EJN Awards

The Europe Jazz Network bestows 3 awards: the EJN Award for Adventurous Programming (now at the 12th edition), the EJN Award for Music & Community (now at the 5th edition) and the EJN Zenith Award for Emerging Artists in collaboration with 12 Points Festival (now at the 2nd edition). In the year 2023, the EJN Award for Adventurous Programming is bestowed to A L'ARME! festival (Germany), and the EJN Zenith Award for emerging artists to NOUT trio (France).

The 12th EJN Award for Adventurous Programming goes to A L’ARME! festival for its forward-looking and exploratory musical journeys

 We are very happy to announce the winner of the EJN Award for Adventurous Programming for 2023: A L’ARME! festival in Berlin, Germany. The Award, this year reaching its 12th edition, is bestowed each year by the Europe Jazz Network (EJN) to a European promoter who succeeds in creating visionary and fascinating musical programmes for its audience.
The Award winner was selected through a two-phase process: in the first stage all the 190+ EJN member organisations from 35 countries were asked to indicate a potential award winner (not necessarily an EJN member). After this, a selected jury of EJN members and other respected music professionals met online in April 2023 to choose the winner out of the resulting list of 18 nominated festivals, clubs, and concert venues.
Comment from the Award jury 2023: 
“For the second time, in its twelve editions, the EJN Award goes back to the city of Berlin, and to one of its most audacious musical encounters: A L’ARME! festival. A relatively young event, started in 2012, with an independent character and a strong personal commitment by its two creators, the festival established itself as a reference point in Europe for avant-garde jazz, experimental and improvised music. At the intersection between radicalism, quality and energy, its programme makes little or no compromises, and includes premieres, commissioned works and a ‘handpicked’ selection of artists that often work across genres. 
It is a festival that is not afraid to take musical risks and guides its audience through a highly curated ‘dramaturgy’ for each festival day. It also developed an innovative and distinct aesthetic, both in its visual presentation and in the way stages are set up and different media are being used in the performances. All these elements made it the perfect choice for this year’s award. Huge congratulations to A L’ARME! festival, winner of the 12th EJN Award for Adventurous Programming!”
The 2023 Jury was composed by: Kornelia Vossebein (Stadtgarten Köln, Germany), Judyth Babin (Manag’Art, France), Nick Dunston (artist, US/Germany), Marina Fernández (Plataforma Jazz España, Spain), Bob van Heur (Le Guess Who? - 2022 Award winner, the Netherlands)
Comment by founder & artistic director Louis Rastig and executive director Karina Mertin: 
“Ten years spent working as cultural producers in Berlin has rewarded us with an electrifying artistic growth. We’ve been lured beyond our comfort zones toward the difference of other creative energies thriving here. Receiving recognition from the Europe Jazz Network’s esteemed jury is a tremendous honour that also validates our belief in improvisation & experimentation. Our ethos of embracing hybrid modalities, challenging the status quo, and working towards what we do not yet know has transformed A L'ARME!, a niche summer jazz festival, into a whole cultural project that extends into contemporary art and social issues.
As a pacifist „statement festival“ with full focus on the personalities behind the music, we are grateful that we can offer a platform for extraordinary artists to engage new audiences where staid hierarchs can be flattened, categorical assumptions rethought, and empowering social relations imagined. 
A L’ARME! is only deserving of this award because of the efforts of others. Heartfelt thanks to the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe for their trust in the form of funding. This gratitude extends to our audiences for their openness as well as to all our partners. Sincere respect and awe are also felt toward the inspiring artists whose work is the reason for our being. Thank you!“
The 12th EJN Award for Adventurous Programming will be celebrated during the 9th European Jazz Conference in Marseille, France, between 14 and 17 September 2023, with the EJN members and many other professionals from the creative music sector in Europe and beyond.
About A L’ARME! festival 2023
10. - 12. August, Berlin
Welcome to a state of emergency: A L’ARME! is a call to disobedience. A signal indicating it is time to face new challenges and leave our routines behind. In times of upheaval, the festival applies the anarchic character of jazz to other fields and genres. Three days at Radialsystem in Berlin offer an interdisciplinary variety of protagonists, all taking part in an awakening that is centred not only around music, but also around art and performance. All strong statements that could stand alone, and yet when they are brought into a polyphonic dialogue, they become even more impactful. In this way, A L’ARME! remains true to its subversive impetus in its eleventh year: to challenge, inspire, and open the audience’s eyes and ears.
About the EJN Award for Adventurous Programming
Each year, since 2012, EJN the Europe-wide association of promoters, presenters and organisations who specialise in creative music, contemporary jazz and improvised music, awards a European promoter who exemplifies the values of EJN and skilfully succeeds to create visionary and fascinating musical programmes for the audience.
Previous winners of the EJN Award for Adventurous Programming have been: Le Guess Who? festival in the Netherlands (2022), Jazzfest Berlin by Berliner Festspiele in Germany (2021), Victoria-Nasjonal Jazzscene in Norway ex-aequo with Porgy and Bess in Austria (2020), JazzFest Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina (2019), Jazz Festival Ljubljana in Slovenia (2018), Tampere Jazz Happening in Finland (2017), Manchester Jazz Festival in the UK (2016), Moers Festival in Germany (2015), Jazz em Agosto in Portugal (2014), Bimhuis in the Netherlands (2013) and 12 Points Festival in Ireland (2012).
In addition to the Award for Adventurous Programming, EJN established two other awards: the EJN Award for “Music & Community” (first edition in 2018), highlighting outstanding projects of social inclusion through creative music, and the “Zenith Award for Emerging Artists” (first edition in 2019), in collaboration with 12 Points Festival.

