EJC2023: Speakers

Nicole Mitchell

Keynote speech on Friday 15/09, at 12:00

Nicole M. Mitchell is an award-winning creative flautist, conceptualist, poet and composer. Having emerged from Chicago’s creative music community in the 90’s, she is the former first woman president of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).

For over twenty years, Mitchell has utilised her art to create worlds that “bridge the familiar with the unknown,” with her Black Earth Ensemble. Mitchell composes for contemporary ensembles of varied instrumentation and size (from solo to orchestra and big band) while incorporating improvisation and a wide aesthetic expression. As a creative flautist, she’s developed a unique improvisational language which has repeatedly awarded her “Top Flutist of the Year” by Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll and the Jazz Journalists Association. As a composer, she has been commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Music NOW, the French Ministry of Culture, the Fromm Music Foundation, Chamber Music America, International Contemporary Ensemble, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, the Newport Jazz Festival and the French American Jazz Exchange. 

Much of Mitchell’s creative process is informed by literature and narrative, with a special interest in science fiction. Mitchell is the recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, the United States Artist Award, the Herb Alpert Artist Fellowship, and the American Academy Arts and Letters. Mitchell is a professor of music at the University of Virginia. Her first book, The Mandorla Letters, was published in 2022 by Green Lantern and the University of Minnesota Press.

Kamilya Jubran

Plenary panel debate on Saturday 16/09, at 10:30
Discussion Group on engaging new & diverse audiences on Friday 15/09, at 15:00

Kamilya Jubran grew up in Al Rameh- a Palestinian village situated in Galilee, in the north of Israel. Raised by her music-loving parents, she was initiated to classical Arabic music, particularly by her father Elias Jubran- a music teacher and instrument maker.

At the age of 18, Kamilya moved to Jerusalem, where she studied at the Hebrew University and simultaneously explored her new musical pathway by joining Sabreen, an East Jerusalem based group, with whom she recorded four albums and toured in many local and international venues. Since 2002 Kamilya has lived in Europe. She searches for an original musical expression of her voice and her instrument, the Oud, through various projects.

She founded long term musical partnerships with Werner Hasler and Sarah Murcia. She produced, and toured internationally with, Mahattaat (2002), Wameedd (2004), Makan (2009), Wanabni (2010), Nhaoul’ (2011) that developed into Habka (2016) together with Guillaume Roy, Régis Huby and Atsushi Sakaï; Wasl (2013) with Werner Hasler and Sarah Murcia; Wa (2019) with Werner Hasler, Malek (2021) with Sarah Murcia and the ‘Orchestre Régional de Normandie’.

In October 2014 Kamilya was appointed artistic director of Zamkana, an association which supports and accompanies original innovative artistic projects, respecting the values ​​of freedom of expression and secularism. In 2018 Zamkana developed and produced Sodassi, a project with six young singers and musicians from the Near East. In 2021, she launched Terrae Incognitae- a platform for music meetings, improvisation and writing in real time.

Fabrizio Cassol

Plenary panel debate on Saturday 16/09, at 10:30
Discussion group on the future of music education on Friday 15/09, at 15:00

Fabrizio Cassol is a Belgian/Italian saxophonist, composer and music director. He is a shape-shifting musician, an adept of crossbreeding who never ceases to multiply exchanges with musicians from the four corners of the world, exploring improvised music, oral traditions and written musics in order to better play with the borders between genres.

His interest in non-European music started after a trip to the Aka Pygmies in Central Africa and expanded to Asia (especially India) and Africa where he worked with the Mali diva Oumou Sangaré, the Griot Baba Sissoko & the Black Machine, the Indian master of percussion U. K. Sivaraman, the Senegalese Doudou N'Diaye Rose, the Turkish Misirli Ahmed and the Bulgarian Nedyalko Nedyalkov.

For thirty years, he has been the composer and saxophonist of Aka Moon, a real ‘land of welcome’ for a multitude of musicians from the most diverse cultures. He has often worked with choreographers such as Alain Platel (Requiem pour L., Coup Fatal), Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, the Samoan Lemi Ponifasio, the Congolese Faustin Linyekula, the South African Brett Bailey.

Fabrizio Cassol is the Artistic Director of Medinea at the Lyrical Festival d’Aix-En- Provence. He brings together artists from all over the Mediterranean, each with their own musical heritage. He transmits a method to create music by mixing different heritages, notably those of the Arabic world with those of the European world, through a process based on orality and memorisation.

Fabrizio Cassol is a strong ambassador for intercultural dialogue between cultures all around the world.

