I was lucky enough to spend the first week of April away from my dissertation on a week of work experience with the Britten Sinfonia team. We had both brilliant sunshine and heavy rain in the same week, and the tasks I’ve helped with this week have been equally wide-ranging! The team here are all exceptionally helpful and friendly and told me about their different roles in the organisation in detail, Will Harris (Development Director) explained where the money comes from and who supports Britten Sinfonia; and Hannah Donat (Concerts Director) showed me where the money goes in her meticulous concert and recording budgets.
The internet is an incredibly important tool for all arts organisations these days, especially for an organisation like the Britten Sinfonia, which has regular concert series in three different cities and frequently tours the UK and abroad. The website is full of information about the orchestra and its concerts, as well as some interesting things like videos and, of course, this blog (which I’ve read several times on Facebook). On Tuesday I created web-friendly versions of the brilliant new publicity photos mentioned in the last blog entry. I then used these when updating the concerts page for the 2010/11 season.
Wednesday involved a lot of photocopying, as I helped Pippa (Concerts Administrator) with the library. We checked that there were no missing parts in the sets of hired music from this season’s concerts, and also took a record of the bowings in the front desk of the strings in case the same music was hired again. I then updated the OPAS database with all of this past season’s music. In the afternoon I sat in on the weekly Marketing meeting where Claire (Marketing Director) explained about the designs for the new season’s publicity material.
Thursday was the big day of the Britten Sinfonia and Polyphony concert in Trinity College Chapel with Carolyn Sampson. It was certainly a challenge loading the van with all of the music stands, lighting, staging, programmes, CDs and, of course, tea and biscuits for the performers’ rehearsal break. Hannah Perks (Marketing and Development Assistant) and I had to pack, unpack and repack a couple of times to make everything fit! Trinity Chapel was built in the sixteenth century and, as a soprano in Trinity Chapel Choir, I know how beautiful the building and its acoustic are. However, I’d never appreciated the effort it takes to set up all of those chairs! Brute strength is a definite requirement of this job, although Hannah Tucker (Orchestra Management) tells me that most of the venues already have seating in place…
The concert itself was fantastic and the audience clearly enjoyed the new works by Latvian composer Erik Essenvalds, who also gave an entertaining pre-performance interview. Carolyn Sampson was amazingly clear and forceful in Esenvalds Passion and Resurrection, and the percussion in Arvo Pärt was so atmospheric that we didn’t know if the concert had started or if it was chapel bells, but I have to say that my favourite item was Miranda Dale, Tom Gould and the Britten Sinfonia’s beautiful performance of the Bach double violin concerto. I joined the team of volunteer stewards to sell programmes, help people to their seats, and sell Britten Sinfonia CDs in the interval, and then helped put all of those chairs away again once the audience had left.
Because the new season will soon be on sale in Norwich, on Friday I wrote a letter to our regular subscribers there to let them know about the coming season’s concerts and the 20% discount and other offers that subscribers get. I helped to mail a letter to the Cambridge subscribers, inviting them to an interval drinks reception at the forthcoming Imogen Cooper concert at West Road, Cambridge. Finally, I helped Sophie (Creative Learning Director) come up with some Halloween names for all the events at the Family Music Day. Make sure you you ‘Come and Cackle’ with your ‘Little Spooks’ in October.
For the meantime it’s back to exams for me – but I’m looking forward to the At Lunch concert on 27th April where the Ravel Piano Trio will be perfect revision for my paper on Ravel!
All of us at Britten Sinfonia are extremely grateful to Joanna for all her hardwork during her work experience. Joanna is part of Britten Sinfonia's Sinfonia Student scheme - find out more about the scheme here.