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“In order to survive the orchestra needs to search for a balance between artistic tradition and economic reason.”

Director General and Artistic Director for the South Netherlands Philharmonic Stefan Rosu knows that the classical symphony orchestra is facing dramatic change in recent years.

In “The Orchestra in Transition” from PKN Maastricht Vol. 23, Stefan shows us that orchestras must adapt to survive, and he goes into depth on how it can do so without losing its essence in the process.


The City Focus this week highlights the Dutch city of Maastricht and its fantastic collection of presentations, latest of which are from last month's Vol. 23 -- visit the official event page for the presentations and event photos.

When you hear the word "concrete" you don't typically think free-flowing fluid or organic structures.

...It's likely you might think of bunkers, gray urbanity, and bleak high-rise structures. However, in "Textile-Reinforced Concrete: Material of the Future" from PKN Maastricht Vol. 20Kevin Pidun of Lehrstuhl für Plastik shows us that textile-reinforced concrete opens a new universe of surprising uses and forms for this gray material. 

"What do you call someone with two languages? Bilingual. One language? American." 

Oliver Olson has spent 17 years of his life in Europe. In "Welcome to Europe as an American" from PKN Maastricht Vol. 22 he takes us on a whirlwind journey through the many funny and unexpected surprises he has encountered as an American living in Europe. 


MBA30 students inspire audience with PechaKucha presentations at New Year’s event

This year, Maastricht School of Management decided to do something different to celebrate the New Year. Instead of hosting a traditional event with external keynote speakers, the school literally put its own students in the spotlight by giving them the floor and challenging them to present themselves in a creative and inspiring way to staff, friends and local partners and stakeholders.

Teaming up with the organizers of PechaKucha Maastricht, MsM took up thePechaKucha concept as a unique communication tool to help its students share their personal experiences, dreams and ideas with the local community.

PechaKucha was devised by Klein Dytham Architecture in Tokyo in 2003 as a fast-paced presentation format to showcase new ideas. The concept is simple yet effective: each speaker shows 20 slides, each for 20 seconds. PechaKucha events are now happening in over 700 cities across the globe and have grown into valued platforms for inspiration and networking.

During a preparatory session in early December 2013, two team members of PechaKucha Maastricht, Jean-Paul Toonen and Sueli Brodin, visited MsM to introduce the PechaKucha concept to the MBA students. Jean-Paul found the magical words to motivate them: “See this as your launching platform to the world.” The students’ reaction to the 20x20 presentation format was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, especially after they were given a chance to test their own creative skills by improvising a presentation on random slides.
 



It was a full audience of students, staff, partners in MsM’s mentorship program, members of the local business community and interested stakeholders who on 17 January came together to celebrate the New Year with a special and much anticipated PechaKucha session.

MsM Dean Director Wim Naudé kicked off the afternoon with a warm word of welcome and an informative overview of MsM’s activities and ambitions for the New Year. Ellen Narinx, MsM Career Center Senior Officer and coordinator of the Mentorship Program, then shortly explained the PechaKucha concept to the audience before inviting three students to take the stage.
 

 
The students, Vijay Wakchaure from India, Subhi Najjar from Syria and Abdul Iddrisu from Ghana, spoke in turn and conquered the audience with their authentic and vivid personal stories.

Vijay gave a candid and colorful comparison between his life in India and his experience in the Netherlands, stressing on the new and unexpected, at times even challenging things he had learned during his first three months at MsM. “I decided to face the audience from the bottom of my heart,” he said after the event. “My wife encouraged me and sent me a dress through courier. She told me to be dressed properly because dress code is also important when doing a public presentation. This experience also gave me a good opportunity to meet new people beyond my network.”

Subhi talked about his childhood dreams and how being sensitive to the signs that came along his path had helped him to convert his dreams into reality.“Giving a presentation at such level has always been a dream and thanks to you this dream came true. Now, I feel much more confident that I can deliver an excellent presentation when I have chance,” he said. “I believe that as MBA30 we are very lucky because beside receiving world class knowledge of management, we have been provided with other tools that really count and make all the difference in the world of business today.”
 



Abdul talked about all the meaningful moments he had experienced so far and the inspiring people he had met since arriving in Maastricht, expressing a sincere trust that his year at MsM would have a profound impact in his life.“I personally feel that PechaKucha was an opportunity for us to realize our potential and open the gates for us to sell ourselves and to discover new opportunities.”

The students’ inspiring presentations were followed by a moment of joyful entertainment and spontaneous laughter when four members of the audience were invited to do a collaborative PechaKucha improvisation on set of random slides.

