Ulysses – a European odyssey for young artists

The Ulysses project is inspired by an illustrious generation of 18th Century artists who wandered all across Europe, visiting the greatest masters’ workshops in order to improve and to complete their skills. Following the steps of the Homeric hero, their odyssey was an initiatory journey paving the way for future generations of young European artists.

The idea of the Ulysses network is to rekindle this tradition by inviting hundreds of young contemporary classical music artists to develop an individual experience based on encounters, exchanges and sharing with tutors and fellows from different cultural backgrounds within the most renowned European music institutions. By benefitting from periods of experimentation, of production and of confrontation with the audience all across the continent, Europe’s finest young artists will be given a unique opportunity to develop their careers and share their talent with new audiences.


Current situation in Europe: main issues identified

Aware that they meet the same issues in the context of globalization, the Ulysses partners decided to share their experience and their expertise in order to produce a common analysis about the situation and the difficulties that young European artists encounter in the beginning of their careers. After two years of exchanges, the following facts have been identified and remain to be tackled:

  • The connecting zone between higher education structures and professional circles tends to weaken since it is inadequately addressed in the context of a rapidly changing university and research environment
  • The professionalization process is often limited to only one artistic “genre” which don’t communicate with each other (dance, theatre, music, visual art, film)
  • The financial burden on many cultural venues leads to a focus on ‘safe bets’ (old repertoires, neo-traditional works, standardization of production), following a logic of profitability.
  • Limited means of production, thus unsatisfactory working conditions for young artists
  • The limited mutual professional knowledge regarding activities and emerging scenes across Europe makes cooperation hard between professionals from different countries. This causes a lack of ambitious cooperative artistic projects gathering operators and artists with different European origins, and a lack of European mobility of works created by young artists
  • A low level of innovation and European open-mindedness, preventing many institutions from going beyond local cultural tradition and aesthetics (Anglo-Saxon and Nordic; South European and French; Germanic, Central European, and Eastern European)
  • Traditionally limited audience for contemporary classical music, insufficient presence of new music in mainstream classical music broadcasting channels (concerts, radio, television), and difficulty of going beyond local visibility


The European added value
All the issues mentioned above are shared by all partners of the Ulysses network, who are convinced, after two years of meetings and comparative analysis, that the remedy to this situation can be found only by sharing experiences, expertise, means and projects at a European level. The demand for such actions is strong. It comes not only from music professionals all over the continent, but also from composers, performers and most importantly, the European audience.

In order to do so, the organisations involved in the Ulysses project have agreed on the following objectives:

  • To encourage the mobility of young European artists by providing them with the opportunity of practicing their passion in the best European venues dedicated to new music.
  • To favour professionalization of young artists, by facilitating encounters and work sessions between them and internationally recognized musicians and composers from other countries.
  • To enhance mutual knowledge of the different cultural identities and aesthetic traditions coexisting in Europe (Anglo-Saxon and Nordic; South European and French; Germanic, Central European, and Eastern European traditions). To favour permeability between these cultural spheres, by creating individual enrichment and local emulation.
  • To stimulate interdisciplinary and innovative art forms across Europe, especially by using new technologies.
  • To support transnational production of new works by enabling cooperation between different European artists and/or institutions.
  • To support the circulation of new musical works across Europe.
  • To create a network of highly qualified European professionals involved in programming, production and promotion of new music.
  • To enable the systematic documentation and filing of artistic works and methods, and the dissemination of this knowledge to a large audience and professionals all over Europe, notably through the use of new Medias (for example, via the Ulysses platform and the use of online social networking tools).


The European cultural model, especially in the field of education and professional training greatly differs from the Anglo-Saxon world, where the separation between public academia and major private operators encourages standardization. The Ulysses initiative is designed to reinforce the European model, by promoting cultural diversity, inventiveness, youth, encounter with young audience, in a context of globalization of culture leading to standardization of cultural products.