Laura Robertson shares with us her experience of being a University of Southampton Music Showcase Intern…
Since we (that is myself, Georgina Gatehouse and later Anna Palethorpe from February 2020 onwards) started the University of Southampton’s Music Showcase Internship in November last year, booking and helping to organise gigs and concerts across the University has become almost second nature to us Interns. From the Music Department’s Christmas Concert to weekly After Hours Arlott sessions to full Showcases of talent to prospective students and public audiences in Turner Sims Southampton, the internship has challenged us in the best way possible. We have learned so much about event management, artist co-ordination and even technical setups that I for one never thought I could get to grips with.
While we were somewhat thrown in at the deep end in November, we have kept it together and really enjoy what we are learning. Timescales were incredibly daunting; just two weeks after our first meeting we had to put on a Christmas Concert at Turner Sims to students, visiting school pupils and staff from across the faculties. We set to work asking (begging!) music students and groups to perform festive works, we settled on carols that had to be arranged and orchestrated for an impromptu jazz band to effectively sight-read, wrote the programmes and had to quickly plan for all of the technical requirements of the performers. I will never underestimate the amount of behind the scenes organisation that goes into planning a concert again! Seriously, kudos to stage managers.
The Hartley Loop Orchestra rehearsing In The Alps, February 2020, © Ashley Sealey @WhatabouttheAsh
During the course of the internship we also organised smaller scale gigs in the Arlott bar at Highfield campus, which saw two to three performers on a Thursday night entertain people from 5-9 pm-ish, and performances in the Turner Sims foyer once a month for the audience to enjoy and set the mood before one of their promoted concerts. These more informal gigs were definitely some of my favourite to put on, especially the weekly Arlott nights that were so relaxing once they got going. When we finished sound-checking the performers we could just sit and relax, enjoying the music while doing admin work at the same time. It was the best place to work and now that venues are sadly temporarily closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I’m really going to miss the lovely staff that helped us every week with setting up the venue to accommodate everything from classical guitar solos to jazz quartets with loop pedals.
A musical theatre ensemble performing in the February 2020 Showcase concert to prospective students, © Ashley Sealey @WhatabouttheAsh
On a larger scale, a personal highlight for me this year was the Showcase concerts that celebrate department talent- for example, the first concert that we were involved with in December featured seventeen performers which was a lot to manage and get our heads round. But, we learnt so much so quickly and then we organised another Showcase concert again in February with four diverse acts for a University Open Day. Success! We received great feedback from staff and students, and honestly that made it all worth it.
Obviously, a lot has changed since November. I’m really missing the buzz and slightly nervous atmosphere that hangs in the air before a concert. I am still undertaking my Internship, however focussing on new areas rather than live events. I have so many new skills and insights that I’ll take away with me from this role. Amongst them is a new level of confidence in myself; if you had asked me six months ago if I could help organise multiple concerts in a renowned concert venue and schedule several different groups with all of their technical requirements, I wouldn’t have believed it. This is definitely something that I would love to pursue in future, and I can’t wait to get started as soon as I can.
If you are interested in a creative career, there are a wealth of organisations offering guidance and creative career opportunities for young people – such as: discovercreative.careers, ccskills.org.uk, artswork.org.uk, artsaward.org.uk and our own University of Southampton Careers Service is here to offer its students support. As well as informal training and formal education courses like those which I am undertaking, pathways into the creative and cultural industries are wide-ranging – there are opportunities to undertake voluntary work, work-based learning programmes such as paid-Internships and Apprenticeships, and you will find more work-based learning opportunities becoming available as the sector aims to diversity its creative and cultural workforce. I would highly recommend trying out an Internship!
I hope you found my article an interesting read.
Laura Robertson, Music Showcase Intern, Turner Sims and University of Southampton Music Department