Upwards #5

By Annette Zerpner Jan. 31, 2024


The stage entrance, next to which our South lift swings up and down at leisure, is a bottleneck. Everyone has to go through here. However, we didn't turn left after the glass door towards the casino and cloakrooms, but right, to the orchestra office. And with the same concern that regularly drives our orchestra members there: A few quick questions for orchestra manager Sophia Berendt! We did, however, pick her up for the lift ride

Are you a regular on the elevator south?

(Laughs.) I almost always avoid it, because I usually have to be travelling fast between the ground floor and the backstage area on the second floor – exactly where the elevator goes up and down. You see me on the stairs a lot more often!

When is your most stressful time?

Before rehearsals start between eight and ten in the morning, when everyone turns up. Or not, if someone is late, suddenly falls ill or has an accident. Then a replacement has to be found very quickly. In addition, there are always the soloists and conductors with whom I am in contact before the rehearsal: are they there, do they have everything they need? Sometimes I'm on the phone at the same time on different lines.

So you have to keep a lot of balls in the air and are dependent on many unpredictable factors?

Exactly. If there's a hitch or a mistake in one place, it usually has a pretty big impact on everything else in our company straight away. When I explain to friends what I do, I often like to describe myself as a fire extinguisher, because I have to solve urgent problems as quickly - and in a friendly manner - as possible!

What else is part of your job?

I connect the orchestra  to the HR department, but also to all other areas in the organisation, because everyone here has something to do with the orchestra. I liaise when questions and problems arise, whether with the orchestra committees or with individual musicians. I actually talk, write and phone a lot throughout the day!

Was there a situation that you mastered and that you are proud of?

Last season I had my first tour with the orchestra, and it went straight to Japan. That was eight very full days. The last two in particular, with their train journeys, were really tightly timed. It was important to me to always communicate well what was happening, what everyone was to expect and when to be where, so that the orchestra could do its job happily and relaxed. We didn't lose anyone on the way either. Yes, I was proud after the tour that it worked so well.

The door opens in slow motion. Someone outside is calling for Sophia.


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