Raphaël Imbert

Plenary panel debate on Saturday 16/09, at 10:30

Saxophone player, composer, improviser, teacher, researcher. Director of Conservatoire Pierre Barbizet de Marseille (INSEAMM) since September 2019. Artistic director of the “Compagnie Nine Spirit'' since 1999.

In 1995, with Jean-Jacques Elangué, he won the first prize at the Conservatoire in Marseille, and started two bands, the Hemle Orchestra and the Atsas Imbert Consort. With these musicians, he enjoyed composing in eclectic musical settings. More personally, he developed his own vision of music and jazz, linked to the specific spirituality of jazz creation.

For this purpose, he created “Nine Spirit”, that focused on the sacred musics of Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler and others, and to realise shows inspired by evocative texts, using narration as a musical element per se. 

He won the 28th National Jazz Competition of La Défense in Paris in 2005. He recorded 11 albums as leader, including “Bach Coltrane” in 2008. He won the "Victoires du Jazz" award with his album "Music is My Hope" (Jazz Village, 2018), he released "Oraison" with a new quartet in 2020 (Outnote Records) and "Invisible Stream" with Jean-Guihen Queyras (Harmonia Mundi 2022).

He created many shows under the auspices of Marseille Provence 2013, capitale européenne de la culture. He published in 2014 a book about spirituality in jazz called “Jazz Supreme. Initiés, Mystiques & Prophètes” (éditions de l’éclat). He wrote about ten papers for different media and he participates as musician and speaker in numerous conferences and shows with writers, philosophers, scientists. 

Anna Umbima

Moderator of the plenary panel debate on Saturday 16/09, at 10:30

Anna Umbima is a UK based writer, broadcaster and facilitator. She works internationally running training workshops, professional development programmes and helping people develop their communication and leadership skills. For two decades she worked with the  music producers Serious on various projects and residential professional development programmes including: Take Five - for emerging jazz musicians, LEAP - which focused on Learning, Access and Participation and Move on Up  - for artists of African and Caribbean origin. 

She has helped to shape and run various music education and diversity initiatives including a scheme to promote diversity in opera, facilitating inter-religious dialogues and  using music to examine inclusivity in the workplace. Anna was a journalist and broadcaster with the BBC including stints as a television producer, foreign correspondent and radio presenter on the World Service.

Julia Payne

Moderator of the discussion group on non-formal music education on Friday 15/09, at 15:00

Julia has 25+years experience of working in the jazz and wider independent music sector. After initially earning her stripes working in venues, including London’s Barbican Centre, she took up roles at the Jazz Development Trust and Arts Council England. In 2002, she co-founded the hub, a social enterprise which uses profits from its music-focused consultancy and research work to subsidise ‘in house’ creative projects and professional development programmes for artists and creative freelancers. 

Julia has significant experience of developing and delivering regional and national talent development programmes for musicians, producers and independent promoters, working with partners such as BBC Talent, PRS Foundation and the Musicians Union. During the pandemic, Julia led the development of the hub’s Balance programme, which helped over a thousand artists and creative freelancers balance their minds and their books at a time of huge uncertainty. Balance included free action learning (group coaching) sessions, monthly mental health talks, business planning and wellbeing-focused training and a digital Balance toolkit packed with 100+ resources to help artists and freelancers take care of their minds and their businesses. In October 2021, Julia won the IPSE Wellbeing Award for her work on Balance.

In a pro-bono capacity, Julia is Chair of Sound UK, one of the UK’s leading producers of new music, and a trustee at Penned in the Margins. She also mentors a number of individual musicians and creative producers.

Linda Bloemhard

Discussion group on the future of music education on Friday 15/09, at 15:00

My musical career as a Pop musician started in the early 80-ties when I was seventeen. Since then, my career in music and music education has been an ongoing journey where I have had many great opportunities to perform with wonderful musicians and bands.

After my professional career in pop music, I was accepted at the Rotterdam Conservatory to study Pop & Jazz. In 2000 I was asked to become a teacher at the Pop department and from then on developed myself as an educator, curriculum developer and head of departments Jazz, Pop in Higher Music Education at Codarts, University of the Arts Rotterdam.

My goal as a head of department and educator has always been to design pathways of learning and teaching that are relevant for the musicians and educators of tomorrow. The field of higher music education is always evolving and as educators we cannot stop evolving with it, we owe it to the next generation to keep making space for music and the arts in society. ‘Earth without Art is E..h...’.

Matti Nives 

Moderator of the discussion group on the future of music education on Friday 15/09, at 15:00

Matti Nives is the founder and creative director of the Helsinki-based label, festival and magazine We Jazz. He freelances as a DJ, radio host, writer and music curator.

