How to Conduct Life: An outside-the-box festival!

You’re invited to look, feel, think and act outside the box! On Wednesday evening, March 13, the Noord Nederlands Orkest organizes How to Conduct Life – an outside-the-box festival in the Oosterpoort in Groningen. Join us on an evening of talks, workshops and performances full of surprises by artists, scientists, writers and musicians. .

PROGRAM (in English)
18:30 Doors open
19.00 – 19.15 Opening (don’t miss this!)
19.15 – 21.30 Program (pick and mix!)
21.30 – 22.00 Exclusive NNO concert
22.00 – 23.30 Afterparty!

The program will give you tools and inspiration on how to conduct your own life. The world offers many possibilities, but seems increasingly complex and chaotic. So how do you stay with yourself? Do you embrace the chaos and see it as the path to renewed order and balance? Or do you prefer to hold on to the old familiar?

The evening program is inspired by the life of a musical outsider: the American composer Charles Ives. He put old music into a new setting in a totally authentic way. A hundred years ago he wrote his Fourth Symphony, about searching for light in the darkness, getting lost in the mind and embracing resistance and everything that comes your way. Because that, Ives believed, ultimately leads to true freedom and creativity.  


So here is the evening’s timetable. Scroll down for more info about the program. Let’s conduct life!

Host: Lucas De Man

The evening will be hosted by Lucas De Man: cultural jack-of-all-trades, artist and entrepreneur. Not only does he moderate the program; Lucas also has his own talk show during How to Conduct Life: Lucas is shaking the habitual. Scroll down for more!

Unleash the future!

How do we envision the future? And how do we wish it to unfold? Humans tend to rely on a dominant future image, which limits possibilities. Loes Damhof introduces 21st-century skills of the Futures Literacy method, challenging conventional thinking about the future. What happens when we are open to exploring the future and don’t let ourselves be paralyzed by complexity and assumptions from the present?

Loes Damhof is UNESCO Chair Futures Literacy at the Hanze University of Applied Science,  researching how people think about the future. She offers consultation and training globally, guiding faculties, students, and organizations in utilizing the future and navigating uncertainty with adaptability and foresight.

Pianoverse - Bea Galán

Delve into the endless sound possibilities of the piano through the music of Charles Ives and his contemporaries, opening and looking inside this magical music box. Pianist Bea Galán, a graduate of the Prince Claus Conservatory of Music, will take you on a musical exploration.

Feel free on the dancefloor

Tonight, there’s nothing else to do than to bring your (newfound) freedom to the dance floor. Alter à Go invites you to do that with them!

Alter à Go is a Groningen-based performance team. They embody diversity and celebrate uniqueness, to make everyone in their audience feel worthy, while at the same creating an atmosphere of unity. They cover many creative genres, such as dancing, costume design, and performance workshops.

Beyond Ecstasy

Mystical experiences, such as religious epiphanies or psychedelic journeys, have the potential to provide individuals with a profound sense of purpose and understanding. How can the transformative character of these transcendent encounters be explained? In a world where many grapple with a meaning crisis and a sense of purposelessness, Michiel van Elk investigates whether these induced experiences could serve to restore a sense of meaning.

Michiel van Elk, is an associate professor at Leiden University, where he heads the Psychedelic, Religious, Spiritual and Mystical (PRSM) experiences lab. He studies altered states of consciousness using a variety of different methods including field research, phenomenology, psychophysical tools and neuroimaging techniques.

Driving, spirited and fiercely unapologetic: Groningen based DJ Coco Coquelicot brings a distinct blend of club sounds, in which she unites warm grooves with heavy rolling bass. Behind the exhilarating beats lies a theme of connection – not only between different music genres, but also between people. The energetic set not only invites dancing but also encourages reflection on the power of unity and solidarity. Coco demonstrates that music can be a powerful tool for bridging gaps between diverse communities and for bringing about social change.

In 2023 Coco became a part of Hit the North (ESNS) under the wings of Isis van der Wel and was nominated for the Groninger Cultuurprijs. Some of the places she played at: Lowlands, Wildeburg, IsBurning, Milkshake, Eurosonic, ADE.

Cut the Crêpe

Cut the Crêpe bakes organic crepes at festivals across the country: sweet and savory, vegetarian and vegan.

Roots Revival

An interactive musical happening in which old and new come together: for Roots Revival, students of the Music in Education program of the Prince Claus Conservatory of Music were inspired by Charles Ives. He was known for radically arranging the old into something new in his compositions.