 
With everyone in good spirits, the New Year event concluded with informal drinks and snacks in the MsM lounge and an announcement by Ellen that was met with a big round of applause: “Let’s make this first PechaKucha experience the start of a new tradition at MsM!”
 
By Sueli Brodin

Our warm congratulations to our former speaker Homam Karimi for winning EUR 500K in seed funding for his study platform StudyTube, presented at PechaKucha Maastricht in September 2009!

Watch Homam's compelling presentation at PechaKucha Maastricht here.

 

 

PKN Maastricht Vol. 14 Tonight!

PechaKucha Night in Maastricht Vol. 14 happens tonight (Friday, January 20) at the Ludwigforum, and here's a web teaser (and another one, and yet another one) that was produced to promote the event. Looks like a brain-fully good night is in store for all attendees!

By Martijn Kagenaar

De verliefde König plukte een Roos voor de bevallige dochter van de rijke Boer. De Prins ontspoorde volledig toen hij daarvan hoorde. Op de terugweg Van der Heijden stortte hij zich met paard en al in een metersdiepe Kuijl. Tijdens de begrafenis speelden drie Fiddelaers ‘Ave Maria’. In de verlatenPereboom-gaard sloegen rovers uit het naburige Kernland hun slag.

Donderdag is het twee jaar geleden dat Obama werd beëdigd als 44e president van de Verenigde Staten. De val van de Muur, de vrijlating van Mandela, de eerste zwarte president. Het was een historische gebeurtenis. Onze eerste PechaKucha Night zou daarbij verbleken. Pierre Buijs, Jean-Paul Toonen en ik knepen hem dus behoorlijk: “Zouden ze wel komen, zitten ze niet voor de buis?” Deze twijfel bleek een geweldige onderschatting van ons publiek. Onbewust bleek Maastricht te hunkeren naar zoiets als PechaKucha. Een half uur voor aanvang liep het al storm. Achter de coulissen draaiden dertien durfals zich warm. Kaspar König beet het spits af en daarna betraden onze pioniers de vloer. Sommigen deden het in hun broek. Heel begrijpelijk. Ga maar eens voor 250 mensen staan met jouw persoonlijke droom. In een moordend ritme van 20 dia’s die maar 20 seconden staan. In het Engels. Maar de ovaties waren luidruchtig en langdurig. Volkomen terecht. Onze helden toonden aan dat onze regio verrassend veel verse ideeën heeft. Dat zorgde voor een bijna spirituele sfeer.

Onze steden kiezen sindsdien voor duurzame en flexibele aankleding met vliegende grastapijten enkunststoffen breiwerkjes. Logisch, gezien de serieuze spelletjes waarmee in crisistijd de ego’s van architecten op de proef worden gesteld. Die geven de steden nu, geïnspireerd door graffitti-mantelpakjes, dagelijks een nieuw gezicht. Ze verrijken de straten met afvaldesign en interactieve straatkunst. En zo groeit de Eutropolis uit tot een schoolvoorbeeld van regiobranding en Europese cultuur. Toppers uit Milaan en Parijs presenteren hier hun nieuwe modecollecties.


 

En dat is nog maar het effect van de eerste PechaKucha Night. Zo volgden er acht. Vorig jaar versterkten Sueli Brodin en Nathalie Dirks onze trojka. Dat zorgde voor een spannende injectie vanexpats en wetenschappers. De teller staat nu op 112 sprekers uit 17 landen. Hun inspiratie is niet alleen beschikbaar in AINSI. Gisteren registreerde onze website het 33.000e bezoek. Als die mensen uit 96 landen gemiddeld één video bekeken, is dat weer 4.000 uur aandacht voor frisse ideeën uit de Eutropolis over:

Vorige week maakten we de balans op. We gaan door! Blijf je ons volgen?

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By Sueli Brodin

There are two expressions which still puzzle me in the Netherlands, because they are both very common and yet contradictory. The Dutch use them in all sorts of situations and to me they are typical of their unique double approach to life:

Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg”, or simply “Doe maar gewoon”: Just act normal, and you will act crazy enough, meaning “Blend in, don’t stick out from the crowd.”

This second expression is actually characteristic of the Dutch entrepreneurial spirit, which thinks in terms of yet another very common saying: “Gewoon doen“, or “Just do it“.

A quick check on Twitter shows that both #doemaargewoon#moetkunnen and #gewoondoen are indeed very popular hashtags among Dutch Twitterers.

