North Sea Round Town develops a festival for all people of Rotterdam

22 June - 9 July 2023, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Fringe festival North Sea Round Town (NSRT) is a 18-day music festival sprawled all over the city of Rotterdam with 350 concerts, counting more than 1250 performing artists and musicians. The locations vary from (jazz) venues and public squares to churches, former factories, art galleries, nursing homes and many more. NSRT takes place between 22 June and 9 July. 

A core value of NSRT is making sure all people of Rotterdam get in touch with live music. This pillar was one of the reasons the fringe festival of NN North Sea Jazz was founded eighteen years ago. 

Sometimes it might not be possible for someone to go to a concert, so NSRT makes sure the concert comes to them. Every summer, a number of bands will tour dozens of nursing homes around 30 neighborhoods in Rotterdam to put residents and staff in the limelight during ‘Buurtconcerten’. This year, Boy Edgar Prize winner Ronald Snijders swings by several homes with his quartet and also oud-player Nawras Altaky will make appearances in duo with various musicians, like clarinet player Oene van Geel and percussionist Sjahin During.

A newcomer to the NSRT-portfolio is the massive game of musical chairs to live music. Last year the festival did a pilot with almost 650 participants competing for the first prize. This programme offers a fun and playful way to get in touch with live music for kids and families who might not have the financial capacity to go on a holiday during the summer break. On Saturday 15 July, we dance again on a new location at a roof park in Rotterdam.

Lastly, making music is for everyone. Therefore NSRT is happy to collaborate with Rotterdam-based organisation My Breath My Music. Their mission is to support physically challenged individuals playing an instrument. NSRT has initiated several coaching trajectories by pairing up artists from the organisation with professional musicians from Rotterdam. One of the latest projects is an improvisation- and stage presence course with violist Yanna Pelser.

Apart from these highlighted programmes, NSRT are also develops school tours with language and music workshops (TaalTrip), workshops in young people's detention centers, and a truck driving around neighborhoods that serves as a concert hall where kids from schools and neighborhoods enjoy jazz concerts.

Discover the full programme of North Sea Round Town 2023 here.

Addressing the EJN-network, NSRT highlights their first weekend, which is full of adventurous programs. On June 22, 23 and 24, fans of unique music experiences can indulge themselves with a Passe-partout that provides access to three exclusive performances at the fringe festival: YOURAN by Joachim Badenhorst, Invisible Columns by Sanem Kalfa (Artist in Focus) and Midnight Mess by Teis Semey. To top off the weekend, real devotees to contemporary jazz can hop aboard the Jazzship (with a Passe-partout Plus) and visit inJazz, a free showcase festival (including professional programming) in the south of Rotterdam. 

NSRT officially opens on Thursday 22 June with an exceptional concert led by clarinetist/saxophonist Joachim Badenhorst (BE). The performance takes place in a former factory, which now forms a new cultural hotspot on the south bank of the river Maas. YOURAN is a magical improv performance.
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Also developed in collaboration with North Sea Round Town is Invisible Columns, Sanem Kalfa’s new multidisciplinary performance. Artist in Focus vocalist, cellist and improviser Kalfa has invited three international artists for this exclusive performance: trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire (USA), pianist and organist Kit Downes (GB/DE), live electronic artist Jan Bang (NO). You will see the four musicians together for the first time during Invisible Columns. The project premieres at UNESCO world heritage site Van Nelle Fabriek on Friday 23 June. 
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Midnight Mess (album release), the brainchild of guitarist Teis Semey, is a mishmash of Scandinavian folk music, indie music and jazz improvisation. This unconventional last supper consists of composed pieces and improvised parts performed by six impressive musicians, Semey (DK/NL), Kit Downes (GB/DE), Sanem Kalfa (TR/NL), Vera Morais (PT/NL), Marta Arpini (IT/NL) and Līva Dumpa (LV/NL). The new album, which will see the light of day on Saturday 24 June with an eccentric birth at Oude Kerk Charlois.
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But there’s more: a ten-piece concert series at creative hotspot Batavierhuis, selected by NSRT; three wonderful concerts at peaceful Farm Driebergen; biking tour Jazzfietsen with concerts from Sanem Kalfa & George Dumitriu, Yanna Pelser and Peter Somuah; a Gallery Tour consisting of six concerts in Rotterdam’s finest art galleries.

Nautical adventure Het Jazzschip is a full afternoon/early evening programme. With trombone player Nabou Claerhout and her brand-new trio featuring Reinier Baas on guitar and whirlwind Jamie Peet on percussion.

After an hour of sailing and the skyline of Rotterdam sinking into the horizon behind us, we find ourselves in a 16th-century spiritual silence. Not the sexton or pastor, but British organist Kit Downes along with Mexican vocalist/bassist Fuensanta lead the 'service' in Maassluis's Groote Kerk. Once everyone is back on board, the captain turns the ship out of the harbour and sets course 90 degrees east, upstream. While enjoying a glass of beer or wine, the sun at your back, the band KOFFIE bursts into life with summer afrobeats and jazz. 

Photo: TaalTrip - Kay Slice by Hielke Grootendorst