From AYO to an industry fellowship: Vennisa Santoro

Did you know that the AYO’s Orchestral Management program (formerly Arts Administration) can give you the chance to apply for an industry fellowship? After taking part in the program at National Music Camp in 2015, Vennisa Santoro did just that. Vennisa took the time to talk National Music Camp, fellowships, and what she’s up to now.

Being a part of the Australian Youth Orchestra’s Orchestral Management program has helped to create a launchpad for my career and really understand what it takes to be a part of the arts industry.

It has actually taken me a while to really find what it is that I wanted to do. After finishing the HSC I started a medical science degree. Fast-forward six years and four degree transfers, I was in my last year of my music degree and I still had no idea what I wanted to pursue once I finished. I had been involved in a whole range of activities throughout my time at university; I was the president of our orchestra and wind symphony, coordinated a volunteer program and a few events for our main student organization and was a peer mentor in our faculty. Outside of university, I got to co-produce a Vivid Live Ideas event and was an intern for the Sydney Symphony. Although I loved performing (and still do!), working in music events was always something that I kept coming back to.

After having a chat with one of my lecturers, she mentioned the AYO program. I actually had no idea the AYO had anything like this! After doing some research about the program, I decided to apply. The program looked really intense but seeing as I was still unsure what to pursue career-wise, it seemed like the most logical step for me.

I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy but it was well worth it! Under the wonderful tutelage of the amazing Erin McNamara, our job was to run rehearsals, tutorials and to act as orchestra mangers for the two symphony orchestras, the chamber orchestra, and the smaller chamber ensembles. There are also opportunities to work with a whole range of musicians, conductors, tutors and production staff.

After expressing my interest in working in events while being immersed with music operations, I was very lucky to have received the Regina Ridge Musica Viva Fellowship, which was an opportunity to join the operations team for the 2015 Musica Viva Festival.

During the Musica Viva Regina Ridge Fellowship, I acted as the Musica Viva Festival Operations Coordinator. I had the opportunity to assist with pre-festival preparations, operations and artist liaison. There was a lot to do in the six weeks, but although it was hard work, I was supported by hardworking and passionate staff. The skills that I developed through the experience are invaluable!

It was a little sad wrapping up the festival after so much hard work and meeting the wonderful and passionate team at Musica Viva. About a fortnight after the festival has ended, I was very lucky to have been offered a full time position as the NSW Education Coordinator and absolutely I love it! I’m immersed in scheduling and operations, regional touring, and organising professional development teacher events. I work with wonderful musicians who bring live music to so many schools. It feels good know that this is definitely the industry I want to be in. It would be an absolute dream to work in concert operations and touring or festival work!

There really is nothing like the AYO Orchestral Management program and I’m so glad I was able to do it! You will meet a whole range of passionate people while developing a whole range of skills – you’ll really understand what it takes to be a part of the industry. It really has opened up so many doors and helped me build a very strong foundation in these initial steps of my career in the arts. Since doing the program, I know that working in the arts is where I want to be and I have no idea where I would be today if it wasn’t for this wonderful program!