Patrick de Clerck directed the biggest music festivals and concert series in Belgium (KlaraFestival, European Gala Concerts and Ars Musica). Audiences and budgets steeply grew in ‘difficult’ times. More and more he feels a need for global thinking and projects in music. Patrick curated the New Horizons festival in the Mariinsky theatre and founded 'Music Projects For Brussels' to make Brussels excel even more, from the most global of things to concerts for people who do not really want to be where they find themselves.
He used to be a composer. Now he is successfully composing new audiences.
Most would agree he has a healthy mind, and tries to keep his body fit. He dreams of riding motorbike again.
Besides Belgium he lived in France, Italy and Russia. Dresses in Ann Demeulemeester mostly.
Facts and Figures
Every cultural institution he has led has at least doubled its audience, while respecting budget.
When he arrived at the Flanders Festival for example, it had 6,000 attendees. Three years later the total was 23,000 attendees, which would not have been possible without a highly motivated and committed team. The fact that the programs were ‘demanding’ never played a role in the ‘selling’. This was again demonstrated in Ars Musica: upon arrival attendees stood at 5,000, when leaving after 2 festivals 15,000 people attended. In Mariinsky he inherited a sleeping festival, which managed to burst into life in one edition.
A budget was never exceeded, quite the contrary: in Handelsbeurs (a concert hall operating without public funding) he managed to generate 80% of the total artistic budget through box-office returns. In the Flanders Festival, he inherited a debt of €150,000. The debt was converted into profit within a year. The festival’s budget became profitable, going from €750.000 to €1.800.000 in a 3 year stint and the media value exploded from €50,000 to €1,300,000.
For Flanders Festival he directed two household names in Belgian musical culture: the KlaraFestival (International Brussels Music Festival) and the European Galas: prestigious events at the forefront of the music scene featuring concerts by the Berliner Philharmoniker, Concertgebouworkest, Philharmonia, Cleveland, Royal Philharmonic, Wiener Philharmoniker, etc.
KlaraFestival was a trend-setting music festival for a bigger audience. Benchmarking communication strategies and new tools have been developed: Festival on Tour, Village on the Road, Living Room Music, Sporza Musica.
As communication is the key to success, track records speak for themselves. How one communicates depends on many factors. For Ars Musica it had to be radical and wild, for New Horizons friendly and wise. Both approaches led to full halls.
Other Musical Praxis
General manager of Megadisc Classics since 2002, having been artistic producer since 1993, including the historic Ustvolskaya recordings with Oleg Malov, Silvestrov, Terterian, Sumera, Knaifel and many more, recording with musicians such as Argerich, Lubimov, Ural Philharmonic Orchestra.
If you wish to be more serious in an academic way: the following article (see Oeuvre) was written some time (1998) ago by Rein Meus about Patrick as a Composer...
Born in Ostend, Belgium in 1958, Patrick De Clerck started composing as an autodidact. He worked in several prestigious centres for electronic music, such as the IPEM in Ghent and the IRCAM in Paris, where he created compositions based on electronic sound manipulation. At age 23, he became frustrated with the self-oriented nature of this avant-garde and brought a drastic end to his activities as a composer.
Patrick De Clerck turned over a new leaf and plunged into popular music. He played bass in a couple of alternative rock groups, but eventually this turned out to be another dead end. In the mid-eighties, while working in fashion and music advertising in Milan and Paris, Patrick De Clerck became enthused by the Italian dance society Sosta Palmizi and wrote the music for a Raffaela Giordano production. This caused him to renew his acquaintance with composing and it gradually rekindled his interest in writing non-functional oeuvres. In 1988 he wrote a chamber opera, RE, and from 1989 he once again regarded himself as a full-fledged composer.
When composing, Patrick De Clerck wants to forget earlier achievements as much as possible. He tries to build each oeuvre from the ground up instead of being led by a particular style or technique. He writes commissioned compositions for renowned orchestras and institutions such as the Belgian National Opera (La Monnaie), the Quartet Danel, the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Ural, Patricia Kopatchinskaya and the Centre of Contemporary Music of Moscow.
On a professional level, Patrick De Clerck tries to take a position that will guarantee maximum independence. Apart from composing, he published his own music (Music Publishing House Dom Gorokhov), and was also one of the driving forces behind the Belgian music label Megadisc Classics. This label focused both on Belgian composers of contemporary music and on post-soviet music composed by the likes of Ustvolskaya, Silvestrov and Terterian. The atmosphere of De Clerck's own compositions fits in with the latter category. He also did classical music and look and feel for De Handelsbeurs in Ghent and was creative director of Flanders Festival Brussels and general director of Ars Musica. He moved to Mariinsky Theatr for the New Horizons Festival, and founded Music Projects For Brussels.
For those who read Japanese:
Lecturing on new models for festivals, cultural communication, marketing classical music, contemporary music, or praxis of contemporary music interpretation in the St Petersburg and Moscow Conservatories, Vilnius Conservatory, Winterthur Conservatory, Juilliard School of Music New York, Tallinn Conservatory, Goldsmith College London, Yekaterinburg State Conservatory, Antwerp Conservatory, Beijing Conservatory, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Nan Jing Culture group, Shanghai Conservatory and Beijing Capital University, The Kosovo Contemporary Music Festival, Shanghai International Arts Festival, Holland Festival, Moscow Contemporary Music Festival, European Festival Association – Keynote speech on working with China (Ostrava), Sochi Winter Festival.