Theme 2022: Breaking New Ground

European Jazz Conference 2022
22-25 September, National Palace of Culture, Sofia, Bulgaria
Breaking New Ground

The Europe Jazz Network (EJN) started in 1987 with a small group of promoters in Western Europe. Since then it has attracted members from 34 countries, in Europe and beyond. There are regions in Europe where this network is not as strong as it could be and that is one reason why we are in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. The EJN has a lot to discover in South-Eastern Europe, and vice versa, and we chose the title Breaking New Ground as we are trying to involve all European countries in EJN - building bridges, establishing collaborations, with those countries and organisations that are not part of the EJN family - yet. 

Today more than ever, in a time when a devastating conflict appears again in the very same region of Europe that will be hosting us, we need the experience of cultural exchange and collaboration to understand, respect and come closer to one another. Strong cultural bonds enrich our societies and we are keen to develop and maintain these at all times.

This network has transformed since its beginnings - when it was primarily looking for ways to set up concert tours throughout Europe - into an important voice demonstrating how music and society are intertwined. In this period of profound world-wide change, EJN has been breaking new ground by developing strategies to make our environment more sustainable, to enable gender balance and a wide representation of different communities in our sector, to emphasise social inclusion and to involve young audiences in our projects. In Sofia, we will focus the Conference discussions on the themes of transition, innovation, sustainability, leadership, entrepreneurship and fair practices in music, and we will seek answers that will help us to move forward in these areas.  

This network began with a small group of dedicated people who had a vision. It has repeatedly broken new ground geographically, and in terms of content and personnel. In more recent years, it has also grown into a network involving a lot of young people, women and men, energising its membership and making its activities relevant and dynamic.

The American jazz pianist Mal Waldron made a challenging record in 1983 called Breaking New Ground, where his trio took a U-turn playing only cover songs from pop artists (including Michael Jackson’s Beat It) and the work of some classical composers. It delivers a powerful message on the need to open up new horizons - one that we want to bring with us to this year’s conference. Similarly, in Sofia we will be experiencing new sounds from the South-Eastern region of Europe, where a strong music tradition meets new sonic frontiers and encourages dialogue between musical languages.

We invite you to share this journey with us in Sofia at the European Jazz Conference 2022!