It was a student job with concert organiser Jeunesse that laid the cornerstone of her passion for music mediation work with children and adolescents—and today, this mdw alumna is responsible for education as part of the Concert Planning & Administration staff at the Wiener Konzerthaus. At the moment, she’s busy organising the final event of KlangBildKlang together with her alma mater.

Sophie Löschenbrand came to music early. Her aunt, a teacher at a local music school, took Sophie along to work even as a small child. It was as a three-year-old that the Upper Austria native then started taking recorder lessons. She went on to attend the upper-level academic secondary school in Kirchdorf an der Krems with a major in instrumental music and spent her seventh-form year on exchange in the USA.

© Leo Kalab

Löschenbrand ultimately did justice to both of her main interests by earning a teaching degree in music and English as well as studying recorder in the mdw’s Music Education for Voice and Instruments (IGP) programme. “I absolutely wanted to study recorder but by no means wanted to neglect the English language—so this combination seemed obvious.” During her studies, the present-day educator took a job with Jeunesse – Musikalische Jugend Österreich, an organiser of concerts for young people. She started out as the Jeunesse employee with onsite responsibility for the children’s concert series Cinello and went on to spent her summer breaks during the years that followed working at the organisation’s “OrchesterCamp”. She made good use of the opportunity to get acquainted with this area of work that so interested her, in the process familiarising herself with numerous aspects of cultural management. “Though I don’t work there anymore, the OrchesterCamps are still very close to my heart. They let me watch kids and teens develop over several years, and I’m now encountering many of them again in my present area of work—which is a special joy.”

It’s just wonderful to see how the music captivates the kids and keeps its hold on them through the entire programme.

At the beginning of 2020, following graduation from the mdw and just prior to the first COVID-19 lockdown, Sophie Löschenbrand joined the Concert Planning & Administration staff at the Wiener Konzerthaus. “Before I’d really gotten my bearings there, I was forced to grapple with a completely novel situation. That period was a huge challenge but also very instructive: it taught me to be flexible and spontaneous.” Around the same time, the mdw alumna completed an extra-occupational certificate programme in music mediation at the Anton Bruckner Private University in Linz. She views the contacts made during that experience as a huge enrichment. “In this field, networking is very important. You’ve got to immerse yourself in the bubble and connect.” Since September 2021, Löschenbrand has been employed by the Konzerthaus in a cultural management capacity with responsibility for education together with her colleague Mira Possert. Their work includes the development, planning, and realisation of formats for young audiences.

KlangBildNatur: Young mdw talent lab participants joined forces with stage director Philipp Lossau to develop a concert that highlights the connection between music and nature. © Leo Kalab

A particular labour of love for her, as a dedicated educator, is her institution’s programme of annually rotating school sponsorships in which one selected institution at a time is given access to all of the Wiener Konzerthaus’s mediation offerings. “As part of our cooperation with these schools, we and our musicians also go and work together with the kids in class. We then conclude with a concert where the school students not only put together the programme but also take charge of programme booklet and poster production, ticketing, and stage technology under the supervision of our experts. And last but not least, they also take the stage themselves. It’s a fantastic concept.” Sophie Löschenbrand describes her work focussed on children and adolescents as a challenging but also wonderful and fulfilling mission. She’s particularly fond of the connections that arise with other art forms such as acting and dance plus working together with digital graphic artists. “I enjoy the interdisciplinarity and freedom we have in putting together this programme. What’s more, the kids are an extremely honest audience who give you direct feedback as to whether something does or doesn’t work.”

For me, as a former student, working together with the mdw is a special pleasure.

Right now, Löschenbrand is in the thick of organising the concluding concert of KlangBildKlang at the Wiener Konzerthaus, which will take place on 22 June and is included in a subscription series for families with children ages nine and up. “For our subscribers, the project with orchestra in the Great Hall is sure to be a special experience since the other concerts in series like this one aren’t usually held in spaces that large.” The day before this concert, the Konzerthaus will present a repeat performance of KlangBildNatur—a programme created in cooperation with the mdw talent lab in 2023. “For me, as a former student, working together with the mdw is a special pleasure, and I hope that this close relationship will be upheld so that we’ll be able to continue realising joint projects.”

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