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The Art of Leadership

Rethinking a relationship

Farbverlauf im Hintergrund

I refute the myth that the best quality art comes from the archetype of the solitary artist-genius.

I refute that we need competition and confrontation to produce high quality art.

I have a curiosity to explore the best practices that complement the artistic WHAT with a professional and contemporary approach to the artistic HOW.
What kind of art is waiting for us when we create an environment of real trust, consciousness and mindfulness? What is waiting for us beyond ego?


This is how I see leadership.


Inspired by my collaboration with the conductor-less orchestra Stegreif Orchester Berlin (and other Ensembles with a similar approach), I am constantly developing potential new forms of artistic co-creation between conductors and orchestras. More and more freelance orchestras want »a few days of hierarchy«, whether that is help for a structured rehearsal process or simply an ear from the outside. Fundamentally, these orchestras are looking for new conductor-less concert forms, as a complement to the traditional relation between conductor and orchestra. There are wonderful  sides to this traditional relationship,  but what if hierarchy could be just used as one of many tools? A temporary possibility to be utilized when necessary and helpful rather than an unshakeable requirement to create art. What if we start to make other smart alternatives visible? Many artists feel that the hierarchical system is outdated and old-fashioned, and yet we don't yet dare to change it.


There are very successful leadership teams everywhere, such as in science, business and politics. Why not in orchestras?
Conductors are conditioned by traditional hierarchy to see themselves as lone warriors set apart from their colleagues. Is this really necessary? It does not suit conductors to have too much power beyond their concrete artistic responsibility, just as it does not suit musicians to have their own say and artistic identity completely absorbed into the collective of the orchestra. Does it really serve the art’s best possible outcome for the diverse abilities of an orchestra’s musicians to be ignored? Beyond playing an instrument, many orchestra musicians have much to offer that in the current system would never be discovered.


I am not calling for an abolishment of competence-based hierarchy and to then let everyone conduct, stage, or manage. Oftentimes singers appreciate a director who takes matters into their own hands, just as orchestra musicians are happy to have a clearly worked-out, inspiring concept for a Mahler symphony. Everyone is happy to go along with competence-based hierarchy for one or more weeks. But developing annual programs, creating and implementing education programs, finding soloists, discovering new composers, signing holiday passes, settling disputes between the horn and the clarinet player… all of these processes could certainly be managed through a more conscious and shared responsibility. This could mean initiating more bottom-up processes in the orchestra instead of all matters being dealt with through top-down instructions.

I experienced a production of Mozarts »Entführung«, where it is common knowledge that the libretto teaches us how humanity triumphs over tyranny. This message was clear on stage. Back stage it was the complete opposite! Tyranny ruled 100 %. People in dispute refused to speak to each other, others were scared of being fired after the season. In the artistic team there was no trust, much competition, no honesty…Where was the value of the evening?
Will the time come when the audience notices that what they see on
stage is just a show, some sort of fake news? That the highest values of art are not lived, not even believed or valued in either practice or theory by the performers?

  • Why is it still so difficult to find places, where art is produced out
    of a healthy, balanced, conscious spirit?

  • Why don’t we seek to create circumstances of lifelong artistic development for all artists involved in a theatre, not only for the 5% of artists on top?

  • Why don’t we rethink our error culture?

  • When will we start eliminating all kinds of fear from the artistic work?

  • When will we talk about deceleration, about being able to do enough well rather than always being on the verge of burnout?

  • »We live in an age where quantity is seen as preferable to quality, and many people tend to work in a horizontal line: next, next, next. But if you do that, you never investigate the vertical line - the depth of the piece.« says the British stage director Simon McBurney.

  • People still worship the myth of the lonely, obsessive artist genius who works 18 hours a day and has no life outside the theater’s walls! Why is it
    still a taboo to believe in a different balance?

  • I have a great curiosity to find out what happens when we encourage and educate all artists in a workplace to have more self-responsibility and self-care.

  • What if we could finally create a family-compatible working environment 
    for conductors, stage directors, directors, singers, dancers?

  • What if the (mostly) mothers that are not permanently employed at a
    theatre would not share this underlying feeling anymore, that having a 
    family makes them less valued, reliable or attractive as artists?

Please visit the website of my friend Verena Usemann, whose work with »Bühnenmütter« addresses this particular issue in the field.


Now that I have discussed the HOW, I will give the WHAT the last word: in a world of transformations and insanities of all kinds the wonder of music is still there, waiting for us to discover ourselves within all its beauty, spirituality, and healing power. I am not asking for some sort of superficially, nice, politically correct, not -addressing-any-conflict-art. Let's be clear, strong and full of expertise as we approach the honest essence of what we are doing.


Any and all spaces that inspire and bring significance to the human experience are highly needed. I want to help making these spaces visible and create new ones.

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