Kammy and Sian, our current crop of fabulous interns, look back on the last few months …
So it’s my last few weeks left in this 6 month roller coaster ride of an internship! I’ve gone from Freshers’ Fairs to Christmas Parties, the Royal Albert Hall to the Royal Festival Hall, mounds of filing to mass mail outs and – to top it all off – I think I’ve figured out a little about myself in the process…
I should warn potential interns that the number of people in the office is actually quite small, maybe 13-14 people in a long rectangular space. I say warn because when I came in on my first day, nice and early (very early) as the online advice columns tell you to, I was confronted by an absence of staff. Only Hannah, the lovely Development Manager was there to guide me through the awkward process of ‘the office walk round’ to meet the team. I remember it all as a blur, flying past me as I attempted proper conversation with moderate success.
Just a few weeks on from my first day and I felt I had been at LS all my life. Familiarity seemed to come quickly and I began to be able to take on tasks without looking as if I had never heard the words ‘remittance advice’. I realised I enjoyed writing and helping to put together the monthly e-Zine, something the interns have an opportunity to get involved with. I found myself reading and re-reading chunks of text over and over, wondering whether it was ‘unique’ or ‘groundbreaking’ that truly described Matthew Herbert’s One Day. Obsessive as it may sound, I found writing the e-Zine thoroughly engaging.
Perhaps the strangest task I was asked to help with was a last minute search for three electric typewriters, specifically three noisy electric typewriters (after all Frank Zappa’s The Adventures of Greggery Peccary would never ask for three very quiet typewriters). After hours of furious searching and numerous dead ends the Concert Department team went down to the prop department at Chase 55 and, with only minutes left before closing time, managed to secure two noisy electric typewriters. It made me think that contemporary music doesn’t just give new challenges to the performers, but to the administrators too!
To sum up, I have learnt that I am borderline obsessive when it comes to wording, that baked goods can get you places, and that spending 6 months with 13-14 brilliant individuals can give you some impressive social skills. One thing’s for sure: I won’t regret being an LS intern.
Never had I expected to be inside the infra-structure of an organisation whose recordings and performances of contemporary music had captivated me for most of my teens. Yet, excitingly, the last four months have seen me working as an intern in the main office of the London Sinfonietta (LS), an ensemble that is world-renowned, not only for its exhilarating performances of 20th and 21st Century music, but also as a key mechanism in the creation of new British music.
A few months into my internship, LS launched the Writing the Future call for works; a project unique in that it offered composers of any age a long-term composer-player relationship, in which to begin, develop, and crystallise new compositions. And, being in the office, I found myself at the centre of the action during the applications process. Apart from the sheer scale of the submissions (a whopping 96 in total), what struck me was the huge range of compositional styles that I saw whilst processing applications – having dabbled in composition myself, I was eager to have a sneaky rifle through the scores. From the standard notational to the colourful graphic scores, the presentation was impeccable and the standard, formidably high. The judging took three days, during which recorded snippets of piccolo and bass drum rumbles permeated ours and the neighbouring OAE offices. For me, the popularity of the project confirmed LS as the institution composers and budding composers turn to for opportunities to perform their works.
And this is only a sliver of the organisational body. Indeed, what makes this office environment so stimulating is its colourful mix of elements – each department has its own distinctive flavour. My ideas about what the role of an orchestra is and should be have been transformed.
My existing expectations about concert performance have also found a new perspective through being involved backstage with concerts staff. I have come to value, not only the polished performances from players, but also the delicacy with which the stage is assembled and manipulated, the level of communication required between venue, stage and orchestral managers, and the urgency, yet extreme competency with which every last-minute mishap is tackled.
One of the most astounding concerts to be backstage for was Lachenmamn’s Ausklang and Schreiben at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Not only was I able to marvel at the mammoth forces for which Lachenmann had written, but also at the mammoth task it had been to organise such a vast orchestra. Whilst helping out on-stage in the interval, I realised I had been wearing jeans and a comically conspicuous bright blue and red jumper – a marked deviation from the accepted ‘all-black’. Despite this, the concert remains an all-time high point, not least because I was able to meet Helmut Lachenmann backstage.
Having only 2 months left, I feel so lucky to have been an intern here. I’m certain that all the things I have learnt will equip me with skills for the working world, whether it’s being able to list every method of postage that Royal Mail offers, or knowing whether 2000 copies of a Saturday Guardian will fit into 25 square feet of storage (they won’t). The best thing about working for London Sinfonietta, is that it has made me appreciate the huge amount of work that goes into the running of an orchestra. Indeed, my insight into the work of the orchestra has only reinforced my belief that the remarkable musical opportunities produced time and time again by the London Sinfonietta are an invaluable contribution in making the UK an enviable hub of contemporary-artistic activity.
We offer regular opportunities to join the London Sinfonietta team as an Arts Administration Intern, either on a full- or part-time basis, and strive to provide the best possible introduction to working in a busy arts organisation in the Capital. Keep an eye on the website or sign up to out monthly e-Zine for news about the latest opportunities.