Haute Secrets with Anna-Sophia van Zweden

SOLUNA Director of Festival Advancement , Anna Sophia van Zweden
SOLUNA Director of Festival Advancement , Anna-Sophia van Zweden

May 16, can not come quickly enough for SOLUNA’s Director of Festival Advancement, Anna-Sophia van Zweden. The beautiful daughter of renown Dallas Symphony Orchestra Conductor, Jaap van Zweden, has not only managed to create her own successful niche in Dallas’ emerging music and art worlds, but has also played a key part in creating opportunities for the city to become a sought after cultural destination.

Having been influenced by the arts and music all of her life, van Zweden’s role at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s SOLUNA Festival could not have been a better fit. Her visionary philosophy on art combined with the ambitious program consisting of specially commissioned musical and visual performances has given birth to a unique element that separates it from other classical music festivals. In its second year, SOLUNA, which will run from May 16 until June 5, will feature commissioned projects from visual artists Anton Ginzburg, Mai-Thu Perret and Paola Pivi. The theme of this year’s program is “Myth and Legend” and will explore how the disciplines of psychoanalysis, anthropology and semiology have brought new interpretations to the function of myths. Opening night there will be a special collaboration entitled Rules of the Game. It is a multimedia performance with artist Daniel Arsham, choreographer Jonah Bokaer, featuring an original score by Pharrell Williams and conducted by David Campbell.

Before coming to Dallas, the artfully minded van Zweden received her Bachelor’s Degree from the Amsterdam School of the Arts, Reinwardt Academie in Cultural Heritage with a minor in Art History and Cultural History from the University of Amsterdam where she wrote her thesis on the relationship dynamics between private collectors and museums in both Amsterdam and Dallas. After coming to the United States, van Zweden attended the Art and Business program at Sotheby’s Institute in New York and completed her auctioneering training. While in New York she had the opportunity to build on her portfolio of work and assisted Armory Fair Founding Director, Paul Morris on Chosen, a small exclusive art fair for a select group of collectors.

Upon coming to Dallas, she worked under the direction of Charles Wylie, the Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art and also assisted Curator Maria de Corral with the exhibition Private Universes.

Among her many interests, philanthropy is always at the center of van Zweden’s heart and when she has the opportunity to combine her love of art with giving, it’s a dream come true. In 2011 to 2012 she served as the co-chair for MTV ReDefine, an art auction and exhibition of some of the world’s foremost contemporary artists benefitting the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and has served as an advisory chair from 2014 to 2016. In addition to her philanthropic work in Dallas, she is an active volunteer with the Papageno Foundation, a foundation started by her family that is based in the Netherlands and brings music into the homes of autistic children.

Since moving to Dallas in 2009, the van Zweden family has played an integral part in contributing to the evolving landscape of the city’s cultural scene and Anna-Sophia’s prolific career and intuition has created a powerful evolution in blurring the boundaries between art and music.

What is it that you would like to convey/communicate with your work? I would like to contribute to the already fantastic art scene in Dallas to bring something where institutions, artists, musicians can realize projects that might be impossible in other places and create a magical experience for the people in Dallas but also far beyond. I want Dallas to also become known for the special art projects that we realize here in addition to the amazing private collections and institutions.

What are your artistic influences? I grew up in a house full of classical music. My father used to be a violinist and was rehearsing all the time at home when he was not on tour. My grandfather is a pianist so he practices with my father a lot when he was young. There was always music and musicians from all over the world at our house.  Especially the violin has a special place in my heart because I am so used to the sound of that beautiful instrument. My mother is an art historian and actually a really good painter as well. She was the one hat took me to museums at a very young age and explained modern art to me. Our many visits made me interested in visual art. I am a very visual person and I have been drawn to video art and performance art from early on. When I saw Matthew Barney’s work for the first time I knew that I wanted to work closely with artists to understand how they work and what drives them to create.

What are your thoughts on the artistic scene and environment in Dallas? How do you see it evolving? The first time I arrived in Dallas I was so impressed by the amazing private collections and the kindness  of the people that I decided to do an internship at the DMA. Dallas has grown so so much since then and I am so glad I am able to experience this development. Not only the collections and institutions I also feel its becoming more active as well in terms of local artists who are very active and galleries. And of course the events such as TWO x TWO that Cindy and Howard Rachofksy started and MTV ReDefine. Dallas loves the events and the parties and so do I! But it is also important to invest in art and music education and to really learn about art and to get to know the artists, this is something I feel very strongly about as well and I can’t wait to see how Dallas will develop even more.. I feel we are just getting started!

Who is your favorite artist? Why? This is a very hard question and I cant answer it.. So many great artists! This would be asking who your favorite child is..

Is there a place in the world that inspires you? There are so many places in the world that inspire me and also many I still have yet to visit. India and Argentina are high in my to do list. Marfa was great and very inspirational. There is something inspiring to find everywhere you can learn and absorb a different culture I think. My recent trip to Rome was one of my favorites this year even though I have been there many times. It seems like you are never done with that city.. art history on every corner and I do have admit I have a special thing with Greek and Roman art and the culture.. I love marble! 

Can you describe a single habit that you strongly believe attributes to your success? I think it really helps if you are inquisitive.. I love learning about art and what drives artists and to help them realize projects you have to be able to think out of the box at all times and being flexible and able to work with different people on different levels.

