Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam

RCO Meets Europe

Between 2016 and 2018, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra visits all 28 member states of the European Union in the course of two and a half seasons as part of the RCO meets Europe concert tour. In repertoire, in spirit and in practice RCO meets Europe serves to highlight the fundamental ideas and ideals that can hold Europe together. UNESCO has granted patronage. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has also expressed his willingness to act as patron of RCO meets Europe.


Europe is a unique mosaic of cultures, both ancient and modern. It is where, in the course of 1200 years, polyphony was developed: the interplay of several different voices, cornerstone of a multitude of music styles. The symphony orchestra and the masterpieces written for it are among its greatest cultural achievements.

Managing director Jan Raes: "If history and crises have sometimes fractured Europe's self-image, our common culture and heritage can provide a counterweight.Music can help people to share thoughts, ideas and feelings; the concert as an experience brings and binds people together.

Orchestral music in particular symbolises the idea of 'equality through diversity' – the true sense of polyphony.

In the face of political and economic challenges, now more than ever, we need to celebrate this uniquely European invention, which allows us to express a single idea through many voices so that we can discover the endless possibilities open to us to continue our journey into the future."

Side by Side - RCO meets Europe 

Side by Side

This European idea should also be transferred to younger generations. It is their heritage, too. During RCO meets Europe, in each country the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra performs one opening work Side by Side with members of a local youth orchestra. In addition, members of the RCO give masterclasses and lessons in several countries.

This will enable the orchestra to share its knowledge and experience with younger musicians, and to engage in lasting collaborations with youth orchestras across Europe.

Side by Side - Dublin

Side by Side - Amsterdam

Side by Side - Bratislava

Side by Side - London

Side by Side - Bucharest

RCO meets Europe essay contest

Essays by five European writers

From 2016 to 2018, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) is visiting all the member states of the European Union. As part of this special initiative, the RCO has asked five European writers about the meaning of music in their lives, each of whom has now written an essay based on the theme of RCO meets Europe. The writers are An De Bisschop, Amparo Serrano de Haro, Dave Sinardet, Erna Hennicot-Schoepges and Lasha Bugadze.

Inviting young writers in Europe aged 18 to 30

The essays are meant to be a source of inspiration for young, talented European writers. The RCO is now inviting young people in Europe aged 18 to 30 to submit their own essays while the RCO meets Europe initiative is under way. Essays should be at least 300, and no more than 500, words long, focusing on the role that music (classical or another genre) plays in the essayist’s own life. Those having penned the best essays will be invited to spend an all-inclusive cultural weekend for two in Amsterdam. The best essays will also be published following RCO meets Europe.



Submissions and any questions should be directed to

Read the nominated entries


Rules and conditions

With submission of your essay you agree with the rules and conditions.

Write an Essay