Since its founding in 2004, ECMA – the European Chamber Music Academy has established itself as Europe’s leading further education programme for young professional chamber music ensembles, with educational institutions and festivals from all over Europe and beyond joining forces to support young formations on their way to artistic independence. And ECMA used its first EU project as part of the Erasmus+ programme, which ran from 2015 to 2018 and involved seven partners, to further develop its offerings; one of the results of this work is the “ECMAster”, a joint master’s degree programme that has been running within a partnership of seven institutions since 2019.
The mdw—as the lead partner together with ECMA and 10 further participating institutions—has now scored a major success in the context of the EU cultural support programme Creative Europe: ECMA Pro – International Career Development and Socially Engaged Outreach in Chamber Music. With this project, ECMA will be continuing its development over next few years by testing out new formats and activities in four main areas. In the process, a special degree of support will be devoted to the international mobility of ECMA’s ensembles, which will visit many of the international partner institutions as part of the eight annual ECMA sessions. ECMA Pro will also organise “Showcases” in order to give the ensembles opportunities to play for professional audiences that include concert and festival organisers as well as agency representatives—a targeted way of supporting them as they grow into international concert life.
Together with the Europewide organisation Musethica, with which the mdw has already cooperated closely for several years, “Musethica Sessions” will support selected ensembles’ development via intensive practical concert work at the most varied institutions and in unusual venues: 10 to 14 appearances within the space of just a few days at places including “hotspot” schools, institutions for people with disabilities, and refugee shelters will connect concentrated performance training, coaching, and monitoring with “third mission” activities. These concerts are to be understood not as charity events, but as encounters on an even footing between excellent musicians and their unusual audiences that make it possible for both sides to have new and unaccustomed experiences. This will also provide the young artists with support in developing a sense of their roles in and responsibility to society.
Alongside intensive musical instruction, workshops that teach participating musicians skills for the active and independent development of their careers will also be an important component of the ECMA Sessions over the next few years.
It goes without saying that the project ECMA Pro is affected by the current restrictions and that ECMA will need to find ways of dealing with these challenges. But in this regard, a number of the project’s central features are arriving at precisely the right time: for example, ECMA Pro includes the development of an online teaching and learning platform that will offer video tutorials on specific themes present in chamber music teaching. Furthermore, the ECMA Digital Career Skills Platform will enable young musicians to access teaching and informational materials on career-related topics ranging from self-marketing to business planning. And finally, the ECMA Career Development Switchboard is aimed at establishing ECMA as a central hub that puts young, up-and-coming chamber music ensembles in contact with concert organisers and other music industry protagonists.
So in this spirit: stay tuned! For updates on current developments, check out the ECMA website at ecma-music.com.