In 2010 five event organisers from five different cities working together with the NRW KULTURsekretariat launched Soundtrips NRW, a format to create a state-wide network for improvised music. Nine years and 45 concert tours later and this network has turned into a success and now has 11 participating cities and an international reputation. This fact was celebrated from 31st October to 3rd November with a four-day festival in Moers, Bonn, Wuppertal and Münster.
For that reason, from 1st to 3rd November six international music journalists were invited by the International Visitors Programme to take an in depth look at the improvised music scene in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The guests came from Israel, Canada, Austria, Slovenia, Spain and the USA to attend the festival’s concerts in Bonn, Münster and Wuppertal and to meet up for talks with the Soundtrips NRW curators, participating musicians, and the director of the NRW KULTURsekretariat – Dr Christian Esch. It was during this visit to the NRW KULTURsekretariat that the idea for an international collaboration and possible expansion of the festival came up, working potentially with Réjean Beaucage in Québec, Canada.
Alongside this, the guests participated in an international conference entitled »Philosophies of Improvisation/ Improvisation als Gestaltungspraxis« in Bonn.
Furthermore, the visitors were introduced to institutions, artists and experts who work in the field of new and improvised music in NRW: in Münster they met Anja Kreysing and Helmut Buntjer, respectively musician and curator of »schwarz-weiß ist die bessere Farbe« (black-white is the better colour), Martin Schlathölter and Simon Mertens, members of b-Side, as well as Michael Kolberg, musician and member of the initiative for improvised music »Initiative Improvisierte Musik«.