Interview 2019

Ralf d. klepper - Managing director

This interview was conducted with SuonaVoce® International (SVI) Managing Director Ralf Klepper (RK) in late 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic situation with all its effects especially on cultural exchange.

RK: During my last couple of visits to Australia I had the opportunity to meet and have discussions with personalities in the Australian classical music scene. Without a doubt the first and most important message I received was the very high level of interest from various Australian Orchestras to have access to Europe and perform on European venues. So, our goal now is to develop the right strategy to make this possible. Of course, the focus of this projects must be on structure, and the implementation of key elements such as effectiveness, affordability and successful outcomes. The other key is working with companies and governments to show them their own gains when they use the vehicle of cultural exchange as an accelerator for higher ROI.

RK: One of the projects is the creation of a logistic path that would facilitate and direct regular collaboration among young music students from European and Australian Universities. We are already working on an established but “sleeping” project between a Queenslander and a Bavarian Music University. Another international opportunity arose when one of Australia’s major symphony orchestras asked to plan an extensive European tour.

The programmatic wish of our Australian friends was brilliant! But unfortunately also extraordinarily extensive, not to say gigantic: two orchestras, two choirs, far exceeding one hundred fellow travellers, etc. Together with two renowned international partner agencies, we had worked out a detailed plan with budget forecast to bring this class ensemble from Australia to six capitals or important cultural centres. In the end, the difficulty was that they could not generate the necessary funds.
RK: Yes, there is a project idea called Bewitched Summer Event in Western Australia.  This one is much more complex and will require far more capital investment and human resources. The plan is to to develop a major event to fulfil the requirements of Tourism Western Australia. They have the task of finding and funding large scale events which help Western Australia to stay recognized as a modern, welcoming state for tourism, business, education and living, at the same time giving industrial development new impetus. This is a large three-part project with a lot of decisive challenges. On the one hand it shall bring both Western and Aboriginal culture to a joint life and on the other hand, it offers countless opportunities for all parts of the WA society and economy – that is, if it is done properly!

The next idea is to try to establish a Festival of the great Australian symphony orchestras alternately in one of the major capitals of Australia and to become internationally acknowledged. We would call it A.W.E.S.O.M.E. from Australian and World Excellency Symphony Orchestra Music Event. Every two years (biennial) one of the five major former ABC orchestras would host a festival in their home city inviting all the others to join in. A New Zealand orchestra should also be included to take part on a regular basis. 

In addition, another great international orchestra should be invited as a guest. This international orchestra can  reciprocate by inviting the hosting Australian orchestra to their home country to perform concerts.

RK: Yes, of course there is hope! In talks with my Australian counterparts, one of the most visible reactions was that of curiosity and the feeling of desire to get such events established. They would love to have these things up, running and doing well.

During my studies at the Graduate School of Business of the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, I had the opportunity to research a nation-wide survey that could filter out chances and opportunities for more successful cooperation between business, government and culture for the success of such events and tours. Such a market research would be extraordinarily interesting and surely also purposeful to accomplish.

RK: Music is my life and my passion. Planning good and valuable things, helping the world to “improve” a bit, that’s my even bigger passion! For me it is a matter of course to perform regularly at the highest level here in the EU and to travel the world to special events, concerts and shows.  It is clear that opening up new avenues in the music world requires a lot of planning, market research, surveys, discussions and negotiations. This is exactly what we want to do until industry, business and government partners understand the value and benefits of such large collaborative projects even in more depth.

RK: So far we have been active as a non-profit organization and will probably do so for some time to come. 

We are a family-run start-up business with two branches: one in Germany and one in Australia, which unfortunately has not yet been realised. We develop and offer ideas and projects. For example, we offer a plan and can help with implementation, networking and other services such as travel and tour planning, budgeting and sponsor acquisition.

However, we cannot be producer and promoter at the same time without having received the necessary funds from a third party. It is not our job to book venues, hire equipment and employ artists and orchestras alone to prove the feasibility and success of our ideas. We rely on a good reputation, trustworthiness and a “good” brand. Our way is the initiative and consulting and the cooperation with and mediation of already successful agencies and companies on both continents and New Zealand.

RK: While the big project designs still need time, we were able to consult with individual artists that I met in Australia. As an example, I can mention the music director of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Alondra de la Para, and Nicholas Cleobury, former head of the Opera Queensland Conservatory of Griffith University, Brisbane. Both will come to Munich in 2020. Hopefully in 2020 an orchestral composition by the wonderful Australian composer Margaret Brandman will be played in February in Berlin.

We are also planning a concept to bring aboriginal composers to Munich.

RK: Well, there is a stated interest from Germany and Australia to do more towards a stronger partnership. Our Australian partners have done very well so far; they included Germany as a priority country in the international cultural stream of the so-called Catalyst Program.  The Australian Cultural Diplomacy Program was presented in many interesting shows in Germany in 2016. On the German side, we have to admit, our partners are a bit slower in this cooperation so far. We hope that SV can provide both sides with a point of contact defined by our capability to connect, plan and carry out what was the declared intention on both sides.

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