He also has extensive experience in music education and consultancy, for example in hosting the popular "Music Business" course in Sibelius Academy in Helsinki for many semesters, and hosting various talks and educational workshops at multiple events worldwide dealing with various aspects of the ever-evolving non-mainstream music business.

Judyth Babin

Discussion group on succession of off-stage roles on Friday 15/09, at 15:00

Judyth Babin is the founder and director of Manag’Art, a management agency, and Grain(s) de Riz, a record label. Former DJ and former public accountant, Judyth created Manag’Art in 2017 because she was willing to help up-and-coming jazz artists and cultural establishments to develop their projects.

With a versatile skill set, her company has been involved in artist management, administrative services, production and tour management. Since 2017, Judyth has organised tours in France, Cameroon, Spain, Sweden, Romania, Martinique and Shanghai. Between 2017 and 2019, Judyth was in charge of the production of the Festival Jazz à Caudéran in Bordeaux. In 2019, Judyth founded her own record label, Grain(s) de Riz, in order to develop the support offered to independent artists.

Between 2019 and 2023, Judyth took part in several collaborative European projects, such as: Footprints Europe, SEWEM (Sino-European Women Entrepreneurs in Music), MEWEM (Mentoring Program for Women Entrepreneurs in Music Industry) and MEWEM Golden Ticket or Reeperbahn New-York. These projects aim to reform the music sector by fostering sustainable cooperation between cultural entrepreneurs and artists from different countries. 

Judyth is a board member of Action Jazz, a non-profit organisation promoting jazz artists and festivals in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France.

Sophie Blussé

Moderator of the discussion group on succession of off-stage roles on Friday 15/09, at 15:00

Sophie Blussé, originally a musicologist, has been working mainly in the Dutch jazz and global music scene since the start of her career. Her work expands various types of work, from a/o product management and marketing at Challenge Records to national and international promotion of Dutch jazz at the former Music Center the Netherlands. 

As a freelancer she has been active as a booker for jazz artists and as a project manager and fundraiser for various organisations, a/o Conservatory Codarts Rotterdam, Dutch Performing Arts, Boy Edgar Prize and Scapino Ballet Rotterdam. From 2017-2022, Sophie was director of Jazz International Rotterdam, presenting a year round concert series, the yearly Festival Jazz International Rotterdam – later called RAUW, and talent development schemes. 

Since 2023 Sophie focusses fully on her work for Music Meeting Nijmegen, where  she is general director since 2020, and her board membership for the Festivalhuis Nijmegen.

Kevin Le Gendre 

Moderator of the discussion group on engaging new & diverse audiences on Friday 15/09, at 15:00

Kevin Le Gendre is a journalist and broadcaster with a special interest in black music, literature and culture. Since the late ‘90s he has written about soul, funk, jazz and hip-hop, as well as African and Caribbean authors for many publications, including Echoes, Jazzwise, The Guardian, The Independent, Qwest tv (France) and Times Literary Supplement Online.

He contributes to BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and also presents Radio 3’s J To Z. He is the author of Don’t Stop The Carnival; Black Music In Britain Vol.1 (2018) and his latest book is Hear My Train A Comin’: The Songs Of Jimi Hendrix

Gwendolenn Sharp 

Moderator of the discussion group on sustainable touring on Friday 15/09, at 15:00

Gwendolenn Sharp is the founder of The Green Room (2016), a non-profit organisation developing strategies for environmental and social change in the music industry. She has worked with cultural institutions, festivals and environmental NGOs in Poland, France, Germany and Tunisia and has diverse experience in concert production, tour management, project design, international cooperation and developing tools and strategies.

Since 2016, she co-creates solutions with associated musicians and technicians towards low-carbon touring, carrying out assessments, awareness-raising and operational training regarding sustainable practices for the music sector. She regularly collaborates with European projects and international networks.

Gwendolenn is an AGF assessor, a Keychange alumni (2022) and a Villa Albertine Resident (2023), currently running a research-action on low-carbon touring in the US.

Davide Grosso

Moderator of the discussion group on a fair practice policy, on Friday 15/09

A ‘Five music rights’ activist with an academic background in ethnomusicology, Davide has carried out extensive field research in Indonesia about music and society and worked in journalism and media.

He joined the International Music Council in 2013 where he is in charge of project management and communication. Among other assignments, he is the secretary of the International Rostrum of Composers and curates the edition of the Music World News.

From 2020 to 2022 he chaired the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee, representing a network of more than 400 NGOs in official partnership with UNESCO.

Outside the office Davide composes electronic music and writes about music and politics for various magazines and blogs.