Based on questions such as “Who am I?”, “Where was my cradle?”, “What is the music of my region?”, and “What stories are told there?” students created new music with material from the past, coupled with who they are today. They used special instruments, from the collection of instrument maker Evert Kluter. This collection, consisting of folk music instruments from northwestern Europe, can be heard in the performance and provide the surprising mix of old and new.

The Market

At The Market you’ll find new and young makers and creatives exhibiting and selling their work. These Groningen based women are all just starting their businesses. Be amazed by their art, stickers, clothing, bags, jewelry and more. Most of the products are made from recycled materials or second-hand items that are given new life. Each item is unique and sustainable.

Feeling overwhelmed?

To feel well, it helps to do things you find important or fun, that you feel you are up to your tasks, and that you have some sense of control. But how to organize this in a chaotic world where everything seems important and urgent? Marie-José van Tol will talk about how the brain processes information, and how we can help ourselves to feel better and less overwhelmed when chaos is all around.

Marie-José van Tol works as a professor of Mood & Cognition at the University Medical Center Groningen and studies how the brain plays a role in developing and recovering from depression. She is interested in flexibility of the brain, and how this can be improved so that people can better adapt to their environment.

Traditional Collective

Let Traditional Collective give you a warm welcome. An ensemble of unprecedented contrasts: ceremonial and modern versus virtuosity and stateliness. In exceptionally contrasting line-ups, with percussion on large rope-tensioned drums and melody on piccolo. Nothing is too crazy for this marching band!

Order in Chaos!

Experience the power of collective creativity! Discover, improvise and share your unique contribution during this dynamic workshop led by Jan Ruerd Oosterhaven. The instruments are present; your participation completes the experience.

Jan Ruerd Oosterhaven is an artist, teacher at the Prince Claus Conservatory of Music and workshop leader at Embrace Netherlands. He designed the ImproMachine to inspire students to let go of traditional musical structures and experiment with improvisation. His philosophy: creating space for individual expression and breaking through conventional musical paths.

Ecstatic Dance

In this musical journey, you can experience a deeper connection to your body and inner authentic power source while dancing freely. This can lead you to experience natural ecstasy. While being emerged with the rhythm and frequency of a diverse music set, ecstatic dance teachers Tim and Leonie will help you tap into the wisdom of your own body and experience a profound sense of unity with yourself and others.

Together, Leonie Tiemessen en Tim Borchert form a vibrant duo. They love the journey of music and create a safe space for others to dance freely and connect to the inner self. Leonie is kind and gentle, she guides you into a meditative space with her warm and relaxed voice. DJ Sokka is known for his diverse taste in music that flows from ambience into tribal dance music for a profound musical experience.

Lucas is shaking the habitual

Charles Ives embraced everything he heard in his youth: church music, hymns, fanfares, folk dances. He tossed all that music into a big drum, processed it, and placed it in a new context. A revolutionary radical rearrangement from the old to the new.

Cultural entrepreneur Lucas De Man welcomes speakers, artists, and the audience to his sofa. How do they deal with chaos? Do they, like Charles Ives, embrace the unconventional, or do they stick to what is familiar? Or perhaps they have some tips on how we can open ourselves up to the new?

Part 1: Elements of Charles Ives’ work may seem like total chaos, but it is meticulously staged. He leaves nothing to chance. Is there such a thing as organized chaos? Can we comprehend chaos? With neuropsychiatrist Marie-José van Tol and futurist Loes Damhof, Lucas tries to grasp our inclination towards order.

Part 2: Charles Ives was inspired by transcendentalism, emphasizing the unity of the individual soul with nature and the divine. It influenced his unique composition style, where any sound occurring can be considered and appreciated as music. Can you open yourself to his unconventional style? Do you surrender to (apparent) chaos? With neuroscientist Michiel van Elk and dancers from Alter à Go, Lucas explores how we can learn to embrace the unknown.


How to Conduct Life – an outside-the-box festival is organized in cooperation with Studium Generale, the University of Groningen and the Hanze Hogeschool. The program is a co-creation with students from various courses of both educational institutions.

How to Conduct Life is part of the program Immense, Impressive; Ives – An Insane Spectacle of a Musical Outsider. With this multi-day event, the NNO pays tribute to the extraordinary composer Charles Ives in various ways.