A Newbie’s Adventure at Classical:NEXT
Embracing the Chaos of Networking

Edit Palinkas  /  May 22, 2024

Have you ever found yourself knee-deep in a project, staring at a fork in the road, utterly clueless about which path to take? When your project is hefty enough, the best move is to dive headfirst into a sea of like-minded individuals. And that’s exactly what I did: I took the plunge and registered for the long-awaited Classical:NEXT conference.

The Magic of Classical:NEXT: A Networking Nirvana

Classical:NEXT is the Mecca for anyone with a stake in the classical music world. Whether you’re there to promote your ensemble—as a member, leader, or manager—secure work as a distributor or producer, find performers for next year’s programs, or spread your projects worldwide, everyone has a mission. But there’s a common thread: networking.

I grew up with the motto “You never know who’s behind the pillar,” and this holds true in every aspect of life. You never know what the future holds or the impact of a chance encounter, often revealed years down the line. Armed with insights from last week’s three-day experience, we’re now ready to dive into new concepts and projects. The real challenge will be maintaining this momentum and communicating it to partners, sponsors, and supporters.

First Impressions and Unexpected Encounters

Before diving into the details, I must confess this was my first time at such a grand event. Typically, in similar situations, I’ve been the quiet observer. But this time, I knew that wouldn’t cut it. The program was too good, offering too many opportunities to stay on the sidelines.

Before the official conference even kicked off, I attended a preliminary lecture on the state of higher music education. And guess what? I immediately received the answers I was looking for — a surprising twist that set the tone for the entire event. From that first step, I knew which direction to take in conversations and where to seek connections. I found quite a few valuable contacts right off the bat.

Along the way, I stumbled upon unexpected information and influences, all pointing in the same direction. For those who know me, two areas truly capture my interest: music and architecture. Surprisingly, I made an unexpected connection in this field, and soon, we’ll be taking our first steps in this project.

Collaboration: The Heart of Innovation

One of the most enlightening aspects was witnessing numerous examples of successful collaborations, whether between musical organizations, musical and nonprofit organizations, or even musical and corporate entities. To the skeptics in Hungary: there is hope for these collaborations, but we need to cultivate an open-minded organizational attitude that encourages more of them. It takes creative ideas and the skill to pitch them, but with mutual interest, anything is possible. I was also pleased to note that there were a few areas where the presenters couldn’t tell me anything new, which is crucial for confidence.

But I must emphasize, the goal here is not knowledge acquisition but networking — understanding each other’s experiences, grievances, and solutions, especially for small organizations like ours. Even a single spark of inspiration means success.

Small Steps, Big Impact

Globally, there are numerous challenges in the classical music field that, while I may be a small player, many small organizations can drive significant change, both in terms of musical professionalism and community-building, as well as mitigating social segregation. Several of my new initiatives received validation, which is a good sign that we’re heading in the right direction. Let’s just say, soon you’ll learn more about the links between dyscalculia and music, music projects in social institutions, the YouMu project, the new Őrség Music Academy, and even the musical inspirations behind our new fashion brand.

Embracing the Journey

Don’t forget, the most vital aspect of Classical:NEXT is networking. While it’s a skill you can learn, the key is to be present, initiate conversations, and approach people. For those who have been hesitant due to fear — like me — this event is a golden opportunity. You’ll find that others will reach out to you, boosting your confidence until it becomes second nature.

It was an eye-opening experience for me that offered valuable insights, unexpected opportunities, and a renewed sense of purpose. It’s all about diving into the chaos, seizing opportunities, and again, most importantly, engaging with people. Trust me, there’s no better feeling than attending such events and having people greet you and inquire about your progress on the second day of an international conference.

Let’s keep the momentum going and make the most of the connections and inspiration we’ve gained. Here’s to new beginnings and exciting projects ahead! Cheers!