As the oldest orchestra in Ohio and the sixth oldest symphony orchestra in the U.S., the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) would not be where it is today without the musicians and conductors but also those behind the music. Working day in and day out to get the word out about the magical ensemble is Director of Communications, Meghan Berneking. Although a pianist, Meghan didn’t quite see herself working in music or in communications for that matter, but she loves it. As one of the driving forces at the CSO, we caught up with Meghan to learn more about her journey, her day to day and the CSO itself.
Was it originally your plan or dream to have a job in music?
Not at all. I originally planned to go into journalism, and so it’s rather ironic that I’ve now joined the “dark side” of PR! I have played piano my whole life, and that music background has certainly come in handy, but I never thought it would be my career.
What brought you to the CSO?
In college my major was English and I picked up a minor in music. I was looking for jobs after college and the position at the CSO opened up; it was a good fit considering I do quite a lot of writing and knowledge of music is a plus.
What’s your day to day look like? What does your position entail?
My day to day changes quite a bit. The Communications Department at the CSO is small but mighty, and we work closely with all the other departments in the organization, so I feel as if I get a taste of everything. My position is primarily that of a storyteller—making sure the world knows about the Orchestra’s myriad activities and goals. More concretely that involves media relations (coordinating interviews, writing and distributing press releases, etc.), managing many of the CSO’s publications such as the program book and annual report, social media, etc.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
Yes, especially if I’m buckling down on something. What I listen to varies dramatically on my mood. Everything from classical to Americana and pop.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I teach piano lessons on the side. I love that I have the opportunity to continue to play and watch my students when something “clicks.”
What’s something you’d like people to know about the CSO?
It’s an immensely complex organization. It’s not just the CSO—under the umbrella is the Pops, May Festival, Vocal Arts Ensemble and Music and Event Management, Inc. (which manages Riverbend and the Taft Theatre), not to mention countless partner organizations. My colleagues both on and off stage are incredibly smart and talented to keep it all running. I learn from them every day.
What’s been the most rewarding thing working in music/ with the CSO?
Working with and spending time with the musicians and guest artists is absolutely my favorite part. To be around so many true masters on a nearly daily basis is very humbling. They invest their whole selves into music-making, and the insights and humanity they bring to it are such a gift not only on a professional level, but a human one.
As a woman in Cincinnati music, do you feel that your gender has ever hindered your path? Do you feel that you have to work harder to get your voice heard?
I can’t say I’ve experienced any difficulty due to my being a woman. We are fortunate enough in Cincinnati to have many strong female leaders on and off stage, and I’m happy to count many of them as friends and mentors.
March is Women’s History Month, in celebration, CincyMusic.com will be featuring important women behind the music scene in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is the home of so many amazing women within the music industry. These women include; a Venue Owner, a well known DJ, Educators, the First Lady of Cincinnati Music, an Assistant Program Director, Writers, Photographers, and a beloved fan.
Stay tuned to CincyMusic.com for our Features on these talented women this month!