The young Austrian cellist Lukas Lauermann is known for having created new, contemporary ways of playing this centuries-old musical instrument. He has been selected by a jury for the so-called “New Austrian Sound of Music” (NASOM) program for 2018/2019. NASOM is a long-term sponsorship program by Austria's Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, promoting young Austrian musicians. Lukas will perform from his solo debut album “How I Remember Now I Remember How” on March 9, 2018.

How did you become a NASOM artist, can you tell us about the selection process?

A jury selects for NASOM the bands and artist who applied for the program. Even though I don’t have a concrete insight in the selection process, the jury selects those artists for whom such a support would be most beneficial. I guess, in my case it was helpful that I’ve already gained some experience abroad and played in different bands and formations over the last couple of years. Also, I’ve just released a solo album which made it easier to promote/book me as a solo artist. However, I think (and hope) that the main criteria is the quality of music.

What do you think of NASOM in general and what impact did it have on your personal career and work so far?

I enjoy traveling and being on the road, thus I’m very thankful being given this opportunity and to perform in different countries. Most organizers of events and festivals don’t pay for travel expenses. Having the Austrian Cultural Fora and Embassies (partly) cover these costs ultimately increases the number of possible engagements. In addition, the Austrian Cultural Fora often have good contacts to local venues and festivals, which is very helpful too.

It’s also my impression that the understanding for the positive long-term impact of the NASOM program has increased over the years since now not only concerts on the premises of the Austrian Cultural Fora and Embassies are being organized  but also more collaborations with local event and festival organizers. For instance, I was recently in Istanbul, invited as an NASOM artist by the Austrian Cultural Forum Istanbul and performed at the venue of the Cultural Forum, the following night in a club in the city center and the day after at an art university.

 Photo | (c) Andreas Jakwerth

Photo | (c) Andreas Jakwerth

How would you characterize the Austrian music scene, what are the possibilities and challenges for young artists?

For the last ten years I worked as a musician and participated in various projects with very different stylistic directions. That’s the reason why there is not one united Austrian music scene; there are many different ones which sometimes overlap because of musicians who feel at home in various genres.

My personal impression is that the quality and professionalism has increased immensely in the whole music industry over time, including the artistic abilities of musicians as well as the work done by record labels, promotion agencies or bookers. In addition, the international cooperation for us musicians is improving a lot as well. One of the biggest challenges for Austrian musicians of all genres is to perform outside of Austria. This is not only important for us artists, who want to play for an international audience but also because Austria has a small music industry and it is difficult to support a living only from the Austrian market.

How difficult is it to be a self-sustained artist? How can you keep the balance between artistic excellence and development of your own skills on the one hand and economical needs on the other?

If you are as passionate about something as I am about music you don’t even realize how much work you actually put in it or how hard it is to live from it. However, it’s important to be aware about not crossing your personal limits (at least for an extensive time period), since you don’t do yourself any good in the long run.

What recommendations  can you pass on to young colleagues who are still at the very beginning of their career?

Don’t focus too much on input from others but rather look for what you are completely passionate about. In the long run it is important to focus on the content and core of your music and not just following musical trends. At least this is what I have chosen in the past but there are many different and individually artistic journeys, which are equally right and therefore make the whole thing so magnificent and wonderful!

More information about the upcoming concert is available here.