News overview

RCO meets Europe gets off to a very successful start

06 July 2017

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra pursues its concert series throughout all twenty-eight EU states.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra kicked off RCO meets Europe, its ambitious tour of all twenty-eight EU member states, in August 2016. The orchestra's passionate plea for the power of music to bring people together and the importance of a multiplicity of voices has attracted international attention and garnered high praise from critics and audiences alike.

While on tour, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is performing the opening work on one concert in each country with members of a local youth orchestra, an initiative called Side by Side. RCO musicians will also be giving lessons and masterclasses in a number of countries, thus sharing their knowledge and experience with younger generations and creating sustainable partnerships with youth orchestras throughout Europe.

Emotional reception

The first season of RCO meets Europe saw the orchestra stopping off in Ireland, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Greece, Austria, Slovakia and the UK.

The main highlight so far was the enthusiastic and emotional reception of the concerts it gave in London. A trumpet player in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain performing in the opening work summed it up as follows: ‘I think this tour could open up music to younger people … and also prove that Brexit (and all things like it) can be overcome by music.’

The coming season

Next season, the orchestra will be pursuing RCO meets Europe with performances in England, Germany, Belgium, Romania, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic and France. It will be collaborating with the following youth orchestras:

RCO meets Europe will be entering its final stretch in the autumn of 2018.

Essay competition

As part of its RCO meets Europe tour, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is organising an essay contest. Young, talented European writers aged eighteen to thirty are invited to submit an essay on the role that music, classical or otherwise, plays in their lives. Essays by five renowned European authors – An De Bisschop, Amparo Serrano de Haro, Dave Sinardet, Erna Hennicot-Schoepges and Lasha Bugadze – were commissioned by the orchestra to help inspire the contestants.

So far, the orchestra has received sixty-five submissions from young writers all over Europe. The winners will be invited to spend a cultural weekend in Amsterdam, all expenses paid, including a visit to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In addition, the best essays will be published after RCO meets Europe has concluded.


Through RCO meets Europe, the orchestra and its new chief conductor Daniele Gatti aim to highlight the basic ideas and ideals that unite Europeans and make Europe what it is.

Jan Raes, Managing Director of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, says, ‘Where crises today are undermining Europe’s self-image, music can provide a counterbalance where needed. It can help people share their thoughts, ideas and feelings with one another. The shared emotional experience through music can bring people together. Orchestral music in particular symbolises the true value of a “polyphonic” sense of diversity.’

UNESCO has granted patronage to RCO meets Europe. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, is patron of the tour.

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