Like many foreigners, my first encounter with a “Doe maar gewoon” moment was at my husband’s parents’ house when I understood that we were not meant to help ourselves to more than one biscuit from the biscuit box, because my mother in law closed the lid after serving everyone and put the box back into the kitchen cupboard.

But then, my mother in law is also the first one to smilingly give in to her grandchildren’s craving for a second piece of her delicious homemade apple pie: “Het moet kunnen,” she thinks out loud.

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At the Euregio-Taalregio Language conference in earlier October, Huibert de Man, a professor at theMaastricht School of Management, illustrated the same ambivalent cultural feature of the Dutch with an experience he had in India. He had asked a mixed group of Dutch and Indian students to prepare an assignment following a set of guidelines. As it turned out, the Indian students faithfully stuck to his instructions, whereas several of the Dutch didn’t. And much to the Indian students’ protest, he had not penalised the insubordinate Dutch for disregarding the guidelines, and had even rewarded some of them high marks for the originality they had displayed in their work.

The skill, especially for a foreigner, is to sense when the situation calls for conventional behaviour, or when it is possible and even welcome to bend the system.

At PechaKucha Night however, one thing is obvious: the appeal of the fixed 20 x 20 presentation format (20 slides x 20 seconds per slide) seems to lie precisely in the fact that it provokes candidate speakers into devising creative ways to experiment and play with it.

That’s how over the past editions, we’ve seen Liesbeth Schreuder perform her presentation about art for the blind entirely in the dark, Susan Schaefer integrate moving images and music into her poetry for change, two talks by Stijn Segers and Markus Bediako accompanied by a guitar and a djembe drum as well as a total improvisation on unknown images. 

And: “Het moet kunnen”, or just “Moet kunnen”: This must be possible, in the sense of “I’m going to stick out by doing this, but what the heck.”

New surprises were awaiting us again on our last PechaKucha Night, a special edition on Education and Creativity.

While some speakers drew their strength from the mixture of rich content and powerful visuals, such as Wim van den Bergh with his eloquent talk on Middles, Means and Mind, others decided to “trick the organisation” as Paul Iske laughingly put it when he presented his Combinatoric Innovation theory. On two occasions, Iske resorted to slides consisting of four smaller built in images which filled the screen one by one every five seconds.

Cyriel Kortleven also slightly deviated from the regular format by bringing a flip board along on which he made some drawings as part of his presentation, and by engaging the audience through questions and small exercises.

As for Airan Berg, the former artistic director for the performing arts at last year’s European cultural capital Linz, he outdid every performer we’ve welcomed so far at PechaKucha Maastricht, for he didn’t bring any slides at all. Or rather, he did, but they were almost entirely black, merely bearing the numbers 1 to 20.

Berg first showed us how to cross our fingers in a certain, quite unnatural way, and asked us to keep them like that until the end of his presentation. This slightly uncomfortable position, he explained later, was meant to help up stay alert and focused. Then he invited us to close our eyes and proceeded to describe a compelling educational pilot project he will be carrying out in 2011 in several schools across the Meuse-Rhine euroregion as part of Maastricht’s bid to become European capital culture in 2018. He started off all his sentences with the verb “Imagine” and so we imagined and visualised his dream, slide by slide, to the captivating rhythm of the 20 second sequence.

It was a very straightforward PechaKucha experience, because Berg did abide by the requested the 20 x 20 format, but undoubtedly a very creative one, since he made each one of us see a different presentation by entirely creating it ourselves.

Markus Bediako 02

It was also a demonstration of the point Wim van den Bergh had argued earlier in the evening, namely that creativity is generated, not by boundless freedom as often misconceived, but by rules and borders.

Considering that Airan Berg will now be joining the Maastricht artistic team for 2018, it looks like we’d better tighten our seatbelts for more “#moetkunnen” sensations and magical rides into the future.

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By Clare Canning

Monday evening in Maastricht saw the innovative AINSI play host to the dramatic return of the Pecha Kucha Night. Held in the city on six previous occasions, the global phenomenon aroused the interest of the Euroregion’s culture and media enthusiasts, who descended upon the factory-come-arts centre in spectacular fashion.

Based on one simple premise, a series of presentations of 20 slides shown only for 20 seconds each, the approach allows entrepreneurs and creatives alike to exhibit their thoughts, passions and oddities in a way which both excites, shocks, and often, amuses.

With ideas ranging from a quest to introduce pop music to the cultural venues of Maastricht, to the latest crop circle predictions, this occasion was indeed no exception. Participants were also all to present in English which for them, as stated by compère and co-organiser Martijn Kagenaar, made it ‘a little creepy’.

