The opportunity to undertake a placement at Manchester Camerata was given, thanks to Dr Abigail Gilmore, due to my background in classical music and music education, as well as my long-standing passion for classical music orchestra. Manchester Camerata is a freelance based chamber orchestra that provides diverse concerts and community programmes at a variety of places and to a broad range of people. The orchestra consists of the two core bodies: concert department and community department called ‘Camerata in the Community (CitC)’, which are at the forefront of the orchestra, producing all the activities. The placement was divided into working for both departments and thus, my roles and the activities I carried out varied.
During my placement within concert department, I engaged in rehearsals and concerts which belong to the three types of Manchester Camerata’s concert programme: ‘UpClose series’, ‘orchestral collaborations’ and ‘commercial work in Manchester and beyond’. My main role was to assist in organizing and delivering rehearsals and concerts, which involved setting up/tidying up music, music stands and lights, and supporting musicians. While the musicians were having a rehearsal, my roles backstage were to search for repertoires and sheet music, and to research and collect important information about the piece and/or composer so that it could be used by the marketing and communications department when putting together programme notes for the 2019/20 season. Through undertaking the duties within the concert department, I was able to learn about the working process of the orchestra’s management team which took place backstage to help organise and deliver the performance on stage.
Within my placement at CitC department, I was able to engage in both school programme and health and wellbeing programme. The school programme I took part in was ‘First Notes’, a song-writing project aimed children in Key Stage 2. I engaged in song-writing workshops which took place at different schools across Manchester, alongside the final performance at RNCM. My role was to assist in facilitating the workshops and performance through supporting both children and musicians. Engaging in this education project was greatly helpful for me not only in reflecting on the educational theories I have learned in Creative Learning module into practice but also in analysing and understanding the underpinning principles of the project.
Another programme I engaged in was ‘Music in Mind’ which is a music therapy project aimed at people with dementia, as well as their carers. My main roles here were to take part in improvised music-making session and support participants. This experience aroused my interest in the therapeutic impacts of music on people’s health and wellbeing, which led me to ponder the direction of orchestras regarding their social responsibility and role. This thought has further extended to orchestras in South Korea where I aim to work in the future, and led me to examine the community needs that Korean orchestras could fulfill.
The placement experience was enormously helpful for me to enrich practical experience of facilitating diverse orchestra activities. It enabled me to gain holistic perspective of orchestra – what each concert and education and outreach programme mean to the organization, their benefits and limitations, as well as how they impact the orchestra’s activities and, ultimately, its organisational identity. Most importantly, this placement provided me with a new level of inspiration and aspiration for my future career in education and outreach works in an orchestra. I believe that through the experience I have gained from undertaking this placement and the practical knowledge I have learned, I will be better equipped for a future career in the music industry.
May Kim is an MA student in Arts Management, Policy and Practice.