The SOM (Student Orchestra of Münster) was my home orchestra from 2005 to 2013 (2011 to 2013 being a long-term relationship from Hamburg). The SOM also played a key role in my career path.
The SOM encapsulated much of what I love about playing in orchestras: A weekly routine to leave my studies and later research behind. A group of people of different ages and with different backgrounds, connected through friendship and a common project. And of course the music, creating a powerful language to experience the emotions from different countries and centuries through art.
The SOM has also been one of my first major leadership learning grounds. I joined its board in 2008 and was heading it from 2009 to 2013, part of which I also acted as managing director. During that time, the SOM went through a major change when its founding conductor stepped down. I was fascinated by the complexity of the social dynamics when we designed the transformation period and the process to find a new conductor – very different from my experience as a mathematician, where finding the best solution was not about opinion and preferences, but logic and maybe elegance. At the SOM, I had to juggle our communication, PR work (local journalists liked the story of conflict at a 50 year old orchestra, which our sponsors didn’t), finance, ongoing administration, event planning (we had concerts for children planned within few weeks), and the application and assessment process. And yet, the most fascinating part was culture, the net of interests, ideas, and concerns within the orchestra, their positive energy and the destructive power they brought. In that time, I learned about the importance of leadership – and decided to spend the next years of my life to learn more about it.