Read the interview with Margot Hoiting in Buhne

 In Actueel, CityProms 2021

In the latest issue of Buhne – the culture magazine of the North – our director Margot Hoiting tells the story of CityProms. About the origin of CityProms, about beautiful, wonderful music, but also about inclusion and diversity, participation, community (the mienskip) and social cohesion. And of course the upcoming anniversary edition of our festival from 2nd to 10th October.

The free culture magazine BUHNE is an initiative of Volle Zalen. The 72-page magazine offers inspiring stories and an extensive calendar of what can be experienced in Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe this (late) summer.


Here you can read the interview in Dutch  The translation is below the image.












Translation of the article:





As a young girl she heard, through the wall, her neighbour’s children playing Mozart’s “Turkish March” and lay in bed humming along. It was written in the stars that she would end up in classical music. But she could not have dreamed that, in a few months, she would see the tenth edition of ‘her’ CityProms, the largest open-air classical music festival in the north. High time for a conversation with Margot Hoiting.

text by Marc Knip


“I was born in Groningen, grew up in Harlingen and graduated in 1991 as a flautist from the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Even back then it was difficult for a musician to get work, so I started arranging things myself. I played in the Concertgebouw, founded my own music company and was co-director of an impresario. Actually too many to mention! At the beginning of this century I moved back to Harlingen and set up Muziek aan Zee. It was a really great thing to do, but in the end I got the itch: I wanted to do something with classical music again. I went to secondary school in Harlingen and played in the Frysk Youth Orchestra, so I really got to know lots of people.”



“The idea for CityProms formed gradually in my head. I started lobbying the then City Councillor Isabelle Diks and she thought it was a really good idea, especially in the run-up to the Cultural Capital year. I immediately got the promise of three years financial support. If you want to set up something in Friesland, you start with ‘de mienskip’, the community, with the enormous wealth of art practitioners that this province has. I found out that there were about 230 orchestras and over 500 choirs active in Friesland. And those are just the registered companies. That’s a huge base. I thought: these are not only our participants, but also our audience. With that in mind I started building the festival. Young talent was added, members of the Noord Nederlands Orkest and the Concertgebouw Orchestra and so on.


As a festival we have a clear story and profile: we consciously work from a broad base. Our start point is making music together, with art as a binding factor. Ideally that can be absolute top quality work, but it doesn’t have to be. And make no mistake, the amateur orchestras are sometimes so good that they can easily compete with the pros. It is the experience which comes first and that is sometimes quite difficult to explain in this sector. I am married to an Englishman so then you get what community arts means. That concept has helped us a lot in thinking about who and what we want to be as a festival. CityProms is about beautiful, good music, but also about inclusion and diversity, participation, the mienskip (community) and social cohesion.”



“That is also the reason why we specifically commit ourselves to social organisations such as Embrace Nederland. This group sets up programmes in the field of music and well-being for vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, newcomers in The Netherlands and the homeless. Embrace’s Artistic Director, Philip Curtis, co-developed a music and dementia module at the conservatories of Groningen and The Hague. We knew immediately that we had to be involved.


The anniversary edition is very full. For example our youth performances, an important pillar for me, are again top quality and are all played live. The brothers Frank and René Groothof are also in the programme, which is great. We have an experienced business director in Tjeerd van Bekkum and this year Johan de Meij was appointed as guest curator. As a conductor and brass band composer, he searches out talent in the community.


Memories? Yes, I remember the first edition very well. I had heard a thousand times ‘you won’t succeed, Margot’ and there I was. It was a very satisfying feeling. I never expected it to grow into what it is today. In this edition of the festival we will have more than 900 participants from more than a hundred locations in Friesland and abroad. We are ready for the tenth edition! We are supported by the Cultural Participation Fund and recently I was spontaneously embraced by someone who said: ‘It is so great that you are doing this.’ So yes, we did succeed.”



CityProms Festival will take place this year from 2nd to 10th October. Normally this free event lasts three or four days, but as it is the tenth edition, the festival spans over a week this time.

CityProms is a free music festival with indoor and outdoor stages, with a focus on classical music. The main stage is in the very heart of Leeuwarden, right in front of the Fries Museum on Wilhelminaplein. Taking part are 1500 musicians – a mix of professionals and amateurs – from (mainly) Friesland, the northern provinces and the rest of the world.

The festival likes to reach out to people for whom (classical) music is often not accessible. There is a concert by the Homeless Orchestra, newcomers are involved in front of and behind the scenes – for example as part of the media team – and every year there is a musical performance by people with and without a disability. HBO students celebrate 75(+1) years of freedom with a ‘Soldaat van Oranje’ performance during the festival. Margot Hoiting: “Our new slogan will be Move to the Music. And that is for to everyone, for every single person. CityProms actively chooses for a society that functions on the basis of equality.”

The Noord Nederlands Orkest is a regular guest and is itself paying for the opera concert. In addition there is the Concertgebouw Jazz Orchestra (with an ode to Stevie Wonder), Marinierskapel and the Dutch Swing Collegeband. The famous duo – guitarist Izhar Elias and soprano Channa Malkin – will perform in the Palace of Justice. CityProms often presents an extensive children’s programme. Supporters of this are the brothers Frank and René Groothof, who are responsible for the festival opening with ‘Circus Charms’.

Part of the programme has been conceived by guest programmer and composer Johan de Meij. And during the closing weekend NPO4 radio producer Ab Nieuwdorp will look after the main stage performances.

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