Pecha Kucha
 (Japanese for ‘chit chat’) hails from Tokyo and is the brainchild of the architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham. In 2003 they decided to introduce a quick-fire method of sharing new ideas in an informal and imaginative environment.

It is a concept since adopted by an astounding 352 cities worldwide. The Pecha Kucha team here in Maastricht consists of Pierre Buijs (Creovate), Jean-Paul Toonen (T36 Media), Martijn Kagenaar (Zuiderlicht), Nathalie Dirks (UM) and Sueli Brodin (Crossroads Magazine). For them, such ‘new and dazzling sources of inspiration are crucial’ given the city’s bid for Capital of Culture 2018. The international character and informal charm with which Pecha Kucha thrives also makes the event accessible for all.

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Being the first eager visitor to arrive on the evening, I quickly saw the vast space of the old factory canteen teem with what appeared to be old friends meeting. Fuelled by wine and a backdrop of sultry jazz, people mingled around candle-topped coffee tables and armchairs. No finer a venue than AINSI, a recently renovated 1920s cement factory, could be imagined. Great high ceilings exposing air vents and industrial machinery remain, adding to the vibrant and creative atmosphere evident before the main event had even begun.

And so to the speakers themselves. The event kicked off with Dan Potter, introduced by Martijn as a biologist by day and a ‘slightly deranged’ online cartoon writer by night. Creator of Walking the Lethe, an online comic dedicated to one man’s quest to try and get his wife back from heaven, Dan exclaimed ‘don’t be afraid of investing in creativity, don’t be afraid of investing in yourself’. A very fitting remark since the general vibe soon became one of the pursuit of various dreams you once thought you lacked the courage to make reality.

In the first half Dan was also joined by Angelo Vermeulen, an artist, biologist, filmmaker and activist who collaborates with advisors from the European Space Agency. His rather innovative approach to design sees the combination of both nature and technology in one living, breathing ecosystem.

Angelo Vermeulen 01

A personal highlight came from Ig Nobel prize winner Bart Knols and his presentation titled ‘the mosquito and the Limburger cheese’. Based on research stating malarial mosquitoes follow human odour, he found an interesting and unlikely way to disrupt the flight path of the mosquito using the regional cheese, ultimately making human contact less likely. Findings published on the 1st of April, he laughed, also led to a general belief it was a joke, only to be followed by an 8.5 million dollar investment from Bill Gates!

Equally as powerful was the presentation by Markus Bediako called ‘Africa = Eden’. Accompanied by friend and colleague Jodi Omankoy using a hand beaten drum, the pair invited us all to join and support them in their quest to return to the image of Eden. Something they view as a more reliable impression of the great continent than that which most of us are blinded by in today’s media.

One final performance, or ‘bonus track’ as it was advertised, came before the break from Chris Rosendahl. Based on the philosophy that if you’re going to laugh about it later why not laugh about it now, each of his 20 slides simply displayed images of people laughing, whilst the audience were taught some ‘laughter yoga’ moves. We were all instructed to stand, face those around us and laugh, sufficiently breaking down any social barriers which may have existed before, and leading us very nicely onto our beer break.

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After our return, further presentations came from Manfred Leuth (radical innovation), Mahdi Abdulrazak (cyborgs without surgery), Sanjay Sharma (it’s all in attitude), Koen Beumer (scar pride) and Egid van Houtem (software thinking).

Belgian born Youssef Joumani, the penultimate speaker, gave us an amusing and thought-provoking account of the various perceptions of himself conjured by others when hearing his Moroccan name. Upon finally embracing it after years of battling, he exclaimed some idiot decided to name a film ‘jumanji’, destroying his hard work!

Finally it was the turn of the first and only female participant, artist Tanya Ritterbex and her presentation ‘save the holy goblin’. Documenting her passion and artistic ventures, the audience was treated to a backdrop of inspiring images created by herself, nicely rounding up the evenings events.

Pecha Kucha night in Maastricht proved witty, provocative and often just plain weird. Moments of humour, delight and intrigue incited a relaxed yet engaging atmosphere which upon cycling back towards the city left me feeling satisfied.

For those of you who missed the chance to attend on this occasion the Maastricht team upload performances onto their website.

Also, do not fear, for Pecha Kucha Maastricht are organising another event in November. Participant applications are invited for those who dare!

By Clare Canning

Clare Canning has recently arrived in Maastricht as a Masters student, embarking on a course in Arts and Heritage: Policy, Management and Education at the University of Maastricht. She is originally from Manchester in the UK and enjoying the move greatly!

Videos and Photos© Pecha Kucha website©Bert Janssen

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