The European Jazz Conference 2022 ends breaking new ground in Sofia, Bulgaria



On Sunday, 25 September 2022, the European Jazz Conference ended its 8th edition in Sofia, Bulgaria, with great success. During 4 intense days, 324 music professionals from 38 countries from all over Europe and beyond, the vast majority of which were visiting Bulgaria for the first time, shared ideas, passions and music, and got to learn about the strong music traditions and the new frontiers of creative and improvised music in the country.

The majority of delegates were festival and venue directors and representatives of national and regional organisations that are members of the Europe Jazz Network, but there has been a significant attendance as well by other international promoters, organisations, booking agents, artists’ managers, academics and journalists.

The Conference was co-organised by Europe Jazz Network (EJN) & A to Z Foundation- the EJN member that runs the A to JazZ Festival. It was supported by the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, that is funding EJN through its network strand for the period 2022-2024, the Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism and Sofia Municipality.

On Friday 23 September, after the welcome speeches by the authorities, Polish-Belgian philosopher Alicja Gescinska delivered a brilliant keynote speech on the theme of music and morality, with the title “At home in music”. After that, a solidarity event for Ukraine saw the music performance of the trumpet-electronics duo composed by Dmitriy Avksentiev and Dennis Adu, with the introduction by Mariana Bondarenko from the Ukrainian Institute. In the afternoon, 5 parallel discussion groups covered some topics related to the conference theme of this year, Breaking New Ground, such as leadership & succession in cultural management, sustainability in music, business models & entrepreneurship, fair practices towards musicians, the gender gap in different part of the East and West of Europe.

The morning of Saturday 24 September started with the panel debate “Does music make people and society better?”, moderated by Susanna Von Canon (artists’ management, NL) with Alicja Gescinska (PL-BE), Petter Frost Fadnes (Stavanger University, NO) and Maria Pia De Vito (artist and artistic director, IT). It was followed by a presentation of Bulgarian music traditions and how they blended with jazz and improvised music, by Borislav Petrov, with a musical intervention at the end by some of the artists that performed as well during the showcases. The final wrap-up of the Conference in the afternoon was done by May Ngo, an independent writer from Australia currently based in Prague.

In addition to the conference programme, a rich showcase programme saw the performanced by: Bodurov Trio, Vasil Hajigrudev Sextet, Dimitar Liolev Quartet: RHODOPOLOGY, Via Mavis, JP3, Beleva & Hajigrudev, Zhivko Vasilev quintet, Gueorgui Kournazov Quintet, 3uP, Jazzanitza. During the nights, a fringe programme at OZONE sybar saw the performances of: Oratnitza, Desy & The Visual Madmen, Tryplet, The essential FUNK Trombone, Noise Linguistix, Ruth Koleva.

The next European Jazz Conference will be held between 14 and 17 September 2023 in Marseille, France.

Photo (c) Pavel Koev / A to Z Foundation