an amazingly short period of time to pull off something of this magnitude. Very impressive.
MK: Thank you. However, the idea of a festival in this community (which I became part of in the summer when it was just at the beginning of shaping into what it is today), had been brewing since the fall.
LRW: Ah, I see. That’s still a very short timeline. Please continue.
MK: All these musicians that connected virtually through the BYOM Academy led by Bernhard Kerres, an executive coach and leadership entrepreneur, felt a great sense of empowerment in this comradery and the ability to connect on so many levels worldwide, in these challenging times.
Bernhard was very encouraging to those of us who volunteered our time to lead out on various projects in this community. We had numerous brainstorming sessions and conversations together with other members, and a few of us really wanted to continue developing the idea of the festival in person as soon as the restrictions were lifted.
LRW: It sounds like you all found your tribe through BYOM!
MK: For me personally, organizing an international festival has been an important part of
my future plans, so I threw myself into the idea right away, especially because here I felt like I found a great place to connect with the like-minded people, and with a really supportive and enthusiastic leader like Bernhard.
LRW: As a fellow Entreprenueress, I embrace your boldness.
MK: Alas, after having discussed some options, this did not seem possible coming closer to the planning for the summer 2021 realistically.
LRW: That’s too bad. What did you do then?
MK: Right around that time after one of many Bernhards podcasts on the future of music, one of the members suggested the idea of putting together the festival fully online. I personally got inspired by the notion that we wouldn’t have to wait another two years until we can be active as artists in person, and supported it wholeheartedly. We immediately got to work, formed an Artistic Team and the rest is history! The most amazing thing is, we had never met in person, and not sure yet when we will!
LRW: Talk about turning lemons into lemonade! Great thinking on your feet! Back to BYOM for a moment, while perusing the Vienna-based BYOM Academy website, I learned BYOM stands for “Be Your Own Manager”. It appears to be a school for musicians who want to further develop their professional careers. I see that BYOM is hosting the festival. Very cool. May I ask your involvement with this intriguing organization?
MK: I have been following Bernhard’s great work with musicians for a while now – even before he wrote this fantastic book that now turned into the Academy, and the active community. I’ve always known the practical value this book, and interestingly enough, when the Covid lockdowns first swept across the world and I got stuck in Europe while I was there on what was supposed to be a short trip, I immediately started looking for the book in my old digital files, in order to read it again.
LRW: Sorry to hear you were stuck in Europe. Glad you were able to spend the time reading Bernhard’s book. A book that turned into an Academy – I’ll have to check out that book at some point. Tell me more about that time.
MK: There was so much confusion and helplessness in our artistic worlds especially, that I instinctively knew I would find what I needed there at the moment. A week later, I saw the announcement from Bernhard, that he was starting a virtual course based on the book! I thought it was a wonderful idea, and by the time I signed up in the summer, the community of these musicians who would join the courses purely by word of mouth, kept growing rapidly.
LRW: Indeed. I share that confusion and helplessness as the founder/instructor of an art and piano school. Within 24 hours I was forced to close my beautiful zen studio and teach my beloved students online. Luckily the majority of students were okay with this and I learned to teach from an iPad camera. Glad you found a supportive community during that time.
MK: As an artist and a professional in the field that was crumbling down before our eyes, I found this to be my safe space, a source of inspiration, and having guidance from Bernhard, along with the amazing support of new colleagues and friends, was the miracle we all needed, and we created it together for each other.
LRW: It was kismet!
MK: Since then, myself and several colleagues of mine, have been working together within the community, to help develop its future as a group, as we are all excited to see where it will go from here, and with Bernhard’s continuous support and care, I’m sure it will continue being a very important place for musicians to come to for professional development in the context of a new future.
LRW: Amen to that. I understand you are a member of the Nextus Artistic Team. In addition to performing at the festival, what duties are you fulfilling as a team member? Who is the head/coordinator or do you all share the duties equally?
