5 Questions for... Michael Hoffmann-Becking

11 July 2018

Michael Hoffmann-Becking has been Chairman of the MCO Foundation since 2014. Ever since he first experienced the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in concert – where the orchestra performed Elias in Stockholm, in August 2010 – Michael Hoffmann-Becking has been a tireless advocate of the MCO.

During the annual MCO Foundation meeting in the Berlin office, the MCO spoke with Michael Hoffmann-Becking about his role at the MCO Foundation, what he values most about the MCO, what makes the MCO stand out on the international orchestra scene – and why its groundbreaking entrepreneurial spirit is especially worthy of support.

What has the MCO Foundation achieved in the ten years since its founding?
What are the goals for the next 11 years, until the MCO Foundation too becomes 21?

Excellence in music deserves, and requires, support. The role of the MCO Foundation can best be compared to cultural funding in the United States, where financial backing of cultural institutions comes from private, not public, sources. We have developed a network of private supporters that continues to grow. In the past ten years, the financial volume of the Foundation has expanded considerably; this is a remarkable success in a market that is otherwise heavily subsidized. I am proud of what the MCO has achieved independent of substantial and long-term public funding.  
We will keep on working on expanding our circle of supporters to even better reflect the MCO’s character: a nomadic collective of international musicians committed to both excellence and to bringing transformative concert experiences to audiences around the world.   

What is it that makes the MCO worth supporting?
How do you go about generating support for the MCO?

An openness towards different countries and cultures – which you can see through the diverse nationalities of the MCO’s members, as well as the breadth of their touring – and the entrepreneurial spirit bringing all of them together: this is the DNA of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. The MCO does not receive regular public funding, which means that it has to generate income through its touring. Each project is an entrepreneurial venture.

In addition to referencing the excellent quality of the orchestra, I try to encourage potential supporters to attend a MCO concert. Only through listening to the orchestra live can one experience, up close, the MCO “spirit” and be infected with the orchestra’s spark of enthusiasm.

What do you look forward to the most when you attend an MCO concert?

For me, the perfect MCO concert is when you see that all musicians are in good shape and fully present, under the direction of a conductor they like and respect. And I love to listen to this world-class orchestra and to see the joy the musicians show in playing together. This is something that you can feel in all of their concerts.

What are the encounters like between MCO Friends and the orchestra?

Over the years, meetings between MCO Friends and the orchestra have become more frequent. Many of them happen spontaneously; sometimes, there are regular meetings. I find it important that a concert – regardless of whether a public concert or a house concert – is always part of the experience. You are often more inclined to support something after having established a personal connection, and the same applies to the MCO. Classical music is, after all, also a “people’s business”.

Describe the MCO in five words.

Excellent, independent, entrepreneurial, open, friendly.

Photos: Mahler Chamber Orchestra / Geoffroy Schied