Please elaborate on your role as Director of Festival Advancement with the Soluna International Music and Arts Festival ? My role is to identify potential collaborations and bring it to the team. I work with a curatorial consultant, Muriel Quancard, to find good partnerships and develop projects. I also work with the fundraising team at the Dallas Symphony to find philanthropic support for SOLUNA.

How do you see the Soluna International Musics and Arts Festival evolving in the next 5 years? Every year we learn more and more about what SOLUNA can be. We are learning about what partnerships are strong and which ones were not quite as successful. We have had huge successes and some events that didn’t perform as we’d like. And with that comes the knowledge and the strategy to program incredibly successful, and groundbreaking, events. In five years I see SOLUNA in a place where we are regularly developing projects for the upcoming years, planning and prepping for 2, 3, 4 years ahead. I see this three weeks of the festival featuring even more intriguing collaborations as we discover more partners internationally who want to be our partner. And mostly I see SOLUNA as a destination, an event where you plan to be in May because you don’t want to miss the excitement that is happening in Dallas.

What separates Soluna from other classical music festivals? We use classical music as our jumping off point, but it’s so much more. Nowhere are there festivals who are merging the disciplines of visual arts, dance, theater quite like SOLUNA. Most festivals are solely music or solely visual art. Here we blend that together to create projects that are truly greater than the sum of their parts.

How has Dallas’ art scene evolved? Tremendously! Dallas thinks big, and it will never settle for standing still. That can be seen in just about everything in town, but definitely the art scene. Our museums and galleries are attracting top talent as curators and collectors. The Dallas Art Fair is continuing to grow. Our musical ensembles are performing at levels that are competitive on the world stage. Dallas’s art scene is still not known as widely as it should be, but once people see what we are doing here, they are amazed. And that evolution has come from the leadership we see in town from the cultural administrations and from our philanthropic landscape.

Are you involved in any non profits or charities? I am involved in the Papageno Foundation. A foundation started by my family for autism treatment and music therapy. Since I have a brother with autism and my parents couldn’t find a right treatment for him, my mother started this 20 years ago. Last year they opened a house for young adults with autism where they can live and learn to become more independent focused on creative therapy, music and the arts

How does Dallas’ support of the Arts differ from Europe? It is completely different In Europe we are used to the government taking responsibility for the funding of the arts. It is so different you cannot even compare the two. It is very embedded in the cultures because it has been like this for so many years.. But Europeans have to get used to the recent changes and need to realize that the governemt cannot keep supporting the arts as they used to .. Citizens and coorporations need to step up and realize they need to contribute as well. Another reason why Dallas is so special with their generous patrons.. Without the support of donors we could never do what we do so I am very grateful for this and we need their support to continue to work on a high level because it is all about quality!

The Eye Ball at The Joule Hotel with a performance by Leon Bridges and special guests Quaker City Night Hawks
The Eye Ball at The Joule Hotel with a performance by Leon Bridges and special guests Quaker City Night Hawks

Where were you born: Amsterdam. The Netherlands.

How long have lived in Dallas:  I moved 7 years ago for the first time and lived between New York, Amsterdam and Dallas for three years. Three years permanently in Dallas.

Neighborhood: First in the Arts District/Uptown, now in Highland Park.

Occupation: Director of Festival Advancement at SOLUNA Music and Arts Festival.

Favorite Restaurant: Dallas has so many great restaurants. I love Tei-Ann, Le Bilboquet, True Foods is one of my favorites for lunch.

Best Sushi: Tei-Ann.

Best Italian: Americano at the Joule hotel. Their meatballs and cauliflower salad are my favorite. ( and I usually don’t eat meat ;)

Best dessert: Chia Seed pudding at True Foods or Quattro Leches cake

Best Sunday brunch: Le Bilboquet! I love seeing many of my friends there every time I am there!

Best place for a power business meeting: Pearl Cup the little coffee shop next to the Meyerson.

If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? The Joule hotel. Especially since I work in the arts and the Joule has a great art collection and lovely stores.

Favorite shopping venue/boutique: Forty Five Ten but I also love shopping with Josh at Neiman Marcus and Intermix. 

Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: Bill Noble or Eisemann in Northpark.    

Best Spa: The Joule Spa hands down!

Favorite Charity Event: Two X Two and MTV ReDefine.

Favorite Cultural Event: The opening of SOLUNA on May 17th!

Favorite Cultural Institution: The Dallas Symphony, The Nahser and the Dallas Museum of Art and the Dallas Contemporary. 

Best Steakhouse: I don’t eat steak but I don’t mind going to steakhouses. They usually have great fish dishes as well. I do like Nick and Sam’s and Houstons.

Best Lunch: True Foods or Gem for the heathy option. Le Bilboquet or Toulouse when I am with my father.

Best Gym/Athletic Facility: Tread Fitness and I love working out at the new Diesel gym wit my trainer James East.

Best Massage: The Joule.

Best Limousine/Driving Service: I just use Uber.

Best Museum/Exhibit: This is not easy as there have been so many great ones! I do love Piero Golia’s Chalet installation the Nasher as this wasn’t a traditional exhibition more of a curated experience. Every time it was something  else on the space and he collaborated with many local groups and artists. This is a concept I feel very strongly about especially because the visitor is able to participate and experience.

Describe your city in three words: Exciting. In flux.   

Best Aspect of Dallas: The people and the arts.