KM: I am part of the Artistic Team, and since the beginning, we have been working as collaborative leaders, contributing our individual strengths and talents. Some of us are natural at leading and coordinating the work, some are more comfortable working on individual tasks. But we all try to help each other with whatever is needed at the moment.
Nextus Festival Artistic Team: Benjamin Hewat-Craw, Baritone • Christian Huppert, Tech Support • Danae Eleni, Soprano • Ghenadie Rotari, Accordion • Izabela Jutrzenka-Trzebiatowska, Piano • Johanna Kam, Piano • Monika Kertesz, Mezzo-Soprano • Dr. Myroslava Khomik, Violin • Sofia Livotov, Soprano • Susanne Hehenberger, Violin
LRW: That’s quite a mighty team. Sounds like great teamwork.
KM: We created the plan and the timelines, and have been working towards it since day one. It has also been a tremendous learning experience for us all, as not only have we never met in person, but also have not worked in this format, to create something so big under an extreme time pressure!
LRW: What a wonderful learning opportunity and way to connect that would have otherwise likely never happened.
MK: Many of us have never built a website before, or have done professional publicity or graphic design work, and the list goes on – these are the things that normally professionals do as their livelihood. So, we have been learning together, as we work towards one goal, and it has been a very busy and fulfilling two months.
LRW: I hold a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from California State University Northridge CSUN and have worked over the years for a top ad agency and as an art director for various companies, I can vouch that P.R. and graphic design skills are mastered over time not only in the classroom but in the real world. Glad your team had the opportunity to learn from real world experience.
MK: For me personally, being on a committee or leading a project is not a new experience, but these circumstances require a lot more intricate approach to merely every step of the way. I consider each challenge a learning experience, but mostly it has been very rewarding to see the results every day of our round-the-clock work as a team.
LRW: Good to know. You might want to keep a diary for a future book on how to create a festival such as this! As a graphic artist and art teacher, I’m intrigued with the logo.
I read that the name Nextus combines the word “Nexus” [connection or centre] with the phrase “Next Us” [looking to the future of classical musicians]. As a piano teacher, I noticed on the website that the letters in the logo alternate with musical notations. My favorite is when the “t” in Nextus becomes the whole rest. Very clever. May I ask who the logo designer is? How did you find him/her?
MK: Thank you! We are very proud of our name and the design of the logo, which we actually hired a professional graphic designer to help us out, and we couldn’t have asked for a more fitting design. The logo designer, Lilla Bulyovszky is a colleague of one of our team members, and we were happy to work with her, as she took the time to be very creative with it, and we as a client didn’t want to hold her back- the result is obvious!
LRW: That’s wonderful. I like the program themes: The Latin Connection, Tradition and Memories, B’rocking Classical, Romantic Inspirations and Loneliness and Connection, Improvisation & Innovation, Ladies’ Day and Reflecting Nature.
How did you select the program themes and most importantly, the musicians? I see the list of musicians and their instruments. Is there a more detailed program listing pieces and composers?
MK: We set the parameters of the overarching festival themes – Connection, Inspiration, Innovation – to make it possible for the musicians to shape their programs before submitting their proposals to us. Naturally, we were able to thread them together, since every piece of music tells a story, and many of them compliment each other perfectly. All of the details can be found on our website.
LRW: Great themes that tie together the musicians and their music. Will musicians be streaming from recording studios or their home? Or will their streaming be sent to a central broadcasting studio and streamed from that location?
KM: The concerts will be embedded into secret pages on our website where you will have access to the programmes, artist biographies and links to the special events for that day.
LRW: Very well organized. Which day(s) will you be performing? What pieces and composers will you be playing? Solo and/or with ensembles?
MK: My concert airs on the opening weekend of the festival, Sunday, April the 18th, and I am presenting all living composers – three solo violin pieces, with some mysterious elements I cannot reveal, you just have to see it for yourself!
LRW: I see you are in the Tradition and Memories portion of the program. I’m intrigued. Can you reveal a little bit more?
