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Posted by Allanah Coldwell
Tuesday 7th May, 2019

30 days with Musica Viva

Musica Viva and the Australian Youth Orchestra have enjoyed a long and rewarding partnership over many years, and the involvement of AYO Chamber Players in Musica Viva Festival provides young musicians with the chance to work alongside leading professionals in the industry, and experience what it’s like to be in their shoes!

This relationship expands into the realm of arts administration in the form of the Regina Ridge Fellowship, which allows a participant from AYO’s Orchestral Management program the opportunity to gain valuable experience within the operations team at Musica Viva, helping to organise and run the annual festival.

Joining the ranks this year is 26 year old Allanah Coldwell, who attended AYO National Music Camp in January to learn the ropes of orchestral management. We asked Allanah to keep a short diary throughout her time with Musica Viva, and asked her one question every day to find out a little more about her involvement as this year’s fellow.

Week 1

Day 1 – Did you learn anything new today?
So much! My first day started with an intro to all the staff at the Musica Viva Australia office (lots of names and roles to learn), followed by a run through of the master schedule for the Musica Viva Festival with the Operations team. This is my first time working in an office, so today was also a chance for me to learn what happens on a day-to-day basis in the organisation.

Day 2 – What was the highlight of your day today?
Today I joined in on the Musica Viva choir that rehearses one lunchtime a week, doing some sight singing. It was a fun way to get to know some of all these new faces a bit better!

Day 3 – Did you find time to relax today?
My schedule this week hasn't been too jam-packed just yet, so I took some time to have a walk around the local area on my lunch break.

Day 4 – Tell us about somebody inspirational you’ve met today.
Today we farewelled Michael Dewis, retiring from his role of accountant at Musica Viva after 35(!) years, complete with a send-off song from the choir. It was really incredible hearing his stories about how the organisation has changed in his time here.

Day 5 – What made today unusual?
For a large part of today I was the sole representative of the Operations department. The other team members were all on leave, working from home, or away at meetings. A very quiet day in the office…

Week 2

Day 6 – How many coffees did you have today?
It might have been Monday, but none! I’m not a coffee drinker :)

Day 7 – What was your main goal today?
During the Musica Viva Festival, it will be my job to coordinate all the volunteers, so today my main goal was to set up a spreadsheet showing when and where we will need our volunteers to be during the festival.

Day 8 – Tell us about a favour you did for someone else today.
Today was the first Musica Viva Coffee Concert for the year, so I volunteered to help Sean, our Concerts & Community Coordinator, with directing patrons to the concert. It was fun being part of the concert setup, and I even got to be an audience member for the concert, featuring Alice Giles on harp. Score!

Day 9 – Tell us about a problem you solved today.
After another team member discovered some clashes in our festival planning, I dug into the master schedule and managed to come up with some solutions, suggesting alternative concert orders. Now our instrumental tutors can make it to their mentees’ concerts.

Day 10 – Tell us about something that made you laugh today.
Seeing some of the newly-recorded video footage for Musica Viva In Schools’ latest Teacher resource package. Yes, pretending to be a chameleon is educational!

Musica Viva family

Family Day concert at Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Week 3

Day 11 – On a scale of 1 to 10, how tired are you?
Probably an 8, after my 4.30am start to return to Sydney from my weekend at home in Melbourne… Zzzz

Day 12 – Tell us about something you did today that required creativity.
Today I spent some time designing lanyard tags and vouchers for the artists during the festival. Lots of playing around with colour combos, fonts and design software – mostly pretty new to me.

Day 13 – What piece of music is stuck in your head today?
The opening of Schubert’s string quartet “Death and the Maiden” – it’s one of the team’s mobile ringtones so I’ve been hearing it a lot.

Day 14 – What snack has got you through the day today?
Choc chip cookies!

Week 4

Day 15 – What’s the largest thing you’ve moved today?
A prop double bass. It’s going to be used on Family Day during the festival as a canvas for kids’ drawings, then kept by Musica Viva to display at future events.

Day 16 – What did you have for lunch today?
Just a simple ham, cheese and chutney sandwich today – gotta eat fast in time for choir!

Day 17 – What was your biggest challenge today?
Going through and double checking all of the details for our volunteer roster. It took a lot of concentration to make sure I didn't miss anything.

Day 18 – How many languages have you heard spoken today?
Maybe 5 or 6 (does my commute count?). Most things happen in English at Musica Viva though!

Day 19 – What was your biggest achievement today?
Testing out my newly-formed mail merge skills to send out a draft roster to our festival volunteers. It worked!

The calm before Musica Viva Festival began!

Week 5

Day 20 – What are three great things you achieved today?
1. I whipped up some lanyards for our staff, volunteers and artists; 2. I put together and sent out the Volunteer Handbook (again, lots of double checking); 3. I dealt with all the queries about volunteering at the festival!

Day 21 – Describe your day in five words.
Roster drafting… It never ends!

Day 22 – Which of your team members deserves a gold star today?
That has to be Erica (Operations Coordinator). Today Andrew Tyson arrived, the first of our international artists for the festival. Erica’s day consisted of picking him up from the airport (6.30am), working a full day in the office, and then staying back at work while Andrew rehearsed on the Musica Viva piano… until about 7pm! Gold star, Erica ⭐️

Day 23 – What gadgets did you use today?
Maybe not very exciting, but a book binder, to assemble our staff handbooks for the festival. Last day in the office today!

Week 6 – Final Week!

Day 24 – What was the most unexpected thing that happened today?
When I arrived at our temporary Musica Viva office at the Con, I discovered it wasn’t just for us, but also for the Australian Youth Orchestra's staff coordinating the AYO program for the festival. A lovely surprise to see some familiar faces from National Music Camp this January.

Day 25 – What was the most rewarding part of your day?
Today being our final bump in day before the festival begins tomorrow, I got to see the fruits of the operations team's planning – the Conservatorium beautifully lit up, the marquee decked out with flowers and decorations, and all of our lovely signage adorning the venue. It’s all happening now!

Day 26 – Tell us about a new word or phrase you’ve learnt today.
Atmos – referring to the generic audience chattering sounds played by the ABC before they begin actually streaming the live broadcast of a concert – a nifty little radio trick!

Day 27 – Tell us about something that went wrong today, and how you fixed it!
Today was Family Day, the busiest day of the festival with lots of workshops and performances. Naturally, today was the day we had the most volunteers pulling out due to illness, but I was able to shuffle some people’s roles around to make sure we had help where we needed it most.

Day 28 – What was the best piece of advice you were given today?
When doing stage moves: walk with purpose! Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” faster than hesitating or suddenly turning around because you forgot something.

Day 29 – What was the best (in your opinion) piece of music you heard at work today?
The Concert Duo for Violin and Bass, performed by violinist Tessa Lark and double bassist Edgar Meyer, who composed the work. It was a really fascinating piece combining classical and folk sensibilities. Very cool hearing this one from side of stage.

Day 30 – Tell us about something that inspired you today.
After the last festival concert wrapped up and patrons and artists were mingling, the Musica Viva team sprung to life to bump out the Con. The fact that it was done in under 90 minutes is a testament to how well they all work together – I’m going to miss everyone here!

Team photo

Allanah and the team from Musica Viva.