Classical:NEXT is back, with a new concept, new sponsors, a new team, and new momentum, and gathered in Berlin. The 2024 conference has increased in size and duration. The number of participants reached an all-time high of over 1.400. The event was framed by an opening ceremony in the Pierre Boulez Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, which was impressive both in terms of musical quality and diversity, and a boat trip on the Spree on the last day. In between, there was a very diverse and colourful mix of lectures, discussion panels, concerts in unusual locations, marketing campaigns, business meetings, etc. All in all, very different players and stakeholders were given a stage to present themselves and their ideas and concepts.

As for the Higher Education part, former AEC Chief Executive Stefan Gies, now AEC Senior Advisor, together with Manus Carey, Deputy Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, provided both a pre-conference workshop and a ‘Meet Up with the Higher Music Education sector’ session, which received very positive feedback from the participants. 

In a panel discussion entitled ‘The Future of Music Education‘, two representatives of AEC member institutions, Andrea Tober from Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin and Daniela Peclová from the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts Brno, met a young Mexican orchestra manager who was educated in the US who facilitated the session.

While the Classical:NEXT meetings in previous years had always suffered from the fact that they took place in continental Europe, but the vast majority of participants and many presenters came from the Anglo-American world, the background of the audience was much more balanced and diverse this year. In this respect, the opening up of the event to a truly international audience is a very significant achievement of the new C:N.

Although the event sees itself as genre-specific and has the word ‘Classical’ very clearly in its title, genre fluidity was a topic that ran – spoken or unspoken – like a common thread through many sessions and concerts. In particular C:N participants belonging to the younger generation felt appealed by this. 

Post-genre thinking, it seems, has arrived at Classical:NEXT. We are excited to see what happens next. C:N 2025 will take place from 12-15 May 2025.