The 5th EJN Award for Music & Community goes to B:Music in Birmingham

As revealed at the end of the 9th European Jazz Conference 2023 in Marseille, on Saturday 16 September 2023, B:Music in Birmingham (UK) is the recipient of the 5th EJN Award for Music and community, bestowed each year by the Europe Jazz Network (EJN) to an organisation or project for its groundbreaking work on social inclusion.

The annual EJN Award for Music & Community acknowledges organisations that have:
- enriched people’s lives via participation in music; 
- engaged local communities overcoming access barriers of all kinds; 
- educated or entertained through musical activities – and have done so for a period of time, as a constant effort to engage with society and its needs.

The Board of Directors of EJN has unanimously selected B:Music to receive the EJN award for Music & Community 2023. Here is the full comment of the Board: “In the face of some sterling competition, B:Music impressed and inspired us with the way in which their Generation Ladywood project clearly and directly sought out and involved young people from Birmingham’s culturally diverse local communities. Reaching and affecting young musicians at risk of exclusion, and from a wide range of backgrounds, abilities and experience, the diverse session leaders also reflected the demographics of those communities well. Generation Ladywood proves how long-term investment in group music-making can have positive and long-lasting effects on the lives of these young urban practitioners, when delivered with such commitment and passion. In addition to this, B:Music is running other projects that have similar aims, such as Progression Pathways or the Peer Mentoring Scheme, and has done an outstanding job in connecting all these different projects together, in order to be able to offer to participants many opportunities for follow-up and for a long-term engagement. We hope these exemplary projects will be equally inspiring for other EJN members in their ongoing work in the field of social inclusion.”

The EJN Board of Directors in 2022/23 was composed by: Wim Wabbes - President (Ha Concerts, Belgium), Sunna Gunnlaugsdóttir - Vice-President (Solfinna, Iceland), Kenneth Killeen (Improvised Music Company, Ireland), Enrico Bettinello (NovaraJazz, Italy), Karolina Juzwa (Intl Jazz Platform/Wytwórnia Foundation, Poland), Minnakaisa Kuivalainen (Tampere Jazz Happening, Finland), Øyvind S. Larsen (Oslo Jazz Festival, Norway), Steve Mead (Manchester Jazz Festival, UK).

