What does your job include?
The audience generally only sees an orchestra attendant when he places the conductor’s score on the stand or checks to see that all musicians have arrived before the orchestra tunes up. That, however, is only a small part of the job. Basically, my job is to ensure that the orchestra has the optimum working conditions.
It includes a lot of physical shifting of stuff but also computer work. Today, we do a lot more advance planning than we used to, in order to ensure that imported productions will fit into our orchestra pit.
We draw up a seating plan for the pit for every production. In large productions and particularly in modern music it is often a very tight squeeze, with loads of percussion that has to be fit into the pit. Sometimes there is only one seating plan that works at all, and we mark that out on the pit floor.
In addition to seating plans for the pit and the rehearsal hall, we organise the ensembles that play backstage and manage guest performances and concerts.
We ensure that the piano gets tuned and put the orchestra’s parts on the music stands according to the seating plan.
Our work is shift work, following the Orchestra’s roster and the productions currently in performance. There are three of us, and we organise our work fairly independently.
How did you end up at the FNO?
I used to study stage technology, but I gave that up when I got a job as orchestra attendant with the Tapiola Sinfonietta on recommendation from a friend. There is no training for this work; I learned on the job there.
I joined the FNO as a permanent employee in 2009. In the summer, I work as an orchestra attendant at the Suvisoitto festival of the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra and as concert coordinator at the Time of Music festival in Viitasaari. Contemporary music is a good contrast to opera, but after two weeks of that you find yourself missing a good old tune!
I also work with other symphony orchestras on occasion. Breaking routine is a good way to prevent stagnation. Two years ago, I received the bronze merit badge of the Association of Finnish Symphony Orchestras.
We draw up a seating plan for the pit for every production. In large productions and particularly in modern music it is often a very tight squeeze.