Laura de By

Since 1 January 2022, Laura de By (1991) has been business director of the Nederlands Kamerkoor. She earned her spurs at Nationale Opera & Ballet where she was, among other things, Press Manager and worked as Head of Public Affairs of De Nationale Opera since 2020. She obtained no less than two Masters at the University of Amsterdam, in Literary Studies and Art & Culture in the Public Domain, and began her career in Rome at the museum Il Chiostro del Bramante.

Laura de By

She was literally brought up with opera and classical music. "When I was three weeks old, my parents already took me to the opera where they took turns sitting with me in the so-called latecomers' booth. The other half of the time they then sat in the auditorium." Her mother is an actress, her father is known as "the opera dentist"; his practice in Amsterdam East mainly plays opera music. When she was eight, she already saw the entire famous Ring des Nibelungen in Pierre Audi's staging: sixteen hours of Wagner, spread over four performances. "During the interval, my sister and I would then go running around the square," she says.

Her first experience with the Netherlands Chamber Choir? She has to think for a moment: "Undoubtedly at one of the opera performances: Peter Sellars Only The Sound Remains (2016) stands out to me, Gesualdo, the project with De Warme Winkel in the Holland Festival (2018), aus LICHT (2019) of course, but also more recently Vergeten (2021) with Arjan Ederveen. A special project about dementia in which the Nederlands Kamerkoor showed that you can also tell very personal stories that are at the same time socially very relevant."

The Nederlands Kamerkoor has now been one of the world's top choral musicians for 85 years. What does its evolution into top art institution actually mean? Should we be worried?

She laughs: "No, on the contrary. Actually, it's not so much a transformation as a perpetuation of the course that artistic director Tido Visser and chief conductor Peter Dijkstra have long pursued with the Nederlands Kamerkoor: the choir is known for its groundbreaking concerts and series, for its unexpected and always exciting collaborations, for its socially relevant themes and for its great education and participation projects. While at the same time the artistic quality is and remains so high. As the Volkskrant wrote in 2016: 'The Nederlands Kamerkoor appears to be to choral music what the Concertgebouw Orchestra is to orchestral music: a leading top ensemble.' That's a nice compliment."

What makes the Nederlands Kamerkoor so special?

"First of all, that the core line-up (including the regular singers around it), is actually all soloists, they are all such good singers. Of course, Peter Dijkstra, our chief conductor, is of great importance. He really knows how to shape the timbre of the ensemble optimally. It is also important that everyone feels co-responsible for the end result, each member is co-owner of the artistic product, so to speak."

How do you see your role as business director?

"The position was created to give Tido a relief from his duties; he can now fully focus on the artistic development of the choir. Among my duties are all the business aspects of finance, such as implementing the collective labour agreement that recently applied to music ensembles. I am also ultimately responsible for matters such as sponsor acquisition, taking our audience, the Friends and Nobelkring members, stakeholders and all other relevant groups along in the development towards a top art institution in every possible way: through good internal and external communication, publicity and everything else. To sum up: creating conditions to achieve our mission - the 'what are we on earth for' - in the best possible way."

"I think the voice is the most beautiful instrument, so simple, but at the same time you can tell everything with it, the deepest emotions, the most beautiful stories."

Laura de By
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