MK: The pieces are: by Ukrainian composer Zoltan Almashi – Graceful Mirage which was written for me just over the summer as part of my quarantine commissions project; a wonderful new piece by LA based composer Julia Adolphe Smile Softly, Softly Smile, and one of my all-time favorites, piece based on the movie, “Red Violin” caprices, by John Corigliano.
LRW: I’m so glad living composers are getting their time in the limelight. I’m not familiar with Zoltan Almashi and will have to learn more. Hey, I follow Julia Adolphe on IG. Will have to research more on her as well. Ooh! I’m such a fan of the movie, “Red Violin”. Your concert is going to be fantastic.
BTW – I love the Virtual Café / Wine Bar idea where ticket holders may join a meeting every Saturday and Sunday during the festival to chat with musicians, other audience members and BYOM members. It makes me fondly reminisce about experiencing this live at the end of memorable concerts. Hosting this on Zoom is a timely idea. Who came up with this concept? Is there an additional cost or is this included with the ticket price?
KM: We wanted to make the experience of virtual attendance of the festival, as interactive as possible, so we have designed the day program to make our audience feel that they are there in person- besides the cafe, we have virtual after-concert receptions to meet the artists, various guest speaker events and round-table discussions. The events for that day are all included in your day pass, or you can attend all of the events throughout the festival if you have a festival pass.
LRW: Good deal. Once concert halls reopen, will these works be performed live? If so, how may my students, readers and I be kept informed? Is there a mailing list we may subscribe to?
KM: We are all looking forward to resuming our work in person, for sure! Yes, you can subscribe to the festival’s newsletter on the website’s home page lower right corner, to stay updated about nexTus Festival future plans, and you are also welcome to follow each of the artists individually on their social media and websites, to keep up to date with their future activities. Many of us are spread around the globe, but we certainly hope to be able to continue this festival in person someday soon!
nexTus Festival Participating Artists:
Diego Collatti • Tocuyito Trio • Rhein-Trio • Erika Cedeño • Anna Maria Mendieta • Bogatay Köprülü • David Van Ransbeeck • Sanja Romić • Myroslava Khomik • Birce Polat • Olga Rodon • Christoph Urbanetz • Jui-Lan Huang • Viktoria Slobodina • Duo Euterpe • Johanna Kam • Izabela Jutrzenka-Trzebiatowksa • Caitlin Berger • Katarina Andjelkovic • Danae Eleni • Silent Opera • Adriana Paler • Maša Babić • Monika Kertesz & IN-PACT • Kamilla Arku • Benjamin Hewat-Craw • Ghenadie Rotari • Heike Matthiesen • Natalia Hurst • Antonija Pacek • Elisabeth Möst • Sofia Livotov • Natalia Williams-Wandoch • Lumen Ensemble
LRW: Newsletter duly noted. An in-person festival will no doubt be a remarkable experience for our culture and communities. Speaking of community, my school is a longtime supporter of the charity, CoachArt.org providing free art classes and piano lessons to families impacted by chronic childhood illness. I was pleased to learn BYOM has partnered with two amazing organizations: Harmonic Progression and OneTreePlanted, fulfilling the concert’s Green Mission. How did you select these two organizations? Were others considered?
MK: We are very committed to our green mission, and we have a few team members taking a lead on organizing this part, which we are as a community devoted to wholeheartedly. We as artists are probably more responsible to be outspoken and raise awareness, because we have a way of voicing this regularly to our audiences through our creativity, and to lead by example. Together, we can change a lot by taking small steps every day. More information can be found on the Nextus web page dedicated to our green mission.
LRW: Thank you for sharing that intel. I hope my students and readers will check out and consider supporting these worthy charities.
It was a pleasure catching up with you dear Myroslava. I wish you all the best for your wonderful festival!
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Here’s a quick roundup of links to explore and enjoy:
Nextus on Facebook
Nextus on Instagram
Nextus on YouTube
Dr. Myroslava Khomik’s website
Dr. Myroslava Khomik’s FB
Dr. Myroslava Khomik’s IG
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