Toni Grehan, Community Engagement Manager at B:Music, commented: “We are immensely proud to have won the European Jazz Network Award for best community outreach project. Here at B:Music we strive to develop projects that are in line with our ethos and moto 'To inspire a love of music through performance, participation and learning'. We have been working hard, to make sure our projects have true and meaningful impact for our communities. We have been striving for more diversity amongst our freelance team, in order for us to fully connect and inspire the students we are teaching, as well as introducing our young communities to a range of musical sounds that our freelance team can deliver. We have also been working hard to create a flight path of musical progression between all of our projects. We will continue to grow and further develop our projects, with our young community's personal, social and musical development at the heart of everything we do.  Thanks to all of the team at the Europe Jazz Network for supporting the great work we do here at B:Music. “

Previous recipients of the EJN Award for Music & Community are:
- 2022 - Katowice JazzArt Festival / Miasto Ogrodów (Poland)
- 2020 - JazzDanmark for JazzCamp for Girls and other initiatives (Denmark)
- 2019 - Pasquale Innarella Rustica X Band (Italy)
- 2018 - Banlieues Bleues actions musicales (France)

About B:Music
B:Music has a mission to inspire a love of music through performance, participation and learning. We believe that music is essential to everyone and that it has the power to transform lives, to entertain and uplift, to create shared experiences and to educate.

Our iconic Birmingham venues, Town Hall and Symphony Hall are places where communities come together, new ways of learning are developed and curious minds discover new music. Our talent development work provides pathways for young people to progress their musical education and to potentially develop careers as musicians, while our community projects support local people who experience barriers to engaging with live music performances.

Through our extensive and varied programme, we enrich Birmingham’s music scene by providing paid performance opportunities for local, national and international artists that are accessed by an annual combined audience of over 500,000 individuals.


NOUT from France awarded the second EJN Zenith Award for Emerging Artists in collaboration with 12 Points Festival

We are very happy to announce French trio NOUT as the winner of the second Zenith Award for emerging artists - an initiative launched by the Europe Jazz Network (EJN) in collaboration with 12 Points Festival and supported by Creative Europe.

NOUT is a French creative music trio composed of Delphine Joussein (flute, fx), Rafaëlle Rinaudo (electric harp), and Blanche Lafuente (drums). They have been performing together since 2020, took part in the Jazz Migration development programme #7 by the Association Jazzé Croisé and subsequently toured in France and Europe, gathering enthusiastic reviews and great appreciation from the public.

The Zenith Award was created in 2019 to shine a spotlight on a remarkable European ensemble or solo project working in creative jazz and improvised music. The winner is selected from the carefully curated 12 acts performing at the 12 Points festival, all coming from different European countries. The Award celebrates the ensemble’s ability to break musical boundaries while demonstrating an original approach to performance and a potential for a strong, ongoing international career. The name “Zenith Award” was adopted to reflect the level of excellence in the winning act, and its capacity to show a way forward for the future of creative music in Europe. The first receivers of the Zenith Award were Trio Heinz Herbert from Switzerland in 2019.

For each Award edition, the Europe Jazz Network nominates an international jury of respected artistic directors, all EJN members, to choose the winner out of the 12 bands performing at the festival. For this second edition of the Zenith Award, due to the cancellation of 12 Points Festival in 2022, the choice of the winning band was made by the Zenith Award jury through online meetings and digital evaluations, from the shortlist of the artists that were chosen to perform at the festival. The choice of winner was particularly difficult given the high quality of all projects and the vast diversity of sounds and ensembles in the shortlist, with bands coming from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Norway, Switzerland. Please see below the full list of shortlisted candidates.

The jury commented: “This trio shows a very high level of creativity and originality, with the unusual line-up of flute, electric harp and drums. They can be extremely vigorous and energetic, while still maintaining a complexity and richness in textures and details. While they are obviously having a good time on stage, they possess a wide range of dynamics, they can surprise you and keep you tied to your seat, or stand up dancing, until their performance is over. It is not by chance that despite them being rather young they already catched the interest of many promoters in France and beyond. We have no doubt that this Zenith Award will give them the opportunity to step up their career in Europe and be known to a wider community of professionals from the creative music sector, and they fully deserve it. Huge congratulations to NOUT!”

The jury for the second Zenith Award consisted of: Tina Heine (Salzburg Jazz & the City, Austria), Jan Ole Otnæs (Victoria-Nasjonal Jazzscene, Norway), Karolina Juzwa (International Jazz Platform, Poland), Francesco Mariotti (Pisa Jazz, Italy), Michael Bonner (Moving On Music/Brilliant Corners festival, UK), and Kenneth Killeen (Improvised Music Company/12 Points Festival, Ireland).

On being named the winners of the Zenith Award 2023, NOUT commented“The Zenith Award?! Hard to believe, but it seems that the adventure goes on hard for Nout. Beyond countries and music borders, all honoured that we are, we'll continue to give our best to our audience. Peace and Noise, Freedom and Love!”

NOUT will now receive an outstanding prize of performances and promotional opportunities from among the EJN membership, including a prestigious showcase at the European Jazz Conference 2023 in front of over 400 music professionals from all over Europe and beyond in Marseille, France (14-17 September) as part of the showcase programme of the Conference.

EJN will also support at least 5 additional international concerts inside the EJN membership, setting up a communication and professional development strategy to promote the Zenith Award winners through its members and contacts and assisting in developing the winning act’s visibility and viability in the international arena.

About NOUT
Described as the missing chain between Nirvana and Sun Ra, the alliance between Delphine Joussein, Rafaëlle Rinaudo and Blanche Lafuente aims at pushing their instruments beyond their limits, with the enthusiasm of a mad scientist in front of his vials.

Flute, harp & drums is a rare combination that this trio turns upside down.

In the wake of John Zorn's experiences on the borders of jazz and noise, Nout imagines its music as a scenario with surprising twists. “We believe to be the characters of Alien and we find ourselves in Indiana Jones; we start with our eyes shut on a red movie theatre seat and we end up rocking on the dancefloor”.

Check out NOUT’s work on their websiteBandcampYouTubeFacebookInstagram, and Jazz Migration profile.

Shortlisted projects for the 2nd Zenith Award

Bandler Ching, Belgium (Listen on Bandcamp)
Caktus, Denmark (Listen on Bandcamp)
Maja Mannila Trio, Finland (Listen on Bandcamp)
Nout, France (Listen on Bandcamp)
Evi Filippou's inEvitable, Germany (Listen on Bandcamp)
Ingibjörg Elsa Turchi, Iceland (Listen on Bandcamp)
Roamer, Ireland (Listen on Bandcamp)
She's Analog, Italy (Listen on Bandcamp)
Džiazlaif, Lithuania (Listen on Bandcamp)
Signe Emmeluth’s Amoeba, Norway (Listen on Bandcamp)
Amalia Umeda Quartet, Poland (Listen on Bandcamp)
Sc'ööf, Switzerland (Listen on Bandcamp)

About 12 Points festival
12 Points is a dynamic festival of emerging European jazz established in 2007 by Dublin-based Improvised Music Company (IMC). The festival is nomadic, alternating between Dublin and other vibrant European cities. The 2019 edition took place in partnership with the prestigious BIMHUIS venue in Amsterdam from 25-28 September.

The 4 day festival presents 12 emerging acts from 12 different European countries. Over 600 young musicians from across Europe have performed at 12 Points since 2007. 12 Points is programmed each year by an open-call, with peer recommendations from jazz promoters and organisations across Europe. This exploratory approach to finding new talent earned 12 Points the inaugural Europe Jazz Network award for ‘Adventurous Programming’ in 2012.