Marlene Ito took up her post as principal second violin in March 2020 in difficult times: in the middle of the Corona pandemic: the orchestra was allowed to play again for concert broadcasts in the Digital Concert Hall, but the musicians were seated two metres apart. “I could only hear myself,” the violinist recalls. “I was comforted by the thought that if I didn’t hear the other second violins, it meant we were playing well together!” The musician has now passed her probationary period in this position. Congratulations!
Marlene Ito, who comes from Japan, is well qualified for the task: after studying at the Sydney Conservatory, the University of Music Lübeck and the Berlin University of the Arts, as well as a scholarship to the Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker, she began her orchestral career as second concertmaster at the Komische Oper Berlin. From there she joined the Berliner Philharmoniker in September 2011 – in the second violin section. “I was lucky enough to be able to observe our wonderful section leaders from the perspective of the group for nine years,” she says.
Her tasks as a section leader are very varied: she forms the link between her group and the concertmasters, leads the orchestra when the first violins are silent, and occasionally has to play solo passages. There is also a lot for her to do in the run-up to rehearsals and concerts: writing down and checking the bowing marks in the sheet music and, of course, rehearsing and internalising her own part perfectly. What else is important to you as a leader? “An authentic body language that corresponds to the music. What I like about this orchestra is that we section leaders give impulses, but don’t present everything on a silver platter. We give musical instructions regarding phrasing, articulation and volume, but we also leave room for our colleagues to express themselves individually.”