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Keynote speaker: Brendan Walsh

However convenient it would be, you can not order new audiences on Amazon, to be delivered to your doorstep, all packaged and ready to applause or sing along. Choirs, festivals, organisations, we all have to go out there and convince people to get actively involved with the art form we cherish. But let’s face it, are we really doing such a great job? How many choirs are really reaching out outside of the family-and-friends circle? How many choral organisation can claim a two-digit growth rate? Thanks to Singing Europe, we now know that a potential 95% of the population is waiting to be convinced that collective singing is good for them or that choral concerts can be unique and exciting experiences worth leaving their living rooms for and buying a ticket.

However, we are not alone in this situation. Other performing arts are facing the same challenges: enlarging audiences, fighting old prejudices, bridging generation gaps, developing new activity (?) models, addressing short-term expectations of younger generations while fostering long-term involvement.

We are not alone in our quest for continuous improvement: our key note speaker, Brendan Jan Walsh, decided to dedicate his professional life to helping artists, musicians and organizations in reaching out to new audiences.

His message could be:

  •     Dare to be creative and go beyond our well oiled routines
  •     Dare to invade unusual venues and places with choral musicians
  •     Dare to set up goals and benchmarks to measure our progress
  •     Dare to team up with others who share some of your core values, even if they are not from the choral/musical/cultural field

    Dare to rethink your business model to better answer new expectations and lower tolerance to long term involvement.

Based on his wide range expertise, Brendan will provide us with some remarkable examples and models from other cultural fields, and hopefully inspire us to go out and reach out!


Brendan Jan Walsh is a classical music mutineer. 

Born in England (1979), bred in Belgium, trained throughout Europe and now living in Amsterdam, Brendan wouldn't mind having the European nationality.

As a music student Brendan felt the urge to do more than just perform on stage. He wanted to be part of a cultural revolution, to find new ways of linking music to the world. So he temporarily sold his artistic soul and was admitted to an elite business school, ESCP Europe. He consequently gathered professional experience in corporate world with the aim of linking it back to the cultural sector by working for companies such as L'Oréal, IBM, Société Générale Investment Bank and Lausanne Consulting before returning to the cultural sector to work for the European Union Youth Orchestra where the entrepreneurial bug bit him. He has just been accepted in the ISPA Global Fellowship Programme.

He is founder and owner of the strategic marketing company BRENDING, connecting the Arts to Business and Consumers by quantifying, qualifying and producing the value of creativity. Amongst its clients and partners BRENDING may count: the European Commission Representation Office, Rabobank, City of The Hague, Netherlandse Reisopera, Piranha Music.

Brendan claims to have no real job, but loads of work as a cellist, conductor, classical music deejay, consultant, lecturer, presenter and producer of artistic parties that break with etiquette, such as the Classical Music Rave which is a party where youngsters dance all night to - indeed - classical music.

People call him a music innovator, a musician gone corporate, an Indie-Classical expert, a one-man revolution or just ‘professor’ when lecturing cultural entrepreneurship at various conservatoires in the Netherlands. Belgium or Estonia. 

Brendan regularly speaks at international conferences, lectures, concerts and in the pub.

In his spare time, Brendan gives music workshops to Syrian Refugee children in Jordan and conducts the Nieuwendammer Shanty Choir in Amsterdam.





Bendan Walsh: Keynote Speech

Download the keynote speech HERE and the presentation file HERE


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