The AEC Annual Meeting for International Relations Coordinators (IRC) 2023 took place in September at the LUCA School of Arts – Lemmensinstitut in Leuven (Belgium), bringing together 220 participants in presence. Online sessions took place on 8 and 13 September before the event in Leuven that took place from 20 to 23 September. 

Have a look below to relive all the sessions!

Online Sessions

Leading up to the in-presence event, two online pre-conference sessions took place on the 8th and 13th of September. The first session featured a warm welcome for newcomers by Dimitrios Marinos, a member of the IRC Working Group, followed by an engaging discussion on ‘The Global Musician’ led by Anothai Nitibhon, soon to be a president of SEADOM – Southeast Asian Directors of Music. In the second pre-conference session, participants explored a variety of workshops, including discussions on the TUNE – Traditional Music Undergraduate Network in Europe project, ‘Opening doors through Lifelong Learning’ by the ARTEMIS Lifelong Learning WG, and ‘Encouraging the development of Digital Skills and Culture in Conservatoires’ by the ARTEMIS Digitisation WG.

In-Person Event

The 4-day in-person event provided opportunities to learn and grow as well as network. 

Wednesday, 20 September

Prior to the event’s official opening, around 100 International Relations Coordinators (IRCs) gathered for a workshop centred on the new EASY Mobility Online system. This informative in-person training session provided a comprehensive overview of the system, and went through the system settings, the application process and EWP matters in detail. The workshop was guided by the Mobility Online team.

Photo credit: Malou Van den Heuvel

Thursday, 21 September

After the official welcoming remarks, the event opened with a keynote on “Opening Doors Through Inclusion” by Aygül Günaltay-Weyler.

A series of parallel sessions in the afternoon gave the participants the opportunity to explore different topics such as inclusion, Blended Intensive Programmes (BIPs), internationalisation beyond Europe with a closer look into KA171 projects and partnerships with third countries, sustainable practices at an institutional level, challenges and best practices connected to traineeships.

Friday, 22 September 

The day opened with a session on AI offered by two members of the ARTEMIS Digitisation Working Group: Enric Guaus and Thom Gilbert. After giving a general introduction to AI, the speakers discussed methods of assessment, proposed strategies for navigating these challenges and discussed the opportunities that may emerge in responding to the use of this technology in higher music education.

The talk was followed by an update on EASY and the Information Forum that allowed the participants to present the following initiatives:

Presenters had the opportunity to meet participants in the Information Market.

Later in the day, the participants had the possibility to split into various discussion groups and deal with internationalization at home, issues related to student mobility, staff mobility and cooperation projects, global mobility in the Pacific region and new mindsets.

The participants also had the chance to participate in an “ARTEMIS Safe Space” which is a new session dedicated to in-presence participants at AEC events. The attendees are welcome to join the ARTEMIS safe space, shaped as a discussion group, in which they were encouraged to give feedback about the event itself and situations experienced in their institutions with particular attention to diversity, inclusion, gender equality and non-discrimination matters. The session was facilitated by the members of the ARTEMIS Gender Equality and Non-discrimination Mainstreaming Task Force (TF3)

The afternoon was dedicated to the usual Networking Activity, which this year featured a guided walk in the charming old town of Leuven, which ended with a “singing-in-the-rain together” moment at the Oude Markt, where participants could enjoy a free beer with their fellow IRCs.

The day concluded with a concert by the LUCA Chamber Orchestra performing Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Nights Dream as well as the closing dinner. 

Photo credit: Malou Van den Heuvel

Saturday, 23 September

The day started with an inspirational talk by Anothai Nitibhon, Vice President, Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music and soon to be President of SEADOM – Southeast Asian Directors of Music, moderated by Deborah Kelleher, AEC President. 

AEC IRC 2023 Anothai & Deborah

Photo credit: AEC Office

Anothai encouraged everyone to open their minds and adopt new creative approaches when it comes to music education, involving local communities while encouraging intercultural exchanges. 

The participants later divided into groups to reflect on the event and offer feedback and suggestions on the AEC work on international relations.

The AEC Annual Meeting for IRCs 2023 came to an end with the Closing Session, where the Royal Irish Academy of Music (Dublin, Ireland) was announced as the host for the next IRCs meeting in 2024.

AEC would like to warmly thank everyone who made this IRCs meeting possible, in particular, the hosting institution LUCA School of Arts – Campuslemmens in Leuven and the IRCs Working Group but also all the speakers and many participants who attended the conference.

We hope our community has been enriched by the connections they made and the lessons learned! Looking forward to building more inclusive and accessible environments for everyone in Higher Music Education.

Photo credit: Malou Van den Heuvel