2019 EJN Awards Winners

During the year 2019 EJN has bestowed three awards: the 8th EJN Award for "Adventurous Programming", the 2nd EJN Award on "Music & Community" and the very first "Zenith Award" for emerging artists, in collaboration with 12 Points Festival.

EJN Award for Adventurous Programming 2019

The Europe Jazz Network (EJN) is pleased to reveal the winner of the 8th EJN Award for Adventurous Programming. The Award goes to Jazz Fest Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this year marking its 23rd edition.

The Award winner was selected through a two-phase process: firstly all the 140+ EJN member organisations were asked to indicate a potential award winner (not necessarily an EJN member) through a nomination system, and secondly a selected jury of EJN members and other respected music professionals chose the winner out of the resulting list of 21 nominated promoters (festivals, clubs or concert venues).

This process was introduced last year in order to expand the scope of the consultations about the Award winner, that beforehand was selected only by a jury, now engaging the whole EJN membership and harnessing the great professional knowledge inside the Network. This process makes the choice of the winner even more representative of what Network members consider to be some of the best practices in live music programming, a sector that is flourishing in Europe, deeply committed to the development of new musics and their promotion to local audiences and communities.

Jazz Fest Sarajevo started in 1997, only 18 month after the end of the war and the siege of the city. Despite very difficult conditions in the country, during all these years the festival managed not only to survive but to establish a reputation as an international event of the highest class, with innovative and challenging music played in front of an ever-growing audience and with a special attention to premieres and concerts by national and European rising stars. In addition, the festival has played an essential role in revitalising the cultural scene of the city bringing together fragments of a society affected by the challenges of the post-war reconstructions.

The EJN Award 2019 for Adventurous Programming will be celebrated during the 6th European Jazz Conference taking place in Novara, Italy, between 12 and 15 September 2019 as well as during a public ceremony held at the 23rd Jazz Fest Sarajevo, taking place this year between 7 and 10 November 2019.

Comment from the Award Jury 2019: “Jazz Fest Sarajevo is an icon of creativity with an adventurous, open-minded approach, producing a full-hearted event which stays in the memory of each musician or visitor forever. It seems very fitting this year to give the EJN Award for Adventurous Programming to a festival that brilliantly managed to combine inspiring music and the creation of a strong community around it. It's a unique experience born from a simple idea during the war and is now getting well-deserved international recognition in times of peace. We commend the festival for keeping courage in extremely hard conditions in order to fulfil the core idea behind it: better life for all.”

EJN Award Jury 2019: Nadin Deventer (Jazzfest Berlin/Berliner Festspiele, Germany), Jan Bang (Punkt Festival, Norway), Emily Jones (Cheltenham Jazz Festival, UK), Danielle Oosterop (Oosterop Music Management, Netherlands) and Bogdan Benigar (Jazz Festival Ljubljana/Cankarjev dom, previous EJN Award winner, Slovenia).

EJN Award for Music & Community 2019

The 2019 EJN Award for Music & Community was awarded by the EJN Board of Directors to the Rustica X Band project from Rome, Italy, led by Pasquale Innarella. Rustica X Band is a youth marching band that provides an informal music education and changes the quality of life for those who participate, by encouraging cooperation, social inclusion and enjoyment in music making. 

Named after La Rustica, one of Rome’s most socially and economically deprived suburbs - and supported by Cooperativa Sociale Nuove Riposte, Centro La Rustica - the project encourages children and young people who had no access to music or music education to come and try a musical instrument. The project also provides tuition and gives the participants many opportunities to perform.

Zenith Award for Emerging Artists 2019

Trio Heinz Herbert from Zürich, Switzerland, were selected as the winners of the the first Zenith Award, based on criteria which included a strong originality in sound, music and performance, a high level of instrumental ability, a strong stage presence and future potential for an international career. The Trio’s exploratory aesthetic centres on their collective intensity of expression. With traces of '70s free jazz psychedelics and particles of contemporary club culture, this electronics-infused trio’s almost telepathic interplay is all about feel, colouration and texture. Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council, has already identified Trio Heinz Herbert as a high priority ensemble and awarded them with a public grant to strengthen their international presence. The Trio have performed at some renowned festivals and venues such as JazzFest Berlin (2018), Unerhoert! Festival in Zürich (2018), Stadtgarten in Cologne (2019), Tallinn Music Week (2019) Jazz Festival Willisau (2017), Cully Jazz Festival (2016) and will now be further propelled onto the international stage through the Zenith Award.

The choice of winner was particularly difficult given the high quality level of all projects and the vast diversity of sounds and ensembles that was present at 12 Points, with bands coming from Poland, Spain, England, Finland, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Norway and Belgium. After a detailed discussion on each performance, the jury was unanimous in its final decision.

The following statement was issued by the jury about the first award winner: “We are thrilled to present the inaugural Zenith Award to Trio Heinz Herbert. The jury felt that this dynamic Swiss trio delivered a superb live set which was boundary pushing, energetic, intense, and musically striking. In addition, they possess an arresting musical aesthetic which captivated the audience at the BIMHUIS. As a jury we believe that Trio Heinz Herbert’s exploratory and inventive approach to live music communicates a robust voice of the next generation of creative European improvisers, and we look forward to seeing them perform across Europe and beyond.”

The jury for the first Zenith Award was composed by: Pierre Dugelay (Le Périscope, France), Annamaija Saarela (G Livelab Tampere, Finland), Trude Storheim (Vossa Jazz, Norway), Wim Wabbes (Handelsbeurs, Belgium), Edin Zubcevic (JazzFest Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina) and Kenneth Killeen (Improvised Music Company, Ireland).

Photo (c) Jasmin Brutus/Jazz Fest Sarajevo