An innovative leadership model for the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis of the Academy of Music FHNW, Switzerland

An innovative leadership model for the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis of the Academy of Music FHNW, Switzerland
As of September 1 and upon the retirement of Thomas Drescher, the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, institute of Early Music, will move to a new collaborative leadership model. This will allow for an even wider variety of skills and competencies to be represented within the management team, and address the challenges of our times through the sharing of responsibilities among the members of the team. The new leadership team consists of: Kelly Landerkin, C. Federico Sepúlveda, Martin Kirnbauer, Brigitte Schaffner as well as newly elected Christian Hilz, previously at the University of the Arts in Bern. Kelly Landerkin will be chairperson from 2022-24.

The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, world-renowned teaching and research institute for Early Music founded by Paul Sacher in 1933 and now an institute of the Academy of Music FHNW, deliberately avoided seeking a new superstar director. Not only the challenging years of the Corona pandemic, but above all the different and more complex demands on the managements of today's public institutions have made it clear that a single person can hardly do justice to all content-related, structural and operational management tasks at hand. While some theaters and festivals have already taken on pioneering roles in the cultural sector through their team leadership models, this is still seldom the case in the university sector and is also a new form of management for the Academy of Music FHNW.

Diverse competencies and backgrounds
Currently ca. 200 prospective professional musicians from all around the world study at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, and the lecturers are both established in the cultural scene of northwestern Switzerland and active internationally. "We would like to represent this diversity of backgrounds more strongly in the leadership as well," says Kelly Landerkin, chairperson of the new management team. The five members of the team complement each other in their professional expertise, with specializations in music of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, from Baroque to Romantic, in music theory, research, organology and arts management. They also offer both internal and external perspectives: Kelly Landerkin and Federico Sepúlveda studied at the Schola and are heads of degree programs, Martin Kirnbauer and Brigitte Schaffner have been working at the Schola for several years after many years of experience in the university and cultural sectors, and Christian Hilz will add his experience from outside the Schola.

In addition to the excellent and internationally renowned education in historical music practice, the new management will also focus more strongly on preparing students for the professional world and developing their artistic personalities. The music market is changing, and experiences from the last two years, especially regarding digitalization, call for new, dynamic and innovative strategies. The prestigious institute on the campus of the Academy of Music in Basel offers excellent conditions for this. The requisite expertise and commitment to Early Music form the basis for international networks, and Basel itself is a city rich in culture with many performance opportunities including new digital formats.

Cooperation in the management team
Detailed preparations were needed in order to establish acceptance for a management team. Processes must be adapted for organizations no longer lead by just one director. The new management team has experience in teamwork and lean management and looks forward to taking up its new role. This model is also fitting for the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis: After all, performing together without a conductor is one of the core skills in the field of Early Music. The team